Goals and assists: 47. Surový (Chára, Klepiš), 59. Surový (Mikuš) - 25. Marchenko (Kondratiev), 32. Grabovsky (Datsyuk, Ryasensky), 47. I. Radulov (Grigorenko, A. Radulov). Scoring sequence: 0:2, 1:2, 1:3, 2:3. Shots on goal: 28:25 (8:6, 4:12, 16:7). Referees: Referees: Belov, Kulakov. Linesmen: Birin, Medvedev. Penalties: 5:6. PP goals: 2:1. Attendance: 12 731.
Lev: Pöpperle - Škoula, Němec, Chára, Porseland, Sersen, Hunkes, Krejčík - Bartečko, J. Svoboda, Birner - Hossa, Vrána, Klepiš - Surový, Mikúš, Christensen - Sekáč, Novotný, Řepík - Cingel.
CSKA Moscow: Staňa - Ryasensky, Rylov, Mäenpää, Denisov, Kondratiev, Marchenko, Sergeyev, Gimayev - A. Radulov, Grigorenko, I. Radulov - Zharkov, Grabovsky, Datsyuk - Kugryshev, Zubov, Persson - Barbashev, Sprukts, Lyubimov.
The three periods of Thursday night´s game at O2 Arena really were like three distinct hockey games. The first was a defensive battle with strong goaltending at each end. The second period was marked by CSKA´s speed, as they opened up a two-goal lead. And then, just when it looked like HC LEV was going to have trouble keeping the score close, they came back with a dominant third period which, if not for a brief but costly lapse, could have salvaged at least a point from.
The two goalies, Tomáš Pöpperle and Rastislav Staňa, were the two key figures of the first period. Pöpperle was thrust into the spotlight a minute in when a dangerous turnover led to Mikhail Grabovsky being alone in front with the puck. After patiently making a move which seemed to put the goalie down and out, Grabovsky had almost an empty net to put the puck into, but Pöpperle´s right pad came out to kick the puck out of mid-air in what seemed like an optical illusion to many in attendance. It was not the last time that Grabovsky and Pöpperle would go head to head against each other.
Five minutes later, the Lions got their first good chance when Jaroslav Svoboda set up Ľuboš Bartečko beautifully in front. Trying to quickly re-direct it before Staňa could get across, the veteran tipped the puck just wide. Bartečko would get several chances in the game, but never managed to beat his Slovak compatriot. Staňa, the busier of the two goalies in the first period, stopped Jakub Klepiš from point-blank range midway through the period, and then Pöpperle did likewise against defenceman Mikko Mäenpää, and the period ended scoreless.
CSKA began the second period with a power play carried over from late in the first and, though they didn´t score on it, they set the tone of play that would be maintained through most of the frame. Just over four minutes into the period, Maxim Kondratiev found Alexei Marchenko uncovered in the slot, and he let a hard wrist shot go from the hash marks that Pöpperle really had no chance on.
After a Lev power play that failed to generate much offence, Igor Radulov came out of the penalty box and led a two-on-one that Pöpperle had to come up big on. The CSKA power play that came a few minutes later was much more dangerous, though. After the first unit, which included the ever-dangerous Radulov brothers, maintained pressure, the second unit that included Pavel Datsyuk and Mikhail Grabovsky came through on a two-on-two rush, with the latter making a brilliant move on a defenceman and then beating Pöpperle to the stick side to make it 2-0.
Late in the period, Lev did manage to generate their first sustained pressure of the period, but they were still two goals down after 40 minutes and did not look capable of coming back; they had been shut out five straight periods by Staňa and CSKA by this time.
Whatever paint-peeling speech Josef Jandač gave his boys in the second intermission, though, obviously had some effect, as they came out strong right from the drop of the puck and pretty much maintained it for most of the 20 minutes.
in the opening minute of the third, Petr Vrána set up Klepiš nicely, forcing Staňa to make another good save; the start of what would be a busy period for him. A couple of minutes later, he had trouble with Erik Christensen´s laser and the puck bounced on the goal line with a defenceman diving in to try to keep it from crossing the line. Several Lev sticks came into the air though, and the officials had to check video replay to confirm that the puck didn´t cross the line.
At 4:18 of the third, Igor Grigorenko cleared the puck over the glass and got a delay-of-game penalty, However, Lev´s power play had not been effective on its first three opportunities, which included a 23-second two-man advantage in the first period. This time was different, though, and after sustained pressure for most of the two minutes, Zdeno Chara fired a bullet from the point that Tomáš Surový got his stick on and deflected past Staňa to make it a one-goal game. The crowd, frustrated to this point with the lack of offense, exploded.
The euphoria was short-lived, though. In almost the perfect example of a post-goal letdown, CSKA´s top line took advantage of some confusion and Igor Radulov was left alone to put in a loose puck just 18 seconds later to restore the two-goal lead and quickly deflate the building.
But if the fans were disheartened, the players didn´t seem to be, as they went right back to work. Captain Jiří Novotný and youngster Jiří Sekáč showed some great chemistry working together, the latter getting a good shot away and, moments later, the captain had a glorious chance robbed by an errant glove lying in the goal crease that stopped his shot.
With under four minutes to play, Ondrej Němec made a great play to deny a two-on-one opportunity for Grabovsky and Datsyuk, authors of CSKA´s second goal, to keep the home side´s slight flicker of hope alive. Then, with 3:37 left and a faceoff in the attacking zone, Jandač called a timeout and pulled his goalie.
It almost backfired, as Grabovsky took a shot at the open net from centre ice a short time later, but he missed, and then was called for holding on the backcheck. Just 14 seconds later, Juraj Mikúš made a nice pass from the corner to Surový in front, who once again made it a one-goal game with 1:50 left.
In what was becoming an increasingly unexpected and surreal third period, Grabovsky was hauled down heading to the Lev net with the puck and awarded a penalty shot, pitting him one-on-one with Pöpperle once more. Needing the save to keep his team alive, "Peppy" out-waited his opponent and made another pad save.
Incredibly, Grabovsky had yet another chance to put the game away and failed yet again. In the last minute, he was two-on-one with Igor Radulov on the empty net, but his pass attempt failed to connect, giving Lev yet another reprieve. However, time ran out on the Lions, and an inspiring third-period effort went for naught, other than whatever confidence they may draw from it.
Comments of coachesValery Bragin (HC CSKA Moscow): We managed to play a very strong second period in which we opened a two-goal gap. Our opponent came at us hard in the third and we were back on our heels, but fortunately we scored that third goal.
Josef Jandač (HC LEV Praha): From our side, it was not a good game. When we had nearly pulled even, we once again made a mistake.