It was an absolute thriller in Podolsk when Dinamo Riga took on Vityaz on a two-game winning streak. The Latvian franchise is slowly fixing its offensive play and scoring four again, gaining an important win against a Western Conference rival. Sergei Zubov didn't change his roster and let Mattsson once again guarding the team's net as Dinamo finally found a reliable number one goalie after last year's struggles.
Dinamo Riga started the game attacking and gained the first powerplay of the night when former Dinamo forward Miks Indrasis was caught on a boarding infraction. The hosts were too passively waiting for the opposition, and Hunter Shinkaruk took advantage of it entering the zone and surprising Ilya Ezhov with a mid-height shot that went in stick-side.
After opening the score, Dinamo kept on controlling the game, but at the ninth minute, a powerful blueline shot by Viktor Antipin rattled the crossbar. However, it was just a rush, and soon Vityaz was again down by one man after a team penalty, and Dinamo needed less than a minute to double its lead. After a swift puck-possession game in the offensive zone, Lukas Radil fed Jere Karjalainen with a perfect pass between the circle. The Finn forward one-timed it in right under Ezhov's glove for his third of the season.
After another scoring chance for Shinkaruk, however, Edgars Kulda gave Vityaz its first powerplay of the night after a slashing foul play.
Despite some nice puck movements, Vityaz's powerplay didn't produce any threat to Mattsson as Dinamo Riga remained up by two. The hosts had another great chance closer to the end of the first stanza when Skvorcovs was sent to the sin bin for a high hit on Indrasis, then Gints Meija was caught on tripping. Aaltonen had a clear-cut chance when his shot hit Mattsson on the chest, then Fyodor Malykhin tripped Kristaps Sotnieks, giving the guests some relief. But with four men against three, Vityaz closed the gap shorter as the league's top sniper Niko Ojamaki went top shelf from the left circle after a crisp pass by Daniel Audette. The momentum shifted on Vityaz's side, and at the end of the first period Alexander Yaremchuk almost tied things up - but a timely save by Mattsson allowed Riga to end the first frame up by one goal.
The middle frame started with Dinamo Riga again controlling the play and Egor Vorokov giving the Latvians their third full powerplay after a few seconds with the man advantage between the end of the first and the start of the second period. Nothing happened, then Riga had a mistake while changing with the teams in even strength, and Vityaz had could take advantage of a two-minute penalty for too many players. The hosts cycled the puck, but Dinamo Riga's box play closed all the gaps again until the refs whistled Emile Poirier a high-sticking penalty for a new powerplay attempt by Vityaz. The home foreigner unit didn't find room and Lukas Radil had a fantastic chance to double Riga's lead, but his wrister went wide past Ezhov with the clock signing the mid-game mark.
After Radil's chance, however, Vityaz could ice their imports again, and they managed to shift the situation and tie the game at two with a cannon-like one-timer by Valtteri Kemilainen after another smooth pass by Audette.
The momentum shifted on Vityaz's side, and the hosts were close to their third goal with Mikhail Smolin, whose wrap-around attempt was stopped by Mattsson. However, little could the goalie do a few moments later, when a fast counterattack allowed Ojamaki to serve a fully free Miro Aaltonen on the Mattsson's right for the 3:2 goal.
But the roller coaster didn't quite stop yet. With less than ten seconds to the second hooter, Brandon Gormley shot from the blue line, with Kristaps Sotnieks deflecting it in fooling Ezhov and netting his first of the season as the teams started the closing frame tied at three.
The closing stanza started with Reece Scarlett tripping Indrasis and Mattsson stopping Ojamaki in style - this time winning the duel after the Finn found the back of the net in the first period. The teams lowered the tempo, knowing that a single mistake could determine the outcome of the game, but Malykhin was then assigned another minor penalty with twelve minutes to go. Dinamo Riga posed no threat to Ezhov, and the game slowly went to overtime.
In extra time, Vityaz pushed the gas and first hit the crossbar with Vitaly Popov, then Mattsson again stopped a dangerous attempt by Ojamaki. Shortly after, Poirier found himself in the offensive zone and patiently waited for a rushing Shinkaruk, who deflected Poirier's pass in for his second of the night.
"It was a close game and we are happy to get away with two points. We got advantage of our chances, and in OT, our players played well and made a great job netting the game-winner," Sergei Zubov said after the game. "It was a tough game. We scored, then our opponents managed to turn the game's flow to their advantage, the momentum shifted, and they had an energy boost. We are happy with our two points, but now we need to forget this game and go on."
Dinamo Riga will seek its fourth win in a row on Tuesday, Oct 19, in a home game against a red hot Metallurg.