On the eve of the fifth match of the quarterfinal series of the Gagarin Cup, Lokomotiv had no right to make a mistake. At home, he won against CSKA only once, although he achieved a defeat, and then lost - 1: 3. In a rather boring game, the army men managed to convert all the chances they had, scored three times with only 14 shots and stopped a step away from reaching the next stage.
Now the Railwaymen needed to beat the current trophy holder on the road for the first time in the current confrontation. In the first two meetings, they were defeated (0:2, 2:3). Moreover, Yaroslavl did not prevail at the CSKA Arena in the Gagarin Cup for two years - from March 2021. Then they successfully opened another quarterfinal series, but in the end they were weaker, as in the first round of the playoffs a year later, when they lost to the charges of Sergei Fedorov in four matches. However, his counterpart Igor Nikitin, despite the extremely difficult situation, believed in success.
"A good opponent plays against us, and we must not just survive in these situations, but be able to realize the moments that appear. That's probably the difference in this series. So far, "the expert noted.
And his charges with the starting siren really rushed forward. They also benefited from the removal of Nikolai Makarov for the bandwagon. The visitors literally locked the opponent in the zone, although they failed to realize the majority.
In equal compositions, they also looked preferable. With losses, Yaroslavl immediately tried to turn on high pressure and regain the puck. And high-speed passes on the flanks often ended in dangerous moments. What is worth at least the hit of Alexander Polunin in the post after a raid on the right edge. Adam Reideborn played outstandingly, helping out his teammates on multiple occasions and recording 11 saves over the period. I especially remember the rescue of the Swede after the click of Artur Kayumov. The striker burst into the free zone right in the center and threw into the left corner, but the goalkeeper managed to "unfasten" the shield.
However, the army men, despite the pressure of the opponent, cautiously and collectedly acted in defense and calmly waited until Nikitin's team ran out of strength. This happened near the end of the period. Now the puck was more often in the visitors' zone, and Daniil Isaev had to enter the game. However, in general, the advantage remained with Lokomotiv, which made twice as many shots (11 against five).
Somehow, it seemed like a goal was brewing. Both teams created a lot of chances and had to start converting them sooner or later. But in fact, the second segment turned out to be frankly boring. The Railwaymen were more likely to go forward by inertia, but did not even come close to having the sharpness at the Reideborn goal that in the opening stretch. They still tried to impose high pressure, but did not often bring the matter to shots. The Swede deflected seven more clicks, but in most cases he was just quietly doing his job. Often the game was reduced to wrestling at the boards and martial arts.
Opponents stepped up only closer to the second break. Army added again at the end and forced the visitors to close in the zone. However, at first they were forced to spend two minutes in the minority for a violation of the rules by Yaroslav Dyblenko. And then they earned the first majority after a foul by Alexei Marchenko. However, the Muscovites missed the most obvious chance in equal compositions. And he came as if out of nowhere. Darren Dietz accidentally struck a mighty click from the blue line, and Isaev was not ready for it. Fortunately for Lokomotiv, the puck hit the crossbar.
The final period also began rather slowly. The opponents continued to act extremely carefully, realizing that any mistake in such a match could decide its outcome. Yaroslavl still looked a little more active, but the Muscovites did not allow them to fight their way to a close distance. I remember only the episode when Egor Averin and Alexander Polunin alternately threw from the spot, but the hosts were rescued by Reideborn.
Added emotions to the hockey players was Isaev's clash with Anton Slepyshev. In hockey, goalies rarely get into fights, but Daniil was provoked and he climbed on the opponent with his fists. As a result, both received a two-minute penalty. Polunin went to the bench for the goalkeeper. But it was not possible to create anything in the four-on-four format.
However, when there was already a feeling that overtime could not be avoided, Nikitin's charges scored. Fedorov's team was ruined by unnecessary violations of the rules. In the previous meeting, they almost did not allow them, which was also the key to success. On Saturday, the red and blue earned ten minutes of penalties against four opponents. It is not surprising that in the 52nd minute Yaroslavl converted the majority for the removal of Dyblenko. Maxim Shalunov broke into the zone, but a defender stood in his way. The puck was immediately picked up by Artur Kayumov and thrown from mid-range into the far corner. Raideborn deflected a click right in front of him and the same Kayumov managed to get ahead of his opponent on the rebound and perform a discount on the free Maxim Berezkin. The forward scored his second goal in the playoffs and upset CSKA again.
The Army men had plenty of time left before the final siren. The visitors were forced to press against their goal, but at the same time they acted without unnecessary panic and at the first opportunity they missed, not thinking about counter-attacks. And Isaev was reliable on the last frontier. In total, he stopped 21 shots and played his second game to zero in the current Gagarin Cup. The Army men were let down in the end by Dietz, who made a trip and deprived the team of the chance to play in the majority by removing Reideborn.
Thus, Lokomotiv won the first away victory over CSKA in the playoffs in two years and revived the intrigue in the confrontation. On March 27, he will host his opponent at home and has the opportunity to equalize the score in the series.