Duel between Serebryakov and Bilyalov

On the eve of the start of the playoffs, few expected that in the second round Ak Bars would have to fight not with Salavt Yulaev, but with Admiral. At the start of the Gagarin Cup, Leonid Tambiev's charges created a sensation and knocked out the second team of the East, and in the away matches of the series they gave a real fight to the conference leader. In both, Vladivostok lost only with a minimal difference in the score, and at home they were ready to surprise again.

Before the start of the meeting, few doubted the victory of the nominal favorite. The odds on the success of the visitors were 1.93, while on the triumph of the hosts - as much as 4.09. And although Ak Bars was again more active at the start, it did not dominate on the ice, as two days ago. Moreover, the Admiral's chances were no worse. What is worth only a three-on-two exit, which ended not with the best shot of Evgeny Grachev or the hit of Alexander Gorshkov in the mask of Timur Bilyalov.

Ak Bars woke up after the break and picked up the tempo again. And Nikita Serebryakov immediately had much more work to do. In the second period alone, he was forced to step into the game 17 times, and at times to work miracles in the frame to leave his goal intact. For example, when in a few seconds stanislav Galiev was prevented from scoring, and then Alexander Radulov, who attacked at point-blank range.

It is noteworthy that the last episode arose at a time when Daniil Gutik was serving a double small fine. And that was just one of eight manifestations of intemperance on the part of rivals. Both Admiral and Ak Bars sinned with sending-offs throughout the confrontation, but they could not take advantage of their chances. This could be expected from Vladivostok residents. In the playoffs, their percentage of majority realization is only 11.5% (only Metallurg is worse). However, such extravagance of Kazan residents surprised. Taking into account the fact that according to this indicator they are in the top 6 of the Gagarin Cup (25.6%).

However, the visitors' regular visits to the bench helped the hosts to double them in the third period (21:10). However, the same Serebryakov reached overtime. It seemed that nothing could prevent Artem Lukoyanov, who broke out for a rendezvous with goalkeeper, but Nikita made an incredible save and left Admiral in the game. As a result, he made as many as 48 saves and recorded the first "cracker" in the current playoffs.

Unlike him, Bilyalov failed to defend for zero, although he performed magnificently. And in the third period, he performed one of the most beautiful saves of the tournament. The goalie averted one threat, then stretched out in the twine and stopped the puck on the ribbon, and then also blocked several attempts to finish. However, the attention of the fans was taken over by the chief referee, who jumped on the gate in an attempt to determine whether the Admiral hockey players managed to score a goal.

Bilyalov faltered only at the end of the 14th minute of extra period. Not to say that Yevhen Lisovets' shot was unbreakable, but the traffic in front of the goal deprived the Ak Bars goalkeeper of the opportunity to react in time. The Belarusian struck the near corner and brought admiral a crucial victory. Tambiev's charges reduced the gap in the series with Ak Bars and strengthened their status as the main opening of the playoffs.

Torpedo's bad luck

A difficult test lay ahead for the wards of Roman Rotenberg. Like Kazan, they twice took the upper hand at home, but there was no question of total domination of St. Petersburgers. Both matches turned out to be very equal and ended with a minimal difference in the score. Moreover, in the first SKA managed to squeeze Torpedo only in overtime, where the only "shot" of Dmitry Yashkin reached the target. For comparison, Nizhny Novgorod forced Dmitry Nikolaev to enter the game six times, but the 23-year-old goalkeeper survived.

The goalie started the first away game of the Western Conference semifinals with confidence. During the first minutes, Nizhny Novgorod residents disturbed Nikolaev several times, but he stood by the wall. And over time, his confidence was transferred to his partners. St. Petersburg seized the initiative and shocked the second part of the period, thanks to which they not only surpassed their opponents in shots on target (9: 8), but also twice took Ivan Kulbakov by surprise. And in both cases, the defenders did not give him proper support. First, they allowed SKA to organize a lightning-fast counterattack, which ended with an accurate throw by Marat Khairullin to the "house", and then slept through the spurt on the spot of Damir Zhafyarov. Daniil Bokun only watched from the sidelines as the striker "shoots" the half-empty goal and consolidates the advantage of the visitors.

Avtozavodtsy had nothing to lose. And after the break, they pushed the pace of the match to the maximum, which was by no means low before. And the army men increasingly began to keep up with their rapid breakthroughs. Already at the 21st second, Emil Galimov went to the bench for hitting with a stick, and four minutes later Nikolai Prokhorkin was sent off for the same violation. And twice in the role of the victim was Nikolai Kovalenko - one of the most active hockey players in the hosts.

Igor Larionov's charges received another chance to realize their numerical superiority in the middle of the period, when Andrei Pedan violated the rules. But this time it ended in even greater disappointment for them. Torpedo not only failed to reduce the gap, but also allowed SKA to score in the minority. This time, Kovalenko scored with a minus sign - he broke a click on the touch and helped the opponents organize a sharp counter-attack, which ended in an impromptu shootout. Alexander Nikishin swung Kulbakov and threw the puck between the goalie's legs again. At the same time, Khairullin assisted him.

The third goal conceded was broken by Torpedo. Yes, Larionov's charges continued to advance by inertia, but the same zeal was no longer there. Although Nikolaev still had a hard time. He was repeatedly forced to save his team. Fortunately, he succeeded. At times, Dmitry did something incredible in the frame and helped out his partners in hopeless situations. Already in the second minute, he was lying down to prevent Kirill Voronin from scoring, and then saved in the episode with the substitution of Artem Mikheev.

As a result, nizhny Novgorod residents could not make fortune turn to face themselves. Even SKA's three sending-offs in the final stretch did not help them to revive the intrigue, none of which was ever realized. As a result, Nikolaev scored 38 saves and earned the title of one of the main heroes of the confrontation, and Khairullin put a spectacular point in it. The forward struck the already empty gate of Torpedo and bypassed Nikita Gusev in the list of the best scorers of St. Petersburg in the playoffs (5 + 6).