Dinamo Riga were set to close out their road series where they are yet to see a W added to their total. They lost against HC Sochi in the opener and in a game where they came close to snatching two points - Ak Bars poured cold water over their hopes with a comeback with just ten minutes remaining. Final task at hand - Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.
Riga entered the game on a three-game losing streak while their opponents came into a game having lost their previous outing against SKA. The time and place couldn’t be more perfect for the visitors to snap their losing streak as they had previously defeated the Nizhnekamsk side at home earlier this season with a score of 4:3.
After a good match against Ak Bars team there weren’t too many changes but still some notable ones line-up wise - after receiving his visa Matt Lorito had joined the squad and dressed for the game as Johan Mattsson replaced Julius Hudacek in goal.
First two periods weren’t the most exciting but the third surely demonstrated a thriller and even OT followed up with high hopes but still Dinamo Riga managed to earn only a single point prior to returning home in a game that ended with a score of 2:3.
Dinamo Riga Interim coach Valerijs Kulibaba ‘’It was a real battle between both teams. In the shootout we were unlucky. After the first the team had to be cheered up. In order to win hockey games you have to play aggressive.’’
Unlucky bounce puts Riga down by a goal
Right off the get go both sides exchanged scoring chances that were troubling for both sides. Indications were that the game wouldn’t be either calm or slow in any way. Both sides battled for the puck and looked to be offensively sharp. None of the both teams could establish a territorial advantage early on.
Neftekhimik did strike first - nothing dangerous seemed to be happening as the game was played along the boards. Puck cycled around and Mikhail Sidorov at the net and Marat Khairullin headed closer to the front of the crease in order to change the direction of the puck as he was left uncovered by a Dinamo player for a redirection goal that Johan Mattsson couldn’t handle and make it 1:0.
Dinamo knew that they had to raise their own temp and chances began to create. Edgars Kulda with the best one yet as he shot the puck from a close distance but the goalie turned it away. They kept bombarding the net but the opposing team came very close to doubling their lead - puck hit the post and it cost Riga, the first penalty of the game was given. Penalty kill was successful and the match could continue with five players on each side.The result remained the same as the first frame came to an end.
Rudolf Ceverny surprises opponent to tie the game
The second period opened up with Riga trying to turn flashes of good hockey into something consistent. Pressure up-high as they did against Ak Bars showed to be the new game plan for them. Game got more physical as well in what seemed to be a more entertaining game than it would’ve been prior to the middle frame.
Shinkaruk had a near break-away shot which was turned aside, Lorito followed up with a shot which also was denied. When Neftekhimik attacked - they were dangerous as well. Pucks were blocked and saved on both sides of the ice sheet. As the game hit the midpoint the home side were still up but by just a single goal.
Finally it was time for Dinamo Riga to play on power-play and perhaps get their first goal of the game. Puck was controlled in the offensive zone in a very steady manner, no risks were taken, shots occurred but the penalty wasn’t capitalised upon.
Reece Scarlett followed up with a cross-checking penalty, setting his team behind by a man to give opponents another shot at power-play. Neftekhimik did look way dangerous forcing Mattsson to make huge saves in order to keep his team alive but this time around the penalty was taken care of by the visiting team. While nothing showed that it would come - Dinamo got on the scoresheet to tie the game - Rudolf Ceverny retrieved the puck while using a mistake of opposing defenseman and made a shot that finally went past Sudnitsin who saw nothing. Officials had to watch the video but it was confirmed that it’s a good goal. Game tied 1:1 after two periods of action.
A thriller between the sides sends game past regulation
After the first two periods was split for both teams it was hard to expect what would happen in the third and it showed - Dinamo tried to get the puck to the front of the net where Rudolf Ceverny was left all alone and it worked, the Czech forward beat Sudnitsin from a close range to give his team the first lead of the game as the score became 2:1.
All of a sudden it looked like there was just a single team playing and it was the visiting one. Opportunity after opportunity presented itself forcing the homeside to work on their own end. Small stoppages in the game should’ve helped Riga to hold on but it looked like it often would give Nizhnekamsk situations where they could level the score.
Once the game opened up again Neftekhimik would begin to pressure and fight for the puck as hard as they could but Riga’s defense was tight, negating everything that was created. An unnecessary penalty was taken by Radil to give what could be one last shot for the home team to tie the game. With the help of Mattsson the penalty was killed.
Afterwards loads of action in front of Dinamo net and puck did squeak past Mattsson but it appeared as he had been interfered with. The referees once again went to review the situation in a very crucial moment of the game. After a lengthy review, it was a good goal for Neftehimik and shorthanded time for Dinamo. Score did not change and the game went on to OT as the game was tied 2:2 after three periods.
OT decides nothing but Neftehimik secure a shootout win