Defense is the key

4 April 2012, 19:49

Eastern Conference final, Game 4
(2) Avangard Omsk 3
(1) Traktor Chelyabinsk 1
Avangard leads the series 3-1
Dominant defense was the key as Avangard beat Traktor 3-1 – and the Siberian side now has a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final series.

Karri Ramo, who has had his conflicts with Avangard coach Raimo Summanen this season, extended his unbeaten run between the piping to 170 minutes before finally conceding 51 seconds from the end of his team’s 3-1 success, making 25 saves along the way to add to the 19 he had on Monday.

At the other end, Traktor’s Michael Garnett had a more difficult day: Avangard’s first period opener came from Yegor Averin, who picked his spot to shoot through a crowd while the goaltender was screened by two home forwards. And his woes increased in the second session when Dmitry Syomin’s tester from the right wing bounced away from Garnett and into the path of Alexei Kalyuzhny who duly poked the puck into the unguarded net. And Garnett was left watching from the bench as Traktor went all out for an unlikely equalizer, only to be caught short when Roman Cervenka’s empty netter put him on 10 goals and 18 points in the play-offs so far.

With Avangard’s defense in such commanding form, the pressure on regular season champion Traktor is growing. The teams meet again in Chelyabinsk on Friday with the hosts knowing that only victory will do if they are to keep their Gagarin Cup dream alive. By contrast, Avangard knows it is just one win away from joining Dynamo Moscow in the grand final.


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