(1) Ak Bars 3
(4) Avangard 4 (2OT)
Avangard leads the series 1-0
Ak Bars and Avangard, those two old foes, served up a thrilling opener to their series. It took an overtime strike from Sergei Shirokov to snap a 3-3 tie and give Avangard the early initiative in what promises to be a classic series.
Shirokov struck deep into the second period of overtime, just after Ak Bars had killed a penalty. He got in the right place to fire home the loose puck after Erik Gustafsson’s shot bobbled around in front of the net.
The game should have been a celebration of home coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s 60th birthday, but it quickly became clear that Avangard was not willing to play the perfect guest. On the contrary, the Omsk team came within 61 seconds of snaffling the birthday cake for itself before Alexander Svitov got his second of the night to take us into overtime.
Svitov also started the scoring, albeit in somewhat freakish fashion. Konstantin Barulin, Avangard’s goal ...