(Series tied at 3-3)
Once again, goalie Eddie Pasquale was a huge part of the Railwaymen’s success. In Loko’s two previous wins, he blanked CSKA; today he allowed just one goal as Lokomotiv took the verdict in overtime. The Canadian’s 27 saves backstopped his team to victory.
But it was team captain Vladimir Tkachyov who settled this one. He grabbed the winner four minutes into the extras. The play started with a CSKA stumble, which allowed Rushan Rafikov’s clearance to reach Andre Petersson. The Swede advanced down the left wing, brought the puck into the danger zone and fed Tkachyov, who went on to beat Lars Johansson and send the bulk of the 5,000-strong crowd into raptures.
For all this was a win-or-bust game for Lokomotiv, Andrei Skabelka was not interested in wholesale changes to the roster. He went with almost exactly the line-up that went down 2-3 in Moscow on Thursday, merely bringing in Anton Malyshev as seventh defenseman in place of Daniil Misyul. CSKA’s Igor Nikitin continued with the team from the previous game, trusting that a winning roster would keep going and see off the series with a game to spare.
Lokomotiv got the first power play of the game when Andrei Svetlakov sat for tripping in the fifth minute. However, this did not work out as the home team hoped: not only did Johansson make a couple of saves to deny his fellow Swede Anton Lander, when Svetlakov returned to the ice he sprinted straight onto a clearance and skated through to beat Pasquale. Loko’s bench challenged the call, claiming offside, and a video review brought a reprieve.
That proved to be the biggest talking point of a first period that saw plenty of enterprising play from both teams but could not deliver a legitimate goal.
The deadlock was finally broken in the second period when Lokomotiv got the lead it desperately needed. CSKA found itself in penalty trouble and, after killing Mario Kempe’s minor, the visitor was undone when Bogdan Kiselevich sat for high sticks. Denis Barantsev was the scorer, launching a slap shot from the blue line off Yegor Korshkov’s feed and sending the puck skittering low over the ice and beyond Johansson.
That inspired the home team to a dominant performance in the second period, with CSKA often reduced to feeding off scraps. Lokomotiv spent more than twice as much time on the attack and outshot CSKA 15-6 in the session, with Johansson coming up big to deny Denis Alexeyev and Alexei Marchenko in separate incidents. Another home power play, the fourth in a row, also came to naught — and CSKA punished that early in the third.
For 40 minutes, Lokomotiv’s discipline was impeccable. However, when Anton Lander took a tripping minor early in the third, CSKA demonstrated the strength of its power play. It was all hands to the pump in front of Pasquale as the Army Men looked to take advantage, and eventually the pressure paid off when Konstantin Okulov placed a wrist shot over the goalie’s glove. Okulov was some distance from the net, but with heavy traffic on the crease it was hard for Pasquale to see the release and he had no time to react as the puck whistled past him. Neither team was content to settle for overtime right away, with scoring chances at both ends. CSKA arguably had the better of the closing stages, but neither team could conjure a winner in regulation.