(4) Atlant Moscow Region 2
(3) SKA St. Petersburg 1
Series tied 3-3
This series has turned out to be a gripping cliffhanger, allowing little time for correcting mistakes. Tonight it was Atlant’s turn to have the edge on their opponents, but the hosts’ superiority was so marginal that if the scoreboard had failed, no-one could have confidently named the better team.
The main threat to the Mytishchi team came in the shape of Evgeny Artyukhin. The Petersburg forward was trying to use his aggressive game to encourage his comrades to feel that they could rule the roost even on another’s ice, but the real hosts tenaciously kept the initiative from slipping away.
More significantly, Atlant showed no intention of playing Evgeny at his own game, although they had ample justification, and their tolerance was rewarded by the officials handing them a total of just two minutes’ penalty time, and even that was a mutual penalty.
“I was surprised the referees didn’t give us a single power play,” said SKA boss Vaclav Sykora, “but that wasn’t the deciding factor. We prepared for this game and wanted to be very active. Sadly, things only really worked out for us in the first period, although we created a lot of chances. After scoring in the second period we started making mistakes and let our opponents fight their way back.”
Both Sykora and Milos Riha were asked about an incident in the final period when Evgeny Artyukhin, again the center of attention, crashed into Sergei Mozyakin. The officials saw nothing illegal in the challenge, even though Mozyakin had considerable difficulty making it to the bench and he played no further part in the game.
“There were no special orders given to Evgeny,” said Sykora. “He doesn’t need to injure anyone. We want our players to be tough, but not dirty. However, I really wasn’t happy with Evgeny’s last penalty.”
A little earlier, Artyukhin came close to knocking out Alexander Nesterov.
Riha side-stepped the questions: “I wouldn’t like to comment on Evgeny’s play. I’ll just give a mention to our front trio of Czechs, who had really great game.”
The Czechs were indeed very lively, with an outstanding performance from Jan Marek who grabbed two points on the night. The former CSKA forward was on the receiving end of some merciless criticism when the play-offs were getting under way, but now he has clearly found form.
Jan Bulis, celebrating his birthday today, was also hungry for goals. His teammates, as they say, had no present for him, so Bulis decided to hunt for it by himself.
Alexei Yashin, who is sitting out this series through injury, was unhappy at the defeat but still optimistic: “I don’t think our opponents have an advantage over us, just because they fought back to level the series from being 1-3 down. The last game will still be on our own ice, in front of our fans. And we’ll be good enough to go through to the next round.”
Milos Riha preferred not to talk about Game 7. “Right now I’m just proud of my guys,” he underlined.
Atlant forward Oleg Petrov mentioned that while all the positive feelings may be wonderful, his team has still not won anything yet. “We need to play in Game 7 like we have in the last two. That’s going to be tough.”
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru