Moscow (17:00 msk)
CSKA Moscow 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 0 (0-0, 0-0, 2-0)
(CSKA leads the series 1-0)
The teams had contrasting paths to this stage. CSKA, used to sweeping through the first round unchallenged, was taken to seven games by Severstal. Lokomotiv, meanwhile, had relatively little trouble with Vityaz: after losing game one in OT, the Railwaymen steamed to four successive victories.
The first period was all about the battle between Lokomotiv’s forwards and Adam Reideborn. CSKA’s attacking contribution was minimal: the home team managed a solitary shot on target in the opening frame. At the other end, though, the Railwaymen created chance after chance. Early on, Artur Kayumov almost forced the puck past Reideborn. Then the Swedish goalie pulled out a big save as Stepan Nikulin raced into a dangerous position on a breakaway. Shortly afterwards, Reideborn was busy again, steering the puck around the post after a neat passing combination unpicked the CSKA defense and allowed Maxim Beryozkin a shooting chance.
For all that pressure, though, the visitor could not break the deadlock. The question was whether that would prove a costly failure, or whether Lokomotiv could continue in the same vein after the intermission.
Initially, it looked like more of the same in the second period. Reideborn produced more saves to deny Georgy Ivanov and Nikulin as Alexeyev quarterbacked some nice plays in the home zone. Gradually, though, the defending champion got into the game. After poor puck control hurt CSKA in the first period, the home team sharpened up its performance in the second and began to ask some questions of Daniil Isayev in the Lokomotiv net. Nonetheless, the best chance of the session went to the visitor, but Maxim Shalunov was unable to steer Kayumov tempting diagonal feed into the open corner of the net.
All too often in hockey, teams are punished for failing to make the most of their chances. In the third period, that was exactly what happened to Lokomotiv. The visitor could, and arguably should have been a couple of goals in front. However, with the game still goalless, CSKA took the initiative. Early in the third period, Yaroslav Dyblenko opened the scoring for the home team. He converted a feed from Maxim Mamin after the Muscovites won a puck battle behind the Lokomotiv net.
Within five minutes it was 2-0. A penalty for Ivanov gave CSKA a chance to extend the lead on the power play, and Pavel Karnaukhov got the finishing touch to a Darren Dietz shot as the home team set up camp in front of Isayev’s net.
Lokomotiv had a chance to respond with a power play of its own shortly afterwards. However, that came to nothing and CSKA almost added a third once back at full strength. Mamin’s shot got through Isayev’s defenses, but Alexei Marchenko was backing up to clear the puck from the goal line.
The final stages saw one last push from the visitor, but there was no way through. Reideborn took the plaudits, making 35 saves to record his first KHL playoff shut-out and only his second of the 2022-2023 season.