(CSKA leads the series 2-1)
It took just 1:31 of overtime to find a winner, with CSKA starting on the front foot and quickly carving out the chance it needed. Nikita Soshnikov’s smart turn behind the net pulled the Loko defense out of position. He sent the puck to Andrei Loktionov on the slot and when the initial shot flashed wide of goal, Anton Slepyshev was on hand to collect the rebound and squeeze it into the net from a tight angle.
Soshnikov’s return to the CSKA roster was the big pre-game news. The forward had not featured in post season since the opening game against Spartak in round one, in which he managed just 4:32 on the ice before getting hurt. Soshnikov took Alexander Popov’s place, while on the Lokomotiv roster head coach Andrei Skabelka responded to Friday’s 1-4 loss by reshuffling all four attacking lines.
With the series perfectly poised at 1-1, there was action from the start. The first flashpoint arrived in the fifth minute when Mario Kempe clattered Nikita Cherepanov into the boards and got a 5+20 for his trouble. Georgy Ivanov was quick to offer his own brand of justice and took a cross-checking minor, while Cherepanov himself suffered a cut to the face and did not return until the second period. That meant Daniil Misyul, listed as a seventh D-man, got more game time than planned in the opening frame.
By the time the young defenseman was back in the game, CSKA had the lead. The Army Men carefully killed Kempe’s major penalty and opened the scoring once back at full strength. Maxim Mamin sent Maxim Shalunov through on Eddie Pasquale’s net, Shalunov’s shot was saved, and Konstantin Okulov swept home the rebound.
From that point on, Loko gradually assumed the upper hand. The first period was short of clear goalscoring opportunities but the second stanza saw the Railwaymen put more pressure on Lars Johansson in the visitor’s net. Anton Lander redirected a chance narrowly wide, Mikhail Belyayev saw his close-range effort blocked by the goalie’s shoulder and Vladimir Tkachyov dinged the crossbar. CSKA was not without its chances, though, and late in the frame the Army Men sounded a warning when Anton Slepyshev forced a turnover on his own blue line and surged down the ice, only to be denied by Pasquale.
However, Lokomotiv got back on level terms in the third period when Pavel Tyutnev picked the ideal moment to score his first KHL goal. The 18-year-old made his first appearance in the league on Dec. 25 and today was his 10th time on the ice, having been an unused 13th forward in the previous game in Moscow. More importantly, though, he delivered his first goal in senior hockey when he put away the rebound following Nikolai Kovalenko’s effort. Kovalenko, too, deserves great credit after a surging run from his own blue line that saw him dance away from Andrei Svetlakov and evade two more opponents as he fired into Johansson’s pads.
Once level, the teams approached the remaining minutes of regulation cautiously. Apart from half chances for Ivan Telegin and Artyom Ilyenko there were few alarms for either goalie as the action moved inexorably towards overtime. However, when the fourth period got underway, CSKA needed just 90 seconds to grab the winner and move ahead in this series for the first time.