ARENA RIGA – Despite going up 3-0 in the opening 20 minutes on Tuesday night, Dinamo Riga have had to settle for a 5-4 shootout win over Torpedo.
With the home side picking up three goals within the opening eighteen minutes, it appeared that Pekka Rautakallio's men were on their way to easily securing three points against the fourth placed team in the Western Conference.
However, a certain amount of complacency would kick in and when Maxim Potapov scored on a six-on-five rushed with a little over a minute remaining in regular time, the best that the home team could hope for was securing two points with in an overtime victory.
Having achieved that with Aleksandrs Nizivijs – who earlier in January had been deemed unlikely to return to the ice this season – scoring his team's third goal in the shootout to guarantee two points, the maroons now sit three points clear of eighth placed CSKA who failed to pick up any points earlier in the evening.
The gap between Dinamo Riga and ninth placed Spartak sits at 14 points.
Having failed to score a goal prior to the New Year, Girts Ankipans opened scoring in the 11th minute with his third in as many games, taking his points tally for January to four, whilst Marcel Hossa – who has been a revelation since returning to Dinamo Riga – and Kristaps Sotnieks would be accredited with the assist.
Coming back to Riga at the beginning of January, Hossa has wasted no time settling back in, having already scored four goals and picked up two assists prior to taking to the ice on Tuesday. After providing the assist on the opening goal, he would then provide his fifth goal in eight games after being set up by Krisjanis Redlihs in the 17th minute.
Just over a minute later and the fans were celebrating once more as Janis Sprukts and Guntis Galvins set up Martins Karsums for his 18th goal of the season.
In the second period Torpedo began their fight back with Vladimir Gorbunov opening the visitors' account in the 35th minute.
Midway through the final period and Martin Thornberg would bring the deficit back to one but when Galvins scored his team's fourth 24 seconds later after being assisted by Sprukts, it appeared that three points were in the bank for Dinamo Riga.
However less than another minute would pass and the deficit was again down to one with Mikhail Varnakov adding his third, only for Potapov to soon after tie scores up.
Following an uneventful overtime it was a relieved Dinamo Riga skating away with two points following the shootout, with Chris Holt halting three of the first four of Torpedo's penalty shots.
Dinamo Riga now face one of the most important matches of the month as they prepare to take on CSKA on Saturday. Should they win they will go six points clear of their closest rivals whereas a win to the visitors will leave the two teams locked on 62 points.