On the eve of the Eastern Conference finals of the KHL playoffs, Avangard looked rather the favorite. Omsk in four matches completed the series with Metallurg and received a pause of eight days. "Ak Bars" last match with "Admiral" held a little later - on March 26. In addition, he had to make a difficult trip from Kazan to Vladivostok twice.

The return of Damir Sharipzyanov to action also played into the hands of the guests. The captain was injured in the final game against Magnitogorsk and was even hospitalized. However, on the day of the match, he was removed from the injured list and included in the application. But another defender Semyon Chistyakov fell ill and could not help the team of Mikhail Kravets.

Despite all the forecasts, the starting period was completely left to Ak Bars. The hosts cold-bloodedly punished the opponent for the first mistake - Nail Yakupov played a high stick and went to the bench. Less than a minute was enough for Kazan to demonstrate one of their strengths - the realization of the majority.

Vyacheslav Voynov took a powerful shot from the blue line, and the puck bounced away from Alexei Bereglazov directly to Alexander Radulov. The forward could not send it into the net, but it was dmitry Kagarlitsky, located in the right corner. He scored his tenth point in the current playoffs.

Before the meeting, there was a lot of talk about the duel of the leading links of the teams. And if Vladimir Tkachev's trio was almost invisible, Radulov led his partners. At every opportunity, he pushed to the spot and before the break recorded two dangerous clicks, which Vasily Demchenko coped with not without difficulty. One of them took place in unequal lineups, when Omsk remained in the minority for the optional sending off of Ivan Telegin.

The visitors only created the first dangerous chance in the middle of the stretch. Fyodor Malykhin from a killer position failed to close off his partner's hard pass from the boards. But it was a rare episode when Kazan allowed the Hawks to approach their own goal. As a rule, they met them in the middle zone and acted as harshly as possible, not allowing them to breathe freely and raise their heads. As a result, Timur Bilyalov had to make only four saves in the first period.

In the second 20 minutes, the other leaders of the hosts, including the goalkeeper, showed themselves magnificently. Immediately after the break, the visitors significantly increased the pressure on the other side's goal, well aware that it was necessary to equalize the score as soon as possible. They threw the puck from the flanks in the direction of someone else's spot at the first opportunity with the hope of a set-up. There were also regular shots.

But Bilyalov was excellent. He always competently took a position on the last line and timely reduced the distance. It was especially difficult for Timur in the middle of the period, when opponents constantly forced him to enter the game. Most memorable was Arseniy Hrytsyuk's click from a couple of meters after his partner's transfer to the right, when the goalkeeper calmly deflected the puck with a trap. As a result, he recorded 12 more saves.

Avangard's activity in the foreign zone could not but turn into dangerous counter-attacks by Ak Bars. In the first such case, the wards of Zinetula Bilyaletdinov forgave the Omsk residents. They ran three-on-one, but Kagarlitsky, having received an excellent pass from Vadim Shipachyov, miraculously threw higher from a killer position.

But in the 32nd minute, Kazan still increased their advantage. Once again, those from whom it was expected came to the fore. Voynov made an interception in his own half and made a pass to Shipachyov, scoring his second point of the match. Vadim found Kagarlitsky on the blue line with a terrific cutting pass. Dmytro ran away to a rendezvous with Vasyl Demchenko and this time did not miss his chance, throwing between the shields to the goalkeeper. On the Hawks, this goal dealt a strong blow: they boldly went forward and were close to rebounding, but missed more. Therefore, in the remaining time before the break, Kazan could have scored rather.

However, the visitors did not think to give up and in the final stretch made an impressive comeback. And at first, nothing foreshadowed trouble for the owners. Not only did they defend calmly, but they regularly carried out dangerous counterattacks. What is worth at least the hit of Nikita Dynyak in the crossbar. Next, Radulov once again tried to shoot Demchenko from an acute angle. The puck slipped between the goalie's shields, but it was carried off the spot by a partner.

Omsk had enough of one single mark of rivals. Kazan acted, although tough, but extremely carefully, realizing that Avangard plays great in the majority. But in the middle of the final period, Vasily Tokranov still committed the first violation of the rules, making a trip. And Kravets' charges simply had no right not to use such an opportunity and not to join the game. Moreover, Korban Knight managed to score again, who brought his effective streak in the playoffs to eight meetings. After a ricochet from Bilyalov's helmet, he finished the puck into the net.

"We scored well: in the majority and on the counter-attack. But the deletions let us down. It's good that we ended overtime like that. In such matches, you can not break the rules. We talk about it all the time. But, unfortunately, there are such cases," Bilyaletdinov complained after the meeting.

The Hawks had plenty of time left before the final siren and began storming the other side's gate. But Ak Bars also organized dangerous counterattacks on occasion. So, in the 55th minute, Kirill Panyukov missed a terrific chance to put an end to the confrontation. First, he didn't convert a one-on-one opportunity, and then miraculously didn't hit the empty corner from the spot.

Soon Omsk removed the goalkeeper and locked the opponent in the zone. However, Kazan defended selflessly and calmly, practically not allowing the puck to reach Bilyalov's goal. They were ruined by Kirill Semenov's foul less than a minute before the end. The forward threw the puck out of the court. Four against six visitors was extremely difficult to survive.

But Bilyaletdinov's charges were close to this. One Melon took on a couple of Knight's powerful clicks. Still, Avangard was lucky. Three seconds before the siren, Ivan Telegin made a stunning pass to the spot from the starboard side, and the uncovered Knight struck the net from a meter.

To the credit of Kazan, having survived such an offensive ending, they did not give up. An experienced mentor also contributed to this. To cheer up the wards, he took an extremely unusual step: he sent hockey players to the corridor directly at the court a few minutes before the start of overtime.

At first, it seemed that this trick would not work. Inspired and believing in themselves, the Omsk residents flew forward in the hope of throwing more and winning a strong-willed victory. No sooner had the siren sounded than Reed Buscher from the port side threw Bilyalova into the trap. Next, Ziyat Paigin raced down the right flank to someone else's goal, but from an acute angle failed to push the puck on target.

The more unexpected was the quick goal of Ak Bars. Moreover, it was built by hockey players, who became the main anti-heroes of the team in the main time. Semyonov, who earned a fateful sending-off, made a neat save on Panyukov, who missed a hundred percent chance. And the striker did not disappoint this time, from the right circle throwing exactly into the far nine without a chance for Demchenko.

Thus, the fans of both teams experienced the whole gamut of emotions this evening: from despair to jubilation. Kazan still turned out to be stronger, and this result can be called deserved. And the opening meeting should set the tone for the entire Final series of the Eastern Conference.

"We are not girls, we need to prepare for the next game. The series doesn't end there. Do they write in the press about the loss of tone? In the media, this is the reasoning of those who, probably, do not quite understand the situation. I believe that rest and recovery bring only benefits, "Kravets emphasized.