Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Lokomotiv got its second shut-out victory of this series to tie everything up at 2-2 ahead of Thursday’s return to the capital. Eddie Pasquale made 20 saves to backstop a vital win for the Railwaymen and ensure this Western Conference semi-final match-up remains full of intrigue.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 CSKA Moscow 0 (0-0, 2-0, 1-0)

(Series tied at 2-2)

Both teams had one new name on their rosters. For CSKA, Brendan Leipsic returned in a straight swap for the suspended Mario Kempe. Lokomotiv welcomed back fit again Pavel Kraskovsky and reshuffled all four lines to accommodating the leading scorer from regular season.

Photo: 23.03.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Playoffs. Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) - CSKA (Moscow)

The home team had the edge in the first period, but the closest we came to a goal was a Vladimir Tkachyov shot that clipped the crossbar in the seventh minute after Andre Petersson’s defense-splitting feed. Kraskovsky also came close to marking his return with a goal, but fortune was not on his side in the early stages. At the other end, the Army Men enjoyed an early power play but were otherwise largely anonymous as an offensive force.

CSKA was the first team to get the puck in the net early in the second period. However, Maxim Shalunov was denied by the whistle after straying offside. And the Army Men had another big chance as the middle stanza came to an end following a comedy of errors from the home team. First, Lokomotiv failed to keep the puck in the CSKA zone. Then, under pressure from Maxim Sorkin, two home defensemen stumbled as they tried to backtrack and mop up any danger. Ivan Telegin nipped in to steal the puck but after advancing to take on Edward Pasquale he was unable to beat the home goalie.

The visitor was left to rue that missed opportunity when play went back to the other end and Lokomotiv opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Artyom Ilyenko did the center’s job perfectly, screening Denis Barantsev’s point shot before stuffing home the rebound off Johansson’s pad. And the home team extended its lead a minute later, swiftly converting a power play after Bogdan Kiselevich’s foul. Once again, Barantsev’s slap shot caused problems and this time Teemu Pulkkinen potted the rebound.

Those two goals were well deserved and the Railwaymen thought they had a third goal early in the third period. Rushan Rafikov fired in a shot from the right-hand boards that deflected off Artyom Sergeyev’s skate and bounced into the net. However, Igor Nikitin challenged the play and a video review determined that Nikolai Kovalenko impeded Lars Johansson before the shot came in, preventing him from taking a position to stop Rafikov’s effort.

The reprieve lifted CSKA and for a time the Army Men were able to dictate the play. However, the visitor struggled to turn time in the Loko zone into gilt-edged scoring chances, and Pasquale kept the danger at bay.

Ultimately, Loko was not to be denied a third goal and Yegor Korshkov scored into an empty net 36 seconds from time to seal the victory. That was Korshkov’s third goal in four games against CSKA in this year’s playoffs. There is plenty more action to come in this series.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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