Aivis Kalnins Aivis Kalnins
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After a very hard earned victory at home against Sibir Dinamo Riga continued their two-game home stand this time taking on another eastern conference team - Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk - a team that has come fresh off of a victory against very good yet struggling Helsinki Jokerit side.

For Riga Neftehimik is one of rare teams that they have performed better against - in 25 meetings tonight’s hosts have taken home regulation victory on 12 occasions. While Riga is struggling offensively they managed to score four against Sibir and would be looking to do that once again against Neftekhimik side. Nikolajs Jelisejevs has managed to score four goals and earn an assist in last five games, team captain Lauris Darzins has been spectacular with setting up plays and has netted himself five helpers - their team will be looking at them to help up front once again. Stellar Mattsson remained in net, the only change on defence was Brandon Gormley’s return.

Riga had a first real scoring chance with 40 seconds played - two-on-one chance but the opposing defender managed to clear the puck away from an empty side of the net. Otherwise - the visiting side appeared far more dangerous being more in control of the puck, forcing Mattsson to be involved in many occasions while his team took almost half of the period to find their first shot of the net.

Eventually Riga picked up the pace to begin showcasing what they’re capable again and Nikolajs Jelisejevs once again got the puck into the net to give his team a 1:0 lead - Jelisejevs hid himself in defensemans position, snuck up to hashp-marks and was left all alone for Radil to find him and get the first goal of the game.

Riga’s pressure was intense and Neftehimik was forced to take a penalty - Maxim Berezin was sent to the box for tripping which then materialised in yet another goal. A long and beautiful combination by Dinamo found Hunter Shinkaruk with a diagonal to Reece Scarlett for his second goal in as many games to double Dinamo’s lead.

Neftehimik went on a chase to get back into the game as early as possible - many chances, many opportunities but nothing went past goalie in pink. Brandon Gormley found himself in the sin bin for hooking with three minutes to play - penalty was killed. Unlucky for Riga - Bulat Shafigullin managed to force the puck into the net with a wrap-around with just ten seconds left in the opening frame - 2:1.

Intense hockey - loads of back and forth action between both sides, both goalies having to work a lot to begin the second period. The shot efficiency slowed down eventually as teams spent more time in the neutral zone trying to create something offensively. Chipping on both sides went as far as having to send Emile Poirier to the box for tripping.

A penalty? No problem for Riga, Nikita Jelisejevs and Lukas Radil bolted towards the opposing net, Jelisejevs quickly passed to Radil who once again put Riga up by two - this time while shorthanded.

Right after the goal Mattsson swept the puck off of the goal-line but Riga took another penalty. 5-on-3 was killed but it appeared as the visiting side got a goal back but something strange had happened - the puck got caught in the netting and seemed to be in the net - but after video review it was decided that it never crossed the goal-line therefore no goal and a successful penalty kill for Dinamo.

First attempt waived off but then Neftehimik struck on equal strength - a quick counter with Libor Hudacek rushing into the zone on the right side, all he had to do was pick his head up and take a look at Marat Khairulin who was at the far post all alone waiting for a pass to come his way and it did, perfectly executed moment to bring the game back within a single goal. A small difference on the scoreboard after forty.

Multiple dangerous scoring chances for Neftehimik at the start of the third but Dinamo goalie Mattsson knew the job he had to do - stop the pucks in order to maintain the lead. The opponents were faster and stronger, better in most components and Emile Poirier took a frustration penalty sending Riga down by a man - his team managed to take care of the penalty kill.

If the visitors kept attacking and it seemed like the equaliser was coming, Riga was finally graced with an opportunity to play on power-play and potentially get another goal that would allow them to breathe more easily. While trying to begin cycling the puck Jelisejevs made a huge mistake putting the puck on Shafigullin’s stick who ran away on a breakaway, however Mattsson remained confident and stopped him cold and time on power-play ran out.

Riga was determined to score and they did so - yet another two-on-one rush, Skvorcovs looked for Edgars Kulda to pass but at the last moment decided to shoot the puck using goalies mistake who had committed to defending a potential one-timer by Kulda but it never went that far, 4:2 on the scoresheet. ‘’I saw that our guys got the puck, at first I thought that Buncis would dump the puck out of our d-zone but he sort of waited a little before doing it, he red the situation well and I kept believing that he would do it - he chipped it out and then me and Kulda went on to a 2-on-1 there, I decided to shoot because on previous situation I passed and it didn’t turn out the way I would have hoped,’’ Skvorcovs said.

Riga couldn’t celebrate for too long as yet another quick answer was sent - Dan Sexton with a no-look pass to Galimov and once again both sides were back to a one-goal game.

A thirty second timeout, empty net for Neftehimik and final offensive wasn’t enough to tie the game meaning that Riga would celebrate back-to-back victories at home prior to heading on a one-game road trip to face-off against former team captain Miks Indrasis and Vityaz Podolsk.

After the game when asked what they’ll bring into the game, what to expect from the next one goal-scorer Gunars Skvorcovs said that they haven’t gotten that far yet - ‘’Not sure, we’ll watch tape, we’ll analyse video and then figure out what to do.’’ acknowledging that the game will be as interesting as one gets as both teams like to score but also allow plenty of goals. What stood out in this game? What’s the one thing that he’d like to point out? ‘’Teamwork, it’s the one thing that once again really stood out for us. However, realistically speaking we blocked a lot of shots and of course our goalie was at the top of his game once again”.

Aivis Kalnins Aivis Kalnins
exclusive for khl.ru

Related clubs

Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
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