Gagarin Cup final, Game 3
Dynamo Moscow 0
Avangard Omsk 1
Avangard leads the series 2-1
A terrific display of defensive hockey helped Avangard Omsk silence Dynamo’s dangermen - and quell a raucous Moscow crowd - in a juddering 1-0 win at Luzhniki arena. The victory, thanks to Alexander Perezhogin’s third goal in this final series, was a tribute to a well-drilled and resilient roster which did everything possible to frustrate the hosts and claim a 2-1 advantage in the series.
Goaltender Karri Ramo, with 31 saves on his way to a third play-off shut-out of the season, deservedly claims his share of the plaudits - but it was a solid performance from every man on the team which neutralized the dangerous stickwork of Mikhail Anisin and the rugged presence of Leo Komarov. Even Dynamo’s penetrative powerplay, a feature of the Blue-and-Whites play-off progress, was blunted: seven times the home side had the advantage; seven times Avangard stood firm.
Dynamo started the game at a high tempo, and Anisin had two chances inside the first minute - but seconds later there was a warning for the home crowd as Perezhogin got through one-on-one, but fired wide of Alexander Yeryomenko’s goal. And gradually Avangard’s dangerous counter-attacks developed into an extended spell of pressure on the Moscow team’s goal. Unable to clear their zone, Dynamo made the fatal error of leaving Perezhogin with a meter of space between two defensemen; Roman Cervenka picked out his team-mate and the finish left Yeryomenko with no chance.
There was almost an instant response - Maxim Solovyov slammed a blue-liner against Ramo’s post within seconds, but even a couple of powerplays for the Blue-and-Whites could not help them tie the game before the first interval.
The second period was similar to what had gone before: while Dynamo saw slightly more of the puck - and fired in more shots on Ramo’s goal - it was Avangard which created the better chances. Dmitry Syomin might have done better after leading a 3-on-2 charge in the 26th minute, but he put his shot wide. Georgijs Pujacs thudded a slapshot into Yeryomenko’s mask, and as frustrations boiled over Sergei Soin and Sergei Kalinin were sin-binned following a tussle behind the Dynamo goal.
With Avangard scenting a third 1-0 victory of the play-offs, the team tightened the screws: forwards worked hard to close the diagonals, making it impossible to slice through the defense. In front of Ramo, fellow Finn Anssi Salmela gave a masterclass in controlling the slot, and Dynamo was left waiting for a moment of individual magic which just never sparked. And even with five seconds left, Ramo proved alert to the last possible danger: Anisin shot for the top corner, but found the goaltender’s glove rising to loop his shot over the bar and give Avangard the edge in this hard-fought series.