During its history, Metallurg has never lost a dry series in the Gagarin Cup. On six occasions, Magnitogorsk conceded by a large margin, but still took one meeting and avoided humiliation. In order to prevent a crushing fiasco, Ilya Vorobyov's charges needed to defeat Avangard on their own ice. And although at the start of the series Magnitogorsk conceded to Omsk three times in a row, bookmakers still considered them the favorites of the upcoming confrontation. Although there were few objective reasons for this.
Finding himself in an extremely difficult situation, the Magnitogorsk coach continued to look for optimal combinations of links. Semyon Koshelev and Andrei Chibisov, who did not take part in the last two matches with Avangard, returned to the starting lineup. But this castling did not save the hosts from a quick missed goal. Already at the 48th second, they frankly failed in defense and only watched as Sergei Tolchinsky scored from the spot. Two defenders switched to Arseniy Gritsyuk, who broke into the zone, but could not prevent him from performing a chic toss, and Maxim Karpov did not even try to catch up with the forward.
Thus, Metallurg created problems for itself in the very debut, but it did not stop there. In the sixth minute, Alexei Maklyukov earned a sending-off and allowed one of the most effective special teams of the majority of the current playoffs to take to the ice (30.4% of the implementation). But if Corban Knight and company failed to take their chance, Brendan Laipsick and his partners did. The star Canadian put Grigory Dronov in a striking position, and he irresistibly clicked immediately, realizing the advantage of two players: Viktor Svedberg received a two-minute penalty for pushing the stick, and Anton Belov inaccurately threw the puck away.
After that, the game itself leveled off. The teams took turns taking the initiative and exchanging protracted positional attacks. But they did not bring success. Plus, the Hawks suddenly forgot how to deal with four opponents. They failed to punish opponents for Philippe Maillet's intemperance and went into the break with the score tied.
In the course of this series, a certain trend has developed, according to which Metallurg is shockingly spending the second period. In previous meetings, they scored three times during this period and never conceded. But everything happens for the first time. Already in the ninth minute, Magnitogorsk faltered, and again they worked terribly on their third of the court. A failed pressing attempt resulted in Knight rolling unhindered behind the goal line, from where he made a pass to the spot. Three of the home team's players were cut off, and Eddie Pasquale made a mistake on the way out and could not prevent Reed Boucher from consolidating his status as Avangard's top scorer in the playoffs (5 + 5).
Vorobyov's charges could not recoup again and at least not concede in the second 20 minutes. Yes, towards the end they seized the advantage and were almost continuously in the opponent's zone, but managed to create only a couple of good episodes at the goal of Vasyl Demchenko. The closest to success was Maxim Karpov, who incredibly failed to hit the empty corner. A ricochet from the opponent's stick disoriented the goalkeeper, but the forward did not hit the puck.
And in the seventh minute of the final stretch, Mikhail Kravets' charges practically removed all questions about the winner. Metallurg's defenders again watched exclusively the movement of the puck and completely forgot about Bush. He opened up in front of the target and "shot" Pasquale, extending the scoring streak to seven matches. As well as Knight, who, along with Vladimir Tkachev, again acted as an assistant.
Metallurg did not have a leader who could lead the team and charge it for the assault. Laipsik and Maye tried to do something, but without the help of their partners, they looked helpless. Denis Zernov and Nikolai Goldobin, who did not score a single point in the confrontation with Avangard, looked absolutely "extinct".
Three and a half minutes before the siren, Vorobyov went all-in and removed the goalkeeper, but even in the numerical majority, it was not possible to seriously load Demchenko. And this despite the fact that in the end the Hawks lost Damir Sharipzyanov. Alex Broadhurst also set the point, hitting an empty target (4-1). Metallurg for the first time in history was defeated in the Gagarin Cup series with a score of 0: 4, and Avangard won the eighth victory in a row and made it to the Finals of the Eastern Conference.
Nikitin's Sad Holiday
Unlike Metallurg, Lokomotiv has already protected itself from defeat. Two days ago, Yaroslavl took advantage of adam Reideborn's mistakes and won a big victory on their own ice, thanks to which they approached the next duel with CSKA in high spirits. Only contributed to this was the anniversary of their head coach Igor Nikitin, who celebrated his 50th birthday. However, on the eve of the meeting, the coach of the railway workers admitted that on his birthday the wards had not yet achieved success.
And already at the beginning of the match it became clear: it will be extremely difficult to interrupt this unfortunate trend. In the seventh minute, CSKA conducted a massive attack, during which the puck passed through Mikhail Grigorenko to Maxim Mamin. On the first attempt, he hit the post, but from the second he still achieved what he wanted and scored points in the fifth game in a row.
It took Lokomotiv some time to recover. The life and removal of Pavel Kraskovsky spoiled the hosts, but they survived thanks to the magnificent Daniil Isaev. He prevented Maxim Sorkin and Sergei Plotnikov from scoring, and also parried the powerful "shot" of Nikita Nesterov from the blue line and thereby instilled confidence in his partners. They went forward and almost restored parity, but Maxim Berezkin did not take advantage of the great opportunity. The forward, in absolute solitude, received a pass a metre from the target and could have sent the puck into an empty corner, but hit Reideborn exactly.
After the break, CSKA did everything possible to keep the winning result. The visitors closed and in the first ten minutes only once bothered Isaev, but at the same time did not allow a serious load of Reideborn's work. The Swede showed his skill twice, but in both cases did not fail. But although the Muscovites managed to minimize the pace of the match and reduce the number of dangerous episodes, it was not possible to keep the gate intact. Like two days ago, Alexander Elesin took the goalkeeper by surprise with a crushing click from the blue line. However, this time it was not his fault. Contributed to the goal ricochet from the cuttings of Sorkin's stick.
Lokomotiv did not slow down and continued to act as the first number, but it was not possible to crack the CSKA defense. Moreover, the charges of Sergei Fedorov, although less likely to visit the opponent's zone, attacked much more sharply. Just look at Fredrik Klasson's long-range shot from the blue line, which ended with a hit to the post. However, Yaroslavl did not pay attention to this, continuing to build momentum, but ultimately suffered from excessive charge for the goal. Like their colleagues from Metallurg, they got too carried away with the offensive and missed a devastating counter-attack. Andrei Svetlakov with one pass left three opponents out of work and brought Pavel Karnaukhov to a rendezvous with Isaev. The forward effectively dealt with the goalkeeper and put the Muscovites ahead.
And although Lokomotiv still had 18 minutes left, they could not recoup. In the final period, the Railwaymen had twice as much possession of the puck, threatened Reideborn's goal much more (12-5 on shots), but could not upset the Swede a second time. But in the end, they allowed the army men to strengthen their advantage. Vladislav Kamenev scored into the empty net and brought his team the third victory in the series - 3: 1.
At the same time, one of the main characters of the meeting can be called Reideborn. After the failure in the previous confrontation, many experts doubted that Fedorov would again bet on him, but the Swede performed very confidently and repelled 24 shots (96% of saves).