EAST CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
(5) Ak Bars Kazan 8
(4) Salavat Yulaev Ufa 0
Series tied at 3-3
The Ak Bars revival continued in emphatic fashion as three goals from Vladimir Tkachyov and two more from Artyom Lukoyanov paced the Tatar team to a resounding victory over Salavat Yulaev.
Having trailed 1-3 at the start of the week, Ak Bars not only levelled the series but inflicted a potentially damaging psychological blow on its rival with such a comprehensive triumph. From being one game away from progressing, Salavat now faces a do-or-die showdown in a series where the momentum feels like it has shifted over the last two games.
A second-period blow-out made all the difference here as Ak Bars rattled in four unanswered goals to take total control of the game. More worryingly for the visitor, it came off just 10 shots on goal: a combination of clinical finishing and questionable goal-tending that needs to be urgently addressed before Saturday’s decider.
Tkachyov got things rolling. He opened the scoring in the first period, deflecting Nikolai Belov’s shot past Niklas Svedberg in the 16th minute. Then he produced his best goal of the night in the 25th minute, bursting in from the left channel, outwitting his marker and putting a well-placed wrist shot beyond the Swede.
Seconds later Lukoyanov got in on the act, holding off a defenseman to score with a one-timer off an Albert Yarullin feed. Lukoyanov quickly made it 4-0, completing a devastating burst of three goals in 69 seconds to take the game away from Salavat Yulaev and see Svedberg chased to the bench in favor of Vladimir Sokhatsky.
The visitor’s evening didn’t improve significantly. Konstantin Makarov was ejected for spearing and that power play helped Ryan Wilson to add a fifth. And the final stanza saw the goal rush continue. Tkachyov completed his hat-trick and there were late contributions to the score sheet from Denis Golubev and Fyodor Malykhin.
The margin of victory outstripped the 7-0 thrashing SKA handed to Atlant in the first round in 2013 and Ak Bars’ 1-7 reverse at Sibir in 2014.