Georgy Gelashvili, having lost the decisive duel to Alexei Tsvetkov, immediately fled to the changing room, practically crashing through the barriers to get away from the ice. Such was his haste he could not even wait for the curtain to be raised, but elected to duck under it, almost crawling on his knees. Once there, he shut himself away and would not let his teammates in for some time.
“I’m not happy with our goaltender,” - said Petr Vorobiev, head coach of the Yaroslavl club, at the press conference, and he made it known he would be thinking about who will play in goal for the next match.
But in reality, Lokomotiv have little choice in the matter, as they have no other keeper with such a wealth of experience at this level, and Vorobiev probably made the statement in order to motivate Gelashvili.
It would be an injustice, however, to suggest that the Militia men conquered their opponents simply due to goaltending errors. In fact, blame can only be directed at Georgy for the second goal he conceded, and a lot happened in the match after that - not least Lokomotiv leveling the score just before the end of the third period.
“Yes, the guys had no nerves in the changing room,” said Tsvetkov of the mood among the HC MVD players as they awaited overtime. “And the coach did not order any change in tactics. We all understood that we mustn’t start backing off to our own goal, but just play our own game.”
A matter of minutes after Tsvetkov’s penalty shot had settled the encounter it seemed the journalists were more overcome with emotion than were the players.
“You converted the penalty shot so well. Had you been practicing?”
“Practice? How could I have known there would be a shoot out?” said a tired Tsvetkov.
“But you knew how to get the better of Gelashvili?”
“I knew what to do only when I took the puck in the center and started heading toward the goal.”
“You had a special plan just for Georgy?”
“Come on, be serious! Of course not!”
It is worth mentioning that HC MVD this season, despite being champions of their division, had not won a single shoot-out but had lost six out of six. Head coach Oleg Znarok was asked why Tsvetkov in particular was given the mission. He dryly replied, “I just decided.”
“But why not, for example, Gennady Stolyarov?”
“It’s just what I decided.”
Meanwhile, Tsvetkov was still receiving congratulations, but had hardly the strength to manage a smile.
“It is only the first game,” he said, “there is nothing to say. It was a tough game.”
The HC MVD players should watch the replays of how they played in what was probably the best performance of this season’s play-offs. While leading 2-0 they had a wonderful chance to secure victory, but the shot came back off the pipes. The team put in excellent work to make up for Martin Strbak’s double minor penalty.
“The officials were great today,” said a pleased Tsvetkov, “they only punished the obvious fouls, and they allowed the players to play.”
Tsvetkov refused to talk about himself, but it is a principle of this HC MVD not to single players out and this is surely a good thing - teamwork is the main weapon in the HC MVD arsenal.
The Yaroslavl players refused to comment at first, but later Alexei Mikhnov gave an unexpected summary of the match.
“The Balashikha arena is humid, hot, and the ice is very bad. But this is in no way an excuse. I am sure these problems are the same for our opponents. We simply didn’t put in enough work at certain times. We didn’t score when we had chances."
It will be just as hot and humid on Friday.