Andy Potts,
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Danis Zaripov hits a treble for the third time in this year’s playoffs as Metallurg goes 3-0 up in its series against Barys. In Monday’s other game, Ak Bars fails to take control of its series, giving up a 3-1 lead to lose at home to Avangard in overtime.

Magnitka prevails in game of two trebles

Barys Astana 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5

(Metallurg leads the series 3-0)

Danis Zaripov rocketed out in front on the post-season scoring charts with yet another hat-trick to help the defending champion maintain its winning streak as this Eastern Conference Semi-final series moved to Astana.

Zaripov, who potted a treble in game five of Magnitka’s series against Kunlun Red Star before repeating the trick in Saturday’s overtime victory over Barys took his post-season tally to 11 goals and six assists, putting him out in front in this year’s playoff scoring race. His success also brought up the 50th post-season goal of his career.

But it took Magnitka time to take control of this game. The home team, inspired by familiar surroundings, made a lively start and had the better of the opening stanza. However, it failed to turn that edge into goals, inviting Metallurg to take back control as the encounter developed.

That man Zaripov made the difference. His two goals in the second period – the first on the wraparound after Alexei Bereglazov’s shot, the second on the power play with a delicate finish off a Jan Kovar feed – turned the game decisively in the visitor’s favor. Barys was still creating chances, but Metallurg was converting them.

The third period began with a lifeline for the host: Tomas Filippi’s penalty late in the second enabled Barys to start on the power play, and Dustin Boyd halved the deficit to give the home team hope. But that optimism was ruthlessly dampened. Two more power play chances for Magnitka and two more goals, with Zaripov’s line-mates Sergei Mozyakin and Jan Kovar extending the lead to 4-1. Mozyakin also completed another achievement in his impressive season, picking up his 389th KHL assist to overtake Alexander Radulov’s record.

Zaripov completed his treble in the 56th minute, but that was not the end of the goalscoring feats. Boyd matched the Metallurg man’s achievement, grabbing further strikes in the last two minutes. A hat-trick apiece, but victory for Zaripov & Co.

Metallurg is now one game away from progressing to the Conference Final yet again; Barys, which has never progressed beyond this stage, needs to launch a comeback for the ages if it is to change that record.

13.03.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Playoffs. Barys (Astana) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Avangard fights back – in game and series

Ak Bars Kazan 3 Avangard Omsk 4 (OT)

(Ak Bars leads the series 2-1)

Avangard seems intent on doing things the hard way in this series, flirting with allowing Ak Bars a 3-0 lead before rallying to get off the mark with an overtime victory.

David Booth got the decisive goal nine minutes into the extras. The D-man started the move by keeping the puck alive at the point, and finished it by tucking away Evgeny Medvedev’s pass to the slot after the Avangard captain had deceived the home defense by feinting to shoot. For a team that looked to be heading to a third successive defeat at the first intermission, the goal transformed the whole complexion of the series.

For Medvedev, it was the third assist of the night. The defenseman also had a hand in Valentin Pyanov’s 58th-minute game-tying goal. After Avangard spent much of the final stanza trying desperately to tie the game, a power play late on gave it one last chance. Medvedev found Ilya Zubov in a dangerous position, the forward looked to a swing a pass out across the ice but saw the puck get caught up in Pyanov’s skates and, amid the confusion, the 25-year-old fired in a shot to claim his first playoff goal of the year … and a timely one.

Earlier, it was a very different story. Ak Bars, buoyed by two road wins in Omsk, took little time to settle into the comforts of home, rattling two goals in the first six minutes of this game. The game was just 95 seconds old when Fyodor Lukoyanov put the home team ahead, wrapping up a careful build-up off assists from Rafael Batyrshin and Fyodor Malykhin. A few minutes later Ak Bars had a power play – David Booth was called for kneeing – and Andrei Popov converted the opportunity as his stick got to Albert Yarullin’s shot from the blue line.

But Avangard hit back quickly with Zubov’s first goal of the night, finishing off a beautiful passing move with Ilya Mikheyev and Jonas Ahnelov to halve the deficit and establish a vital bridgehead in the game. At first, though, it seemed that the home team would move on serenely especially after Popov conjured up another wonderful play to set up Anton Glinkin for a third goal before the first intermission.

At this stage, it seemed that Ak Bars was well on its way to taking a 3-0 series lead – but Avangard began its revival. Zubov got his second of the night on a power play, wrapping up another neat passing move to halve the deficit. Then Zubov helped out on Pyanov’s equalizer, and suddenly the game – and perhaps the series – was transformed.

13.03.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Playoffs. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Avangard (Omsk region)

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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