Eight straight for Avtomobilist, another drubbing for Traktor. September 1919 September 2018, 22:45
(1) Avangard Omsk 1 OT
(8) Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0
Series tied 1-1
Game 2 in Omsk was also settled in overtime, only this time it was the hosts who celebrated.
“Yegor Averin fired the puck goalwards, it hit my stick and flew into the net,” said the scorer of the golden goal, Dmitry Semin. “Our tactical plan was to get the puck behind the backs of the Nizhnekamsk defensemen, so as not to lose possession so often in the neutral zone, where Neftekhimik’s movement is especially good. We’ll see the video, root out the problems, and I think in the next game we’ll score more.
Vladimir Krikunov was not too disheartened by the defeat: “What influenced the result was those 6 minutes of being outnumbered in the third period. We survived every attack, but they sent in a lot of shots, and we probably lost our way a little. But on the whole I’m satisfied with our play.
(2) Ak Bars Kazan 3
(7) Barys Astana 0
Ak Bars lead the series 2-0
Game 2 in Kazan also resembled the first, with another shutout win for the champions. Visiting forward Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev was a little downhearted at the way the series has developed: “This Ak Bars team is just a curse for us. Everything looked good for us: no injuries, we came to the play-offs in great form, and yet our results so far are negative. We had a big inquest into yesterday’s defeat and decided we’d play it tougher. But our plans were ruined by that early counter-attack when Morozov broke away with Zaripov and scored.”
Barys coach Andrei Khomutov saw it the same way: “We were all set to play faster and tougher hockey in the game’s opening minutes. In principle, we did just that, but in the second period we started to seriously lose our composure, and we found ourselves playing 3-on-5 for several minutes. That’s when we allowed the second goal, and that broke us. What’s more, our hosts chased us down into the corners, and most of the time we couldn’t get out and find space in which to play.”
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov remarked that regarding the two home games it was ‘job done’ but also conceded that despite scoring two goals in power play, there are still questions about his team’s ability to turn numerical advantage into goals.
(3) Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3
(6) Sibir Novosibirsk 1
Salavat Yulaev lead the series 2-0
Ak Bars’s deadly rivals, Salavat Yulaev, also lead their series 2-0, although their second victory was not nearly as impressive as the first. The men from Ufa even had to claw their way back into the game after allowing the opening goal.
“Sibir’s game today was even more aggressive than yesterday,” noted the hosts’ captain, Viktor Kozlov. “What’s more, their goaltender, Stefan Liv, gave an outstanding performance. Playing against them on the road will be much tougher, as the fans in Novosibirsk are something special; they give their team amazing support.”
The visitors’ head coach Andrei Tarasenko did not hide his disappointment: “For some reason, a lot of our players decided that a game is played for only forty minutes, and not sixty. For two periods everything was fine, they were carrying out my instructions, but for some reason they stopped in the third. Not every player, of course, but most of them. I’ll tell you that we’re all falling into the same trap. We’re playing really bad when short-handed. You have to go into a play-off game fully aware that any mistake could get the team knocked out.”
(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1
(5) Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2
Series tied 1-1
The visitors left Mikhail Biryukov on the bench and started with Edgar Masalskis between the pipes, and the gamble paid off - Edgar saved 37 shots out of 38, and his team leveled the series.
“We’d agreed earlier that we would rotate the goalies,” explained Yugra’s head coach Sergei Shepelev. “I think the fans enjoy this kind of hockey, in that they saw a tough battle on the ice for the entire game. Our players stuck together so well from the first minute to the last. We’re really satisfied to have managed a victory over such strong opponents, even more so beating them on their own ice.”
“The visitors were livelier today. We lost most of the individual duels. We have to work a lot more aggressively and put away the chances we create. All four of our lines can and must play better,” was how Metallurg’s head coach Kari Heikkila summed up the game.