(1) Avangard Omsk 1
(8) Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 4
Neftekhimik lead the series 3-2
The winners of the regular championship once again failed to make home advantage count and now face the unthinkable prospect of being out of the Gagarin Cup, all the more so considering the next game will be in Nizhnekamsk. And the Omsk men have a history of under-performing in the first stage of the play-offs.
“We played great with the man advantage,” was Neftekhimik goaltender Ivan Kasutin’s view. “We managed to score and our opponents didn’t, and that was the key factor.”
“Before the game I reminded the players that the series starts again from scratch and we have the same chance of going through as do our opponents,” said Nizhnekamsk head coach Vladimir Krikunov. “The guys did what I asked of them and kept their discipline.”
The Avangard players chose not to speak to the press, leaving head coach Raimo Summanen to take the rap for them, and after their performance had just spoiled his birthday. “Several of our defenders have problems with their play, and I’ll change that line,” he promised. “In the next game we’ll have to be like wild beasts, and not like the docile animals on show at the circus.”
(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 OT
(5) Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk 3
Metallurg lead the series 3-2
As early as the first period it already seemed that it was not going to be the visitors’ day. They allowed two quick goals, after which Sergei Shepelev sent on Edgar Masalskis to replace Mikhail Biryukov between the pipes. However, the Latvian goalie did not keep his goal intact for long. And then, with a three-goal cushion, the hosts unexpectedly lost their grip on the game and Yugra stormed back to level the scores before the end of the second period.
All the same, Metallurg coach Kari Heikkila praised his team: “This was a good team victory,” he said. “We had a great start to the game, but by the third period we were already in a tough fight.”
“A crazy mistake let us down in overtime,” said the distraught Yugra coach Sergei Shepelev. “Really stupid mistake when you consider the guys had shown such character to get back level. As for Biryukov, I’ve no intention of blaming him for anything. Yes, he didn’t have the best game, but all the same he’s still a sound goaltender.”