Dinamo Riga traveled to Nur-Sultan to begin their two-game road trip fresh off of a victory against Torpedo Nizhny-Novgorod where young Patriks Ozols handed them an incredible overtime victory. Barys however, is on an extended home series and came into the match having lost Salavat Yulaev. Perfomance wise Dinamo Riga has stepped up lately and is riding somewhat of a hot streak having won three out of their last four games. When both sides met earlier this season the visiting side came on top with a score of 3:2.
The line-up sheet surprised no one as Riga is missing half of its roster due to injuries. They traveled with 20 men for the road trip with only five defensemen and suddenly captain Lauris Darzins and Hunter Shinkaruk were nowhere to be seen. On a late Sunday afternoon, they managed to recall two players from their junior squad but it wasn’t enough to ice four full lines meaning that players would have to rotate.
In a game where Riga had many downs and lacked ups, Barys showed them what they are capable of to net themselves two points in a huge victory with a score of 7:1.
‘’We have 12 injured players which made us change the lines and we were forced to begin the game with three lines only. It isn’t an excuse but only our goalie came out to play today, other players tried to figure out what they were doing. Don’t know if it’s because of celebrations of the New Year or something else but they weren’t ready today. We will figure things out and see what we can do to improve.’’ Vladimir Krikunov said after the game.
Dinamo started with pressure up high but the opposing side was the first to have a dangerous attack Nikita Mikhailis was first from a close range but Hudacek was determined to stop the puck. Another opportunity araised but that also was shut down. The short-staffed roster of Dinamo seemed to have given Barys a task at hand to play as fast as possible to wear out the opponent early on. Riga even struggled to exit their zone and it seemed like a long and hefty power-play for the opponent. Hudacek did have a lot of work to do.
At mid-point of the period shots showed a commanding lead for the home team 10-3, yet no goals on either side in a rather eventful hockey match. Barys seemed better in all aspects of the game - even the faceoffs having Riga look for a way to turn things around before it would be too late. The best chance for them came with a little over six minutes left when Cerveny and Radil went on a two-on-one but Ortio remained unbeaten.
Tensions were raised and teams had some scuffle near the player benches - eventful battle ended without penalties for either side. Riga started to look for their opportunities trying to run away and use a mistake of opposing defensemen but shots were either missed or stopped by Ortio. The stalemate was finally broken at the end of the period - Dinamo couldn’t manage to clear the zone which led to a solo rush by Starchenko who used goalies skate to make it 1:0.
Karsums had finished off the period with a two-minute penalty that carried over into the second frame but it caused no issues as the player safely returned to the ice with the score staying intact. However, it didn’t take long for the lead to be doubled - a quick pass by Samat Daniyar to the front of the net where Anton Sagadayev stood to backhand the puck past Hudacek.
Dinamo’s first line picked things up trying to break things and Nikolajs Jelisejevs managed to draw a penalty sending his team on to the first power-play of the game. Although the man advantage belonged to the Dinamo side - Barys had more dangerous opportunities as they kept dominating the match. Vladimir Krikunov took action as well trying to get his team going and swapped around some of the lines. As the middle point of the game approached Dinamo had a little more of the puck but still dominant perfomance by opponents.
Tomas Jurco all of a sudden was penalized for cross-checking giving Riga hope to come in closer but once again Barys went to score while short-handed, a quick one-on-one battle against the goalie but Hudacek did his part to keep the game within reach. The first goal for Dinamo finally arrived - Martins Karsums with the goal which brought him his 300th KHL point.
The celebrations were cut short as Barys answered right back - Roman Starchenko got away and chased the puck and due to Hudacek’s error of not leaving the net to play the puck all it took was a slight touch for the score to become 3:1 for the home side. The period ended with a breakaway chance for the hosts but Hudacek used his stick to negate the situation and keep the score unchanged.
Action-packed hockey to begin the final frame but the Barys side still seemed to hold the keys to unlock the safe which held two points in the standings. Riga’s attacks came but they weren’t as threatening as they would have hoped. The positive thing was that they controlled the puck a lot more than before. Lukas Radil had a superb opportunity but the puck didn’t find the end-point.
Dinamo’s efforts were awarded with a penalty for Linden Vey. The first special team’s line-up didn’t manage a whole lot but the second one had its share of opportunities but Ortio was once again superb in the way he tended his net. Barys decided that the game had to be put away and they did so - possession led to a zone entry and with an unsuspecting shot from the blue-line Jacob Berglund beat Hudacek.
Vladimir Krikunov decided that it was time for Vladislav Gross to make his Dinamo debut as he took the net to replace Julius Hudacek. For Barys it didn’t matter which goalie they would have to beat as a two-on-one led to the fifth goal in the game for them. Riga once again was given a shot with a man up but the execution still lacked although the potential was there.
Riga broke down and managed to earn two penalties that led to a five-on-three action in which Mikhailis assured that the score would be run up even further - a shot from the left face-off dot to make it 6:1. Barys managed to get themselves another one to round out the game and earn a 7:1 victory.
Martins Karsums reflected on the game and his 300th point “It was the worst game we have played this season. We had no chances here, they were two or three times faster. Maybe in the second when we got the goal there was a chance to pick things up, but the third goal ended things. We have to go through things in our heads, we have to watch video and figure out what needs to be done to fix this. We have to look at ourselves because not a single player was ready today. I’m happy to achieve the 300 point mark but we lost. There’s nothing to be happy about there. For me there have been ups and downs, more positive things that negative in the career. I’m glad that I have been able to achieve something like that in the league but it wouldn’t be possible without the people and teammates around me. A massive thanks to them, to the people that have played together with me.”