Torpedo enjoyed a happy homecoming, defeating Dynamo Moscow in Nizhny Novgorod to improve to 1-2 for the series and boost hopes of progressing. Elsewhere, though, the change of surroundings made little difference to the outcomes of the games. CSKA won in overtime at Jokerit, SKA defeated Vityaz and Lokomotiv ran over Dinamo Minsk to go 3-0 up in their series.
(SKA leads the series 3-0)
Vityaz hosted a KHL playoff game for the first time, but it was Pavel Datsyuk who enjoyed the party. The veteran SKA forward scored a beautiful goal and contributed two assists as the Army Men powered to a convincing victory.
SKA took control with a couple of power play goals. First, Datsyuk fed Patrik Hersley for a shot from the blue line and the Swedish D-man picked up his second goal in successive games. Then, early in the second period, another power play saw the same pair combine. This time, though, Hersley’s shot took a deflection from Evgeny Ketov on its way into the net.
SKA, however, was in no mood to relinquish its grip on the game or the series. Quickfire goals from Roman Rukavishnikov and Nikita Gusev stretched the advantage before Datsyuk brought his bit of magic to the ice early in the third period. It was a self-made goal, intercepting a pass in center ice before advancing, dancing round Alexei Semenov and evading the attentions of Igor Golovkov before ripping a trademark backhand shot past Harri Sateri to make it 5-1.
Alexei Kopeikin pulled one back for Vityaz in the closing stages, but the game was long gone. There was time for a third Vityaz goal to be ruled out by the video official in the last minute before Ilya Kovalchuk scored into the empty net to wrap up another convincing SKA victory. The teams meet again on Monday with Vityaz needing a victory to avoid being swept on its first KHL playoff appearance.
(Lokomotiv leads the series 3-0)
A powerful finish to the first period put Lokomotiv on track for a third successive victory and saw Alexei Kudashov’s team on the brink of reaching the next round.
Penalty trouble plagued Dinamo Minsk in the opening session, preventing Craig Woodcroft’s team from making the bright start it was seeking as it looked to start turning this series around on home ice. Instead, a lively start dissipated when Loko gained a 5-on-3 power play. Dinamo killed the first penalty but could not prevent Staffan Kronwall from opening the scoring in the ninth minute.
Just as the home team felt that it was gaining a foothold in the game, Lokomotiv took it out of reach with two goals in the last two minutes of the stanza. Jakub Nakladal made it 2-0, forcing home the rebound after Max Talbot was denied by Ben Scrivens. Then Talbot himself added a third on the power play.
The middle stanza was dominated by a series of minor penalties, preventing either team from establishing a rhythm to its play. Alexander Polunin added a fourth for Lokomotiv, despite Dinamo having far more opportunities.
With the game effectively over, the tempo dropped a little in the third period. Dinamo got a goal back in the 52nd minute through Evgeny Lisovets.
For Dinamo, however, a best-ever showing in the regular season doesn’t seem to be enough to inspire the team to its first ever KHL playoff series victory. Lokomotiv is already just one win away from the Conference semi-finals.
(CSKA leads the series 3-0)
A second overtime win in successive games moved CSKA to within one victory of wrapping up this series, while Jokerit was left frustrated once again.
After tying 3-3 in regulation, CSKA came out for the extras in determined mood. Kirill Petrov hit the post in the first minute of overtime but Jokerit’s reprieve was short-lived as Jan Mursak claimed the game-winner. Andrei Svetlakov brought the puck out of the corner and spotted Mursak making a dart into the danger zone from the blue line. A perfectly-weighted pass found the Slovenian international in a shooting lane and his whipped the puck past Ryan Zapolski to win the game.
The early exchanges were all about Stephane Da Costa. The French international opened the scoring in the 16th minute, getting the vital deflection on Artyom Sergeyev’s shot from the point. Then his assist early in the second period helped Maxim Mamin deflect a Bogdan Kiselevich shot past Ryan Zapolski to make it 2-0.
Jokerit, knowing that defeat here would all but end its playoff campaign, rallied. Brian O’Neill scored a power play goal to halve the deficit before Tommi Huhtala tied it up early in the third period. CSKA responded within 62 seconds, Alexander Popov claiming a power play goal. Valery Nichushkin’s shot deflected against the inside of the post, and Popov was alive to the opportunity and pushed the puck into the empty net.
However, it wasn’t enough to win it. A well-worked power play goal from Ville Lajunen, who found space in the right-hand circle to despatch O’Neill’s pass, brought the scores level and took the game into overtime. But Jokerit’s hopes that it would carry the greater momentum into the extras were hampered by a penalty that carried over the 60-minute mark, enabling CSKA to take the game to the Finns from the start and force a winner quickly.
(Dynamo leads the series 2-1)
Torpedo left it late to take this game into overtime, but claimed its first victory of the playoffs at the third attempt to breathe new life into a close-fought series.
John Norman tied the game with his second goal of the night just 86 seconds before the hooter. Kaspars Daugavins saw his shot blocked by Alexander Yeryomenko, but the goalie allowed the puck to bounce towards Norman and the Swedish forward had half the net to aim for. For the second time in the game, Norman converted a big rebound, and Torpedo was saved.
Then came Brandon McMillan’s winner, five minutes into the extras. McMillan charged down the puck in center ice and streaked towards Yeryomenko’s net with the Dynamo defense in disarray. His finish was deadly; the game was won.
For the third game in a row there was little to choose between the teams. The first period produced no goals, but handed Dynamo a huge boost. A flurry of penalties in the 12th minute saw the Blue-and-Whites lose the services of Ilya Nikulin and Andrei Mironov with minor penalties and then, five seconds later, Andrei Kuteikin was handed a 5+20 after hitting an opponent in the face with his stick. Despite that long advantage – two minutes of 5-on-3, and a further three minutes of 5-on-4 – Torpedo failed to find a way through Dynamo’s defense.
But it took just three minutes of the second period to change all that as Torpedo raced into a 2-0 lead. Daugavins, a former Dynamo player, opened the scoring just 11 seconds after the restart. Then a rare error from Yeryomenko handed the host a second. A routine block went awry when the goalie lost sight of the puck as it bounced out in front of him; Norman had little difficulty in finding the net.
Dynamo rallied. A Mironov shot was deflected past Ilya Proskuryakov by Artyom Podshendyalov to reduce the arrears in the 27th minute. Then Alexei Tereshchenko tied it up in the 33rd, four seconds after a Torpedo time-out. Dmitry Vishnevsky fired in a shot, Proskuryakov parried, and Tereshchenko reacted first to the rebound.
The visitor thought the game was won when Ilya Nikulin – a player with a proud tradition of clutch goals in playoff games – added to that list with a go-ahead goal in the 52nd minute. It was a familiar play: a feed along the blue line, this time from Juuso Hietanen, and a slap shot from the point that flew through a crowded crease and into the net. But this time, Nikulin’s power play effort was not enough and Torpedo got a victory that breathes new life into this series.