Dinamo Riga put in a big performance – with recent signing Andrei Makarov huge in goal – to test this season’s surprise package Vityaz. The visitor knew that it could return to the top of the KHL table with a result here but found itself trailing the bottom club for much of the game. Dinamo, without a win in seven, had allowed 20 goals in its last four games and scored just once but produced a much more competitive display here before losing out late in the game.
Grabbing the opening goal was crucial for the Latvians – and Vitalijs Pavlovs did just that in the eighth minute. Roberts Lipsbergs went on the charge down the right and his pass picked out Pavlovs at the top of the left-hand circle. The forward took two touches and fizzed an unstoppable shot past Ilya Ezhov.
Dinamo continued to enjoy the better of the first period but in the second Vityaz raised the tempo dramatically. Makarov pulled off 22 stops in that middle frame alone as the high-flyer looked to get back into the game. Then, at the start of the third period, came the equalizer. Evgeny Artyukhin claimed the goal, but Riga could feel hard done by after Evgeny Katichev’s point shot deflected into his path. Artyukhin’s shot also took a deflection on its way to goal, slowing the puck but not allowing a defenseman time to hook it off the line.
Makarov continued to impress in the home net and he was at his best to deny Jakub Jerabek midway through the period, despite losing his stick in a scramble in front of his net. But he had no answer when Pavel Chernov found space in a central position and fired his shot through a screen to give Vityaz the lead with four minutes to play.