(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2
(1) Avangard Omsk 1
Series tied 3-3
In spite of the tiredness following two epic games, both teams hurled themselves into attack from the very first second, and this, along with the inevitable lapses of concentration in defense, led to an abundance of penalties. However, neither side seemed able to turn a numerical advantage into goals.
Into the second period and, as has become a habit in this series, the teams took part in a swift exchange of goals. First Denis Khlystov from a tight angle fired the puck between Karri Ramo’s pads, and two minutes later we had a power play goal at last, when Jaromir Jagr’s effort beat Georgy Gelashvili at the near corner.
There were to be no more goaltending mishaps, and the game looked to be charging at breakneck speed toward yet another overtime. But just 57 seconds before the siren sounded Metallurg grabbed the spoils. Sergei Fedorov won a face-off in enemy territory and sent the puck along the blue line to Vitaly Atyushov, and it was Stanislav Chistov who got his stick to the Magnitogorsk captain’s shot to send the puck flying into the net just under the crossbar.
“Every face-off is vital,” Fedorov explained. “When you win, you get the initiative, when you lose, you don’t. The face-off has become one of the most important aspects of the game, especially on the bigger rinks.”
Raimo Summanen immediately called a time out and pulled the goalie, but while the gamble led to some dangerous moments in front of Gelashvili’s goal, the Omsk men could manage no more. Metallurg celebrated victory, and now the series moves back to Omsk.
Despite the defeat, Avangard boss Raimo Summanen was still talkative: “It turned out to be a really interesting game, although the previous games in the series were no less captivating. It is always unpleasant when you lose. In this series we have a contest between two very good teams, and that’s why it’s turned out so close. Today the outcome was decided by the minor details, such as face-offs and penalties. Both teams are tired, but are trying with all their might.”
While Kari Heikkila was in uncharacteristically laconic mood: “Right now I’ve nothing to add. My opposite number said it all.”
Anton Chaika, Magnitogorsk