(SKA leads the series 3-1)
After Monday’s overtime win, secured despite blowing a 2-0 lead in regulation, SKA wrapped up this game inside 60 minutes thanks to power play goals in the middle frame, and sealed it with a third late on.
However, that comfortable victory seemed unlikely at the first intermission. The Blue-and-Whites had a clear advantage in the first period, outshooting SKA 13-4 and looking by far the more likely team to open the scoring. Dynamo had more of the scoring chances, but the most memorable incident of the first period came in the eighth minute when Daniil Tarasov and Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi came to blows in center ice. The home player got the better of the fight, wrestling his opponent to the floor, and his team continued with a power play after SKA was called for too many men in addition to the parallel major penalties for the two combatants.
The breakthrough came five minutes into the second period. A tripping call on Vyacheslav Kulyomin handed SKA the chance for a first spell of sustained pressure in the game, and the visitor wasted little time in cashing in. Vladimir Tkachyov got the goal and to make matters worse for the home team, there was another penalty cited on Andrei Sergeyev for hooking Andrei Kuzmenko in the build-up to Tkachyov’s close-range finish. Thus, the Blue-and-Whites continued a goal down and a man down.
That penalty did not produce another goal but it wasn’t long before the visitor’s PP was back in business. Mikhail Grigoryev laid a check to the head of Linden Vey and SKA took advantage. Anton Burdasov’s shot from the right-hand circle went wide of the target, but Ivan Bocharov lost track of the puck and Joonas Kemppainen was on hand for an easy finish into a wide open net.
After that, Dynamo had a great chance to get back into the game when penalties for Emil Galimov and Oscar Fantenberg handed the host a 5-on-3 power play. However, SKA was keen to learn from the previous game, when it allowed the Muscovites back into contention, and a well-drilled PK kept scoring chances to a minimum as the middle frame came to an end.
And well-drilled defense was the defining feature of the third period. SKA was content to allow Dynamo plenty of possession, stepping up when the Blue-and-Whites threatened to move into dangerous territory. Magnus Hellberg was well protected by his defense throughout as he closed on his third victory of this series. After missing the 1-4 loss in the opening meeting between the teams, the Swede has allowed just three goals as his team took control of the contest even before Shvets-Rogovoi rifled home a third with exactly three minutes to play. He was beaten at last by Ivan Igumnov with a minute to play, but there was no way for Dynamo to save the game.
Despite missing out on a shut-out tonight, Hellberg has 83 saves in the series so far, guiding SKA into a dominant position. Dynamo heads north for Friday’s game knowing that there is no further room for error — only a road win can keep this series alive.