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It’s a Dynamo double! Gagarin Cup Final, Game 6


(3) Traktor Chelyabinsk 2
(3) Dynamo Moscow 3(1OT)
Dynamo wins the Gagarin Cup Final 4-2!

Alexei Tsvetkov wrote his name into the KHL history books with a dramatic overtime winner to keep the Gagarin Cup in Moscow. The teams had played just short of six minutes of the fourth period – and both had killed a penalty – when Tsvetkov struck from close range to beat Michael Garnett after the goalie sprawled across the crease to beat away a Denis Kokarev shot.

It was a hard blow for Traktor to swallow: the Chelyabinsk side had been inches away from squaring the series at 3-3 when Evgeny Kuznetsov emerged from the sin bin to lead a one-on-one breakaway, only to fire agonizingly wide of Alexander Yeryomenko’s goal. And the extent to which Dynamo had been pushed to the limits was confirmed by the goalkeeper’s MVP award for this season’s play-off, not to mention the three times Traktor was denied by the frame of his goal.

The home side had already pulled back from the brink of defeat in the third period. Traktor’s leading post-season point-scorer Petri Kontiola had to wait for his first goal in the final series – but his timing was perfect as he tied this game with 10 minutes to play, saving the Chelyabinsk side in regulation time and postponing Dynamo’s championship celebration. The Finn struck after a brilliant pass across two zones from Andrei Kostitsyn left the Dynamo defense in tatters; the forward found himself one-on-one with Yeryomenko and calmly lifted the puck over the goalie’s left pad to make it 2-2.

In the first period of a typically hard-fought encounter Traktor took the lead in the 15th minute. Maxim Yakutsenya got the goal, reacting first as Deron Quint’s shot was blocked and surprising Yeryomenko by getting a second attempt away even as he fell to the ice. The forward almost doubled that lead with the last play of the period, rattling the crossbar as Dynamo struggled to kill its second penalty of the game.

But if Russian fans like to observe that when playing at home even the walls help, nobody had told that to the goal frames at Arena Traktor. In the second period Yakutsenya and Quint hit the piping within seconds of each other – and Dynamo went on to take advantage of the reprieve, scoring twice in a three-minute burst to move within touching distance of the trophy. Sergei Soin tied it at 1-1 with a classic piece of poaching on the slot. Marek Kvapil’s pass from the red line found his team mate, and the shot squeezed through Michael Garnett’s pads. Kvapil then wasted a glorious opportunity, firing wide when all alone in front of goal, but seconds later Dmitry Pestunov put Dynamo ahead with his first post-season goal. Dominik Granak’s long-range shot looped up off Alexei Vasilchenko, deceiving Garnett and presenting Pestunov with a tap-in.

Kuznetsov missed a great chance to equalize before the second hooter but failed to beat Yeryomenko in a one-on-one, thenthe post denied Traktor yet again with Gennady Razin out of luck on this occasion. And in the third period, after Kontiola’s equalizer, either side might have won it: Kokarev sped away from Kostitsyn only to fire wide, then Vladimir Antipov was denied in the last seconds by Yeryomenko. Even in overtime it could have gone either way, with Traktor gaining a man advantage within the first minute and Jan Bulis forcing yet another smart save from Yeryomenko before Tsvetkov finally completed Dynamo’s second successive triumph.

See also

02.05.2014 Iron Mike: Still the same, but slightly softened

01.05.2014 Alexander Medvedev: Interest in the final was colossal

01.05.2014 Keenan’s victory dance

01.05.2014 Malkin’s message to the men of steel