On the eve of the game a lot of talk was devoted, of course, to the incident at the end of the first match when Alexei Morozov took a blow to the head from Patrick Thoresen’s elbow.

“Is everything alright with Morozov?” Ak Bars head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was asked.
“To some degree, yes. Last night it was unclear whether he would play or not, but this morning they had another look and then Alexei confidently told us that he can play, and that he wants to.”

After the match, the Kazan captain himself commented, “I feel fine. As for my opponent’s motives, you’d better ask him.”

In the first period the teams were once again cagey and cautious. As usual, the Ufa men applied the early pressure and then waited for Ak Bars to come at them, but the visitors had other plans. In the second period the hosts switched to out-and-out attack, but then the guests were in powerplay and Ilya Nikulin’s weak but crafty shot gave Ak Bars the first goal.

”It was a very tough game, the Ufa guys made a powerful start, but we stuck to our own plan and that brought us the result,” said Ak Bars forward Alexei Badyukov.

The third period was the hosts’ best spell so far. As we entered the last minute, Salavat seemed in no hurry to pull their goaltender for a sixth skater, but then, with just half a minute left, Vitaly Kolesnik finally left his post, and with just fifteen seconds to spare Vladimir Antipov equalized.

“We were late organizing the switch. Our defender strayed towards the goal, leaving Antipov in lots of free space, and he shot and scored,” Badyukov said about the goal.

But in overtime a weak effort from Hannes Hyvonen somehow crawled through Kolesnik’s legs and into the goal.

“We still can’t find a way past their goaltender. We’ll practice some more,” said Vyacheslav Bykov when asked about the reason for his team’s failure.

“The Ak Bars goaltender put in a great performance. Wasn’t this the only reason you lost?”
“When you concede two goals, of course you are not completely happy with your defense.”

“And were you happy with Kolesnik?”
“When you lose it means the whole team is to blame. I’m not going to heap all the blame on one single player.”

“It was a tough battle, and it was difficult for our guys, and I’m proud of all of them.” Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said in his usual style.

“What’s the secret of your team’s successes on their travels.”
“My players give their all and this gets us the results.”

“And luck is also a factor?”
“Absolutlely”

“You know, we just shoot the wrong shots at their goaltender,” said Salavat attacker Viktor Kozlov.

The series now moves to Kazan, where the Ufa men will need to shoot the “right” shots at Petri Vehanen so that Saturday’s game will not be their last home match of the season.

Andrei Lopata

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