Ak Bars are knocked out of the Gagarin Cup by Salavat Yulaev’s fourth victory in five games.

(2) Ak Bars Kazan 0
(3) Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1

Salavat Yulaev win the series 4-1
One of the main reasons behind the champions’ three previous defeats to Salavat Yulaev in this series has been a notable lack of fortune, and Lady Luck once again turned her back on the Kazan men early in the second period of Game 5. Ufa defenseman Maxim Kondratyev sent a tame, hopeful shot from a hopeless position, the kind of effort which would never trouble a top class keeper, but lurking on the crease was Alexander Radulov and his deft touch was enough to divert the puck between the legs of Petri Vehanen.

“The puck was sent across goal,” Radulov recalled, “I slightly deflected it and it flew into the net. Maybe to some extent the goal looked like a fluke, but I meant to get my stick to it. You saw yourselves, not much of our intentional stuff went right, the puck just refused to go into the net, and besides, Vehanen had a great game as well. When you miss an open goal, as happened in one of the games in this series, it really hurts. On the other hand, a lot of games are settled by scrappy goals – like today.”

“Well you saw it yourselves” said Kazan defenseman Evgeny Medvedev, still fuming. “We had no luck in this series. I don’t think the goal that beat us was deserved by our opponents.”

“I congratulate our opponents on their victory,” was how Zinetula Bilyaletdinov began in his appearance at the press conference. “What is there to say? We played well today, but the outcome was decided by that single goal. It is an unusual situation for us for our season to finish early. What can we do? We’ll do our investigations, and then get ready for the next championship.”

“This was a really tough and tense game,” Vyacheslav Bykov, showing no signs of being a triumphant victor, forced himself to say a few words. “It’s a play-off; no place for a mild game here.”

“We needed to score, and so, in a contest between two formidable opponents, we couldn’t go the distance," Evgeny Medvedev summed up the events. “On behalf of the whole club, the whole team, I’d like to say some words of thanks to our fans for their excellent support. It’s all we can do, since we couldn’t live up to their expectations.”

Jaudat Abdullin, Kazan

(1) Avangard Omsk 4 2OT
(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3

Avangard lead the series 3-2
In Game 5 of this series Avangard, severely weakened by the absence through injury of Roman Cervenka, scraped a narrow home victory over Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

The two protagonists, having got to know each other inside out, had no need to waste time sizing each other up and so went straight into action. In just the 3rd minute the Omsk men took the lead with a goal from Jaromir Jagr – the first play-off goal from the Czech legend in the last two seasons.

“For our team, Jagr isn’t just someone who scores goals. He’s also a player that protects the team. When we’re losing 1-2 and we ask Jagr to play more in defense, he is the man to get the job done,” said the hosts’ head coach Raimo Summanen.

The fans in the Arena-Omsk celebrated the Czech’s success for under three minutes. During a bit of mayhem by the goal Karri Ramo lost sight of Tomas Rolinek, and he gratefully deflected Vitaly Atyushov’s shot into the net.

The two opponents exchanged goals yet again in the following 4 minutes, the first from Dmitry Semin, who was to pick up four points in the game, followed by a swift reply from the Magnitogorsk men with a pinpoint strike from Denis Platonov.

Things were a little calmer in the second period. It was nearly a quarter of an hour old before the spectators witnessed another goal, which came when the hosts capitalized on Oleg Kvasha’s dismissal with passes from Popov and Semin set up Igor Volkov to make the score 3-2.

It is worth singling out for special mention some players who distinguished themselves in this contest. The brightest star for Avangard was Petr Vampola, who had received the fiercest criticism after Game 2, while for Metallurg Enver Lisin, on his way back from injury, gave a superb individual display, often created havoc and set up the lion’s share of his team’s chances by gliding past one or two opponents.

In the third period most of the dangerous moments came from Avangard, and most of the mistakes were by defensemen Martin Skoula and Denis Kulyash. The visitors were solid at the back, never forgetting to attack, and after Dmitry Ryabykin was sent to the penalty box Evgeny Varlamov hit the equalizer.

When overtime came both teams were already depleted by injuries, with the visitors losing Varlamov and Rolinek and the Omsk men missing Perezhogin.

“Alexander (Perezhogin) aggravated his groin injury, and was unable to continue. Cervenka had back trouble, but I think he’ll be back in the roster before Perezhogin.” said Summanen.

The injuries and overall fatigue took their toll on Kari Heikkila’s team. The deciding moment arrived in the 87th minute when with a powerful snap shot from the blue line Andrei Pervyshin brought Avangard victory, as he did two days ago, and put his team ahead in the series.

Stanislav Mukhin, Omsk

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