Penalty loaded game gives Dinamo Riga a point against Sochi
Dinamo Riga was set to finish off their lengthy four game road trip against their nemesis - HC Sochi. In previous 19 occasions when both sides met on the ice - the guest side had prevailed just once in regulation and prior to their first meeting of the season, they didn’t have any kind of victory on home turf but that changed when Riga beat them with a score of 2:1 just a few weeks ago.
Since then Sochi have gone through some changes - most importantly they have a new head coach, Andrei Nazarov who's a very familiar person in the KHL coaching ranks as well as across the pond. He tends to offer a fast paced game to his opponents, however that hasn’t worked so far - entering this match his side has lost six in a row. Dinamo Riga came into the game fresh off of a victory against Sibir Novosibirsk failing yet again to put together an extended period of earning victories. Both teams sat at the bottom of the Western conference promising an entertaining game with a slight edge for Dinamo.
Although Riga began the game with huge pressure but a mistake was made giving Sochi the first goal of the game - after a face-off victory the home team threw the puck towards the net from afar and the puck bounced around for long enough that Dmitry Kolgotin got to the puck first and managed to beat Mattsson.
Dinamo controlled the puck but couldn’t manage to shoot the puck at the net for an extended period of time, their second shot on net came with over seven minutes played in the opening frame. Their third shot on net was the important one as the game was tied - Nikolajs Jelisejevs received the pass from Lauris Darzins and wristed it into the far side of the net.
Game was aggressive enough that from time to time some rough stuff occurred and the referees had enough of it - Hunter Shinkaruk and Amir Garayev were sent to the penalty box for roughing in an attempt to calm the game down a little. It went south as at one point all players that were on the ice were chipping and holding onto each other. That worked in favour for the home side as Jere Karjalainen got an assignment to sit down for two minutes due to a tripping penalty.
An unpleasant penalty kill with Dinamo players blocking pucks and getting hurt turned into another disappointing moment as former Dinamo player and fellow Latvian Janis Jaks ripped the puck into the net allowing his team to regain a one-goal lead. Nothing was learned from their mistakes as Sochi were handed another power-play, this time Oskars Cibulskis being sent to the box for holding. Man advantage for Sochi quickly turned into a man advantage for Riga side - two penalties within a short period of time gave visitors the upper hand in body count on the ice.
The 4-on-3 power-play was no good and neither was the 5-on-3 meaning that the score remained unchanged and it was a single goal lead for the home team as the first period ended.
The second period was much like the first one - entertaining and aggressive hockey. Riga was the more dangerous team although both goalies had a fair share of saves to make in order to keep the score unchanged. Riga also played on power-play twice, not much happened the first time around and nothing the second time as well. Towards the end of the frame two fights broke out Gints Meija and Nikita Kamalov dropped the gloves and so did Daniels Berzins with Daniil Ilyin - sparks were flying but no goals were scored meaning that Sochi would still be up 2:1 heading into the third period.
Both sides continued piling up on penalty minutes in the third - Emile Poirier received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while Yegor Babenko got himself in the box for interference to begin the period. The game itself seemed to have shifted towards Sochi being the ones that had gained momentum and the control of the game with back-to-back power-plays. When playing on equal terms Riga could perform well and be close to tie the game up and they did so with less than five minutes to play - Nikita Jelisejevs with his second goal of the game from a very sharp angle to level it all and force overtime.
The seemingly obvious hero of the game for Dinamo - Jelisejevs was sent to the penalty box to begin the OT for unsportsmanlike conduct - one of many of such penalties in the game. Andrei Nazarov who had earned his first point as head coach while leading Sochi instantly called timeout to draw the final strike and they succeeded to earn the extra point and get the W at home against Dinamo Riga.
Sergei Zubov seemed disappointed in the outcome of the game but he acknowledged that it was for anyone to take and this time the opponents prevailed: ‘’First of all I want to congratulate Andrei and his team with the victory. Both teams played to win. There were chances on power-play and penalty-kill. Match turned out to be very dramatic. In the end luck wasn’t on our side but we still had enough energy to fight till the end, we didn’t give up and I’m very happy about it.’’