A three-goal salvo early in the second period was enough for SKA to make it 2-2 in the Western Conference final series. CSKA attempted another fightback, but was unable to save the game despite getting to 2-3 early in the third.

CSKA Moscow 2 SKA St. Petersburg 3 (0-0, 1-3, 1-0)

(Series tied at 2-2)

After a heavy loss on Tuesday, SKA made some changes. Defenseman Mikko Lehtonen and forward Emil Galimov were the fall guys, missing out on game four of the series.

There was also, perhaps, a bit more caution on display from both teams in the first period. Chances were hard to come by at either end, and SKA steadily came into the game after CSKA made the livelier start.

Everything changed in the middle frame, though. Early on, the Maxim SorkinAlexander Popov combination threatened to make yet another breakthrough for CSKA. However, SKA survived thanks to Stepan Falkovsky’s poke check and responded with a devastating three-goal salvo.

Igor Ozhiganov got the first, firing home a Nikita Gusev pass in the 24th minute. Two minutes later, Anton Burdasov doubled that lead, exchanging passes with Zakhar Bardakov as SKA swiftly turned defense into attack and beating Ivan Fedotov at the second attempt. Burdasov was hugely influential in the first round, with six points against Dinamo Minsk. Since then, though, he’s slowed a little and this was only his second point in the current confrontation.

Almost immediately, CSKA found itself on the PK and, once again, SKA found the net. Gusev got his second assist of the game – lifting him to the top of scoring chart – as he set up Mikhail Vorobyov between the hash marks for an instinctive one-timer that gave Fedotov no chance.

The home team found a way back into the game midway through the second period when Nikita Nesterov’s stretch pass sprang Vitaly Abramov into the SKA zone. The forward advance to beat Lars Johansson and make it 1-3.

Up by two at the start of the third might not have been the most comfortable position for SKA. Two days earlier, the visitor had a similar advantage, only to give up six unanswered goals in a third-period collapse. After the game, some in the CSKA camp spoke of how it might influence the remainder of the series; SKA had 20 minutes to close out a win that would tie the series and, arguably, put the skids under some of that Muscovite confidence.

However, the next big moment clearly pointed to CSKA’s belief that it could, once again, save the game. Andrei Svetlakov’s point shot brushed past Maxim Sorkin on its way to the net and the youngster had his fourth goal in this series. SKA was under pressure from the start of the period and Roman Rotenberg immediately called a time-out, desperate to soothe his players’ growing anxiety.

Almost immediately, the visitor responded with a big chance for Bardakov. However, Fedotov made the stop that kept CSKA in the game. Subsequently, the Muscovites continued to press in search of a tying goal. However, SKA’s defense was far less porous than on Wednesday and did a good job at closing out the game. There was one last big chance when Darren Dietz fired in a testing low shot that Johansson almost lost behind Petrov’s screen, but the Swede managed to get the puck behind to safety and his team levelled the series before the action returns to Petersburg on Sunday.

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