Gagarin Cup final, Game 6
Dynamo Moscow 5
Avangard Omsk 2
Get ready for the final showdown! Dynamo Moscow's 5-2 win over Avangard has sent the Gagarin Cup final to a winner-takes-all clash in Omsk on Wednesday, with the capital team twice denying its Siberian opponent the chance to secure the big prize. For the first time in the series the miserly Avangard defense - missing Anton Belov after it emerged he had failed a drug test - was unpicked by some blistering attacking play from the hosts. Goals came from neat interplay on the Gorovikov-Komarov-Anisin line, and also from a moment of individual magic from Marek Kvapil.
As on Saturday in Omsk, Dynamo could not have asked for a better start when Leonid Komarov opened the scoring after just 53 seconds. Before the game the big talking point was how Avangard's defense would cope in the absence Belov, and it was Belov's replacement Yury Alexandrov who was caught in possession before Konstantin Gorovikov set up Komarov to tap into an open goal.
Avangard was pushed back in the opening stages, but responded to score from almost its first goal attempt - and produced one of the best bits of hockey of the final series to date. Alexei Kalyuzhny, a former Dynamo man, delivered a beautiful diagonal to pick out the unmarked Martin Skoula sweeping in at the back post to level the scores. But it was still Karri Ramo who was the busier of the goaltenders, and when he gave up a rebound on a Denis Kokarev shot it was Denis Mosalyov who reacted fastest to reinstate Dynamo's lead. And this season's stats show that when teams start scoring on Ramo, the Finn's confidence often takes a knock: by the end of the period a well struck blue-liner from Filip Novak had whistled over the goalie's shoulder to make it 3-1 and give only the second powerplay goal of the entire series.
At the start of the second Avangard had several great chances to reduce the arrears, but found Alexander Yeryomenko in inspired form. The goalie was at his best on 25:30 when he faced down Alexander Perezhogin in a one-on-one and recovered to block follow-up efforts from Nikita Pivtsakin and Roman Cervenka. As the pressure mounted, however, a solo breakaway set Marek Kvapil down the left and the Czech forward slalomed his way across the ice and around the net before his shot bounced off Georgijs Pujacs and Karri Ramo on its way into the net to make it 4-1.
But Avangard refused to give up, and after killing a 2+2 penalty against Kirill Lyamin the visitors took control of the final session. With Dynamo locked down in their own zone, Yeryomenko was regularly tested amid a barrage of shots on his goal. Skoula got his second of the game, an irresistible one-timer from Lyamin's pass on 51:53, to heighten the tension in the closing stages. However, the Czech ended up on his knees on 58:10 when his error on the blue line gifted the puck to Kvapil, who instantly fired into the net which Ramo had vacated just seconds before.
With two wins in succession Dynamo head coach Oleg Znarok has set himself up for a game seven Gagarin Cup decider for the second time. Two years ago it was his MVD side which was overhauled after coming within a single game of glory: this year, with his side seemingly enjoying the greater momentum, can Raimo Summanen find a way to keep the cup in the East?