Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The Western semi-final pairings are established following home victories in Petersburg and Moscow. SKA will face Dynamo in the second round, with CSKA up against Lokomotiv. However, both of Wednesday’s winners had an anxious finish to their series with SKA needing overtime and Dynamo holding on as Severstal threatened a big fightback.

Burdasov sends SKA through

SKA St. Petersburg 4 Dinamo Minsk 3 OT (0-1, 2-0, 1-2, 1-0)

(SKA wins the series 4-1)

An overtime winner from Anton Burdasov sent SKA into the Western Conference semi-final and a match-up with Dynamo Moscow. However, the second seed needed a late equalizer to escape a return to Minsk as Dinamo put up a brave fight in game five.

Photo: 10.03.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Playoffs. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Dinamo (Minsk)

After Dinamo’s win on Monday kept this series alive, the Belarusians welcomed Brandon Kozun and Pavel Varfolomeyev back to the team. SKA, meanwhile, selected Oscar Fantenberg in place of Anton Belov and replaced Malte Stromwall with youngster Vladislav Tsitsyura.

And it was Varfolomeyev who had the first significant contribution of the game, scoring the opening for Minsk in the fourth minute. Denis Mosalyov was the architect, getting the puck to the slot where Varfolomeyev was given space in front of the net to beat Magnus Hellberg and claim his third goal of the series.

After that, not surprisingly, SKA stepped up the tempo and much of the remainder of the first period was played in front of Dominik Furch’s net. However, the home team was unable to turn territorial superiority into goals and, at the first intermission, Craig Woodcroft’s men had every hope of bringing the series back to Belarus.

Emil Galimov had other ideas. SKA’s forward potted his first goal of the playoffs when the Army Men won game three in overtime. Today he added two more, including a cracker to tie the scores. Galimov was surrounded by a trio of defensemen when he collected the puck, but he was able to slalom his way past everyone and beat Furch with a shot over the glove. Five minutes later, the forward had his second. Ivan Morozov’s shot from the right thudded into Furch’s pads, but Galimov was waiting on the slot to spin away from Dmitry Znakharenko and slide the rebound beyond the goalie’s reach.

Dinamo was forced to rely on counter attacks, but still had chances to test Hellberg. The Swedish goalie denied Francis Pare right after Galimov’s second goal, then came up with the answers on the PK as Kozun and Varfolomeyev both threatened.

At the start of the third, though, Minsk turned the game upside down once again. Kirill Marchenko took a penalty, and Varfolomeyev was there to grab his second of the game and tie the scores on the power play. And, just a minute later, Mosalyov made it 3-2, adding to his game-winner in Minsk two days earlier.

Suddenly, it seemed that the next stop might be Pulkovo international airport as the action looked destined to return to Belarus. But SKA held its nerve and, with barely two minutes to play, Kirill Marchenko tied the game. The goal was all about Galimov, who took the puck from his own zone, through the visitor’s defense, all the way to the left-hand dot before slipping it inside for Marchenko to score. Andrei Kuzmenko almost won it in regulation, but instead it went to overtime.

The extras, not surprisingly, were nervous. Either team could have won it, but when SKA got a power play eight minutes in, the balance tipped in the home team’s favor. Valery Bragin called a time-out and explained the play, then came the execution, with the puck heading back towards the blue line for Burdasov to shoot home and end the series.

Dynamo advances despite Severstal’s late charge

Dynamo Moscow 4 Severstal Cherepovets 3 (1-0, 3-1, 0-2)

(Dynamo wins the series 4-1)

Dynamo booked its place in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs after sealing victory over Severstal in five games. However, after moving into a dominant lead after two periods, the Blue-and-Whites almost let it slip in the third as Vadim Kudako scored twice to give the Steelmen a chance of extending the series.

Photo: 10.03.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Playoffs. Dynamo (Moscow) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Severstal’s hopes of gaining the upper hand in the first period took a blow when it failed to take advantage of the first power play of the game. Moreover, not only were the Steelmen unable to find a way past Alexander Yeryomenko, they also ended up desperately trying to deny Dmitry Kagarlitsky a short-handed goal. That was achieved, but only at the cost of a foul by Andrei Alexeyev; seconds later, Makar Khabarov followed him to the box and Dynamo eventually converted the penalty when Juuso Hietanen fired home a one-timer off Oscar Lindberg’s feed. That was Dynamo’s 500th goal in the playoffs, and its 100th on Severstal in the KHL.

Back at full strength, the visitor was close to tying the scores almost immediately, but a combination of good fortune and brave defense kept Dynamo’s goal intact and the first period ended with the home team narrowly ahead.

The lead increased at the start of the second. Despite killing the remains of Vladimir Bryukvin’s penalty, Dynamo doubled its advantage 35 seconds after the restart when Dmitrij Jaskin broke away and scored his third goal in the series. The home team remained on top, and got a second 5-on-3 power play of the night without managing to score on Vladislav Podyapolsky again. But, back equal strength, the Blue-and-Whites added a third when Michal Cajkovsky’s diagonal pass found Lindberg at the back door with a one-timer.

A blistering middle frame continued with Vyacheslav Kulyomin adding a fourth at the midway stage, stripping an opponent of the puck and skating through to score from close range. That prompted Andrei Razin to send Dmitry Shugayev onto the ice in place of Podyapolsky. Shortly after, Jindrich Abdul scored his first of the playoffs to give Severstal an outside chance of saving the game and prolonging the series, but Dynamo reached the second intermission with a comfortable 4-1 lead.

Six minutes into the third period, Kudako capitalized on some weak defensive play and scored a second for Severstal. That served notice that the Steelmen would not give up without a fight. Yeryomenko had to scramble back into position to stop Vladislav Kodola’s speculative effort after more sloppy play in the Dynamo zone. And when Kudako made it 3-4 with three minutes left on the clock, Blue-and-White nerves were jangling. Could the Steelmen save themselves?

Not quite. The visitor poured forward in the closing moments, but time ran out. Not even a last-minute penalty on Yegor Zaitsev, giving Severstal a chance to create one last chance playing 6-on-4, was enough to take the game into overtime. Tempers frayed in that last desperate push and, after the hooter, Andrei Mironov and Shawn Lalonde continued to contest the outcome until the officials pulled them apart.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
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