This final series stubbornly refuses to be predictable. The first four games all went the way of the visiting side, but in Gameh 5 the near-forgotten concept of home advantage returned to aid the Balashikha men, and it appeared again in no small measure here in Kazan for Game 6.

Fate alone seemed to be the deciding factor in the opening period. Ak Bars scored twice, thanks to strikes from Niko Kapanen and Grigory Panin, but HC MVD created more than enough dangerous moments around Petri Vehanen’s goal.

The visitors, however, faded considerably in the second period, even allowing Jarkko Immonen and Ilya Nikulin to score in powerplay – a feat which Ak Bars, apart from in Game 2, had singularly failed to perform throughout the series. And soon after, Alexander Stepanov struck the hosts’ fifth goal, triggering a change in the visitors’ goal with Alexei Volkov taking the place of Michael Garnett.

The slaughter continued unabated in the third period, Nikita Alexeyev and man of the match Alexei Yemelin (pictured) making it 7-0 – an almost indecent scoreline for a final series. Yemelin turned 24 today, and before scoring his goal he had already marked his birthday with assists for four others.

Two minutes before the end, Alexander Shibaev finally inflicted some damage to Vehanen’s statistics, but given the margin of defeat the consolation goal was scant consolation for the visitors.

“It is not a tragedy,” was HC MVD head coach Oleg Znarok’s cheerful reaction. “The fans in Balashikha are happy we took this series to a seventh game, and that they will be there to see it. There is a great atmosphere in our changing room, and we are already looking forward to the deciding match.”

Djaudat Abdullin


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