Nikita Gusev began the playoffs with a bang – he produced 6 (1+5) points in SKA’s opening game against Dinamo Minsk. That’s the best ever individual performance in a playoff game and it helped the Petersburg team to an 8-3 victory, largely on the back of an overwhelming second period that finished 7-0 in the home team’s favor. Oddly, though, Dinamo won the first and third periods of that game, and the two subsequent encounters proved far closer. Indeed, Sunday’s encounter required another decisive contribution from Gusev, who grabbed a last-minute goal to snap a 2-2 tie and give SKA a 3-0 lead in the series.
Maxim Sorkin’s overtime winner for CSKA brought an end to the second-longest game in KHL history. The 21-year-old gave the Muscovites a 3-2 victory and established a 3-0 lead in the series, but the Army Men had to wait until the 127th minute to secure the verdict. Sorkin’s goal on 126:37 stopped the clock in the fourth period of overtime. That’s still some way short of CSKA’s epic encounter with Jokerit on March 22, 2018, when Mika Niemi gave the Finns the win after 142:08, but was just ahead of Donbas Donetsk’s victory over Lev Prague in the 2014 playoffs.
The day after the epic in Yaroslavl, Sibir entertained Salavat Yulaev – and set a new club record for its longest game. It took 103:06 to separate the teams after a 1-1 tie in regulation. Valentin Pyanov got the vital touch to redirect Michal Cajkovsky’s shot into the net and give the home team a 2-1 victory. That put Sibir right back into the series, but Salavat Yulaev leads 2-1 overall.
The Eastern Conference has thrown up an unusual quirk in this year’s playoffs: twice, we’ve seen teams score two short-handed goals in the same game. First, on Friday, Avangard’s penalty kill got two goals in the second period of its game at Ak Bars, opening a 4-2 lead and setting up a second win in the series. Then, 24 hours later, Metallurg did the same thing to jump to an early 2-0 lead at Barys before winning 5-3. Salavat Yulaev’s Viktor Tikhonov grabbed a short-handed goal on Sunday, but couldn’t prevent his team losing 1-2 at Sibir.
Andrei Kuzmenko was the star of SKA’s second victory over Dinamo Minsk, scoring twice in the 3-1 success. The second of those tallies took the forward to 100 KHL goals in his career.