Metallurg emerged victorious in Game 2 of the Gagarin Cup final on Monday, posting a 3-1 win to level the series. Jan Kovar, Vladislav Kaletnik and Tommi Santala got the goals for the hosts, while a strike from Vadim Shipachyov gave temporary hope to the Petersburg men.
Things could have been very different if SKA forward Alexander Barabanov had succeeded in recreating Mikael Granlund’s (in)famous goal against Team Russia, when the Finn balanced the puck on his stick blade, sailed out from behind the goal, and shoveled the puck high into the net. Barabanov made his valiant attempt midway through the second period and it almost came off, but of course, “almost” does not trouble the scoreboard.
In the end, Kaletnik’s 38th-minute strike - only the second short-handed goal to be scored in Gagarin Cup finals – settled the contest, and with the series now tantalizingly tied at 1-1, the teams travel onward to Saint Petersburg for Game 3 on Wednesday.
Before SKA and Metallurg began their preparations for tomorrow’s resumption of hostilities, staff from both camps shared their views on Monday night’s contest.
HC Metallurg Vice-President Gennady Velichkin:
- What happened to your team today in the early stages of the match? SKA had five times as many shots as Metallurg?
“Our understanding is that it’s not the number of shots, but the accuracy of the shooting that counts. Quality, not quantity.”
- After that performance, is it fair to say your goalie, Koshechkin, is some kind of god?
“No, but he is a great goaltender.”
- Do you agree that your short-handed goal late in the second period was the turning point?
“To some extent, yes. We had practiced this goal. The team worked on it in training yesterday.”
- How did you practice? You specifically trained to score with a man short?
“It’s very simple, and it’s how everyone trains. We practice playing the game at uneven strength, and that includes playing short-handed.”
- How does this season’s final compare with the one last season? A year ago, nearly everyone was betting on CSKA…
“It’s very difficult to answer that because it’s hard to find parallels and compare. A final is a final. Everyone is geared up for each match and anything can happen.”
When it’s a final, the players won’t pay much attention to whether the fans are shouting for or against them, so the roar from the stands in Petersburg will help us as much as the hosts. We have been through a lot together and have a wealth of experience in the playoffs. The louder the roar, the better for us.
- Did you go into the Metallurg locker room after that first period?
“That’s not my habit. I doubt I’ve even been in a locker room for going on 14 years or so, because we employ coaches and we should not distract them during the game. We played our own game, we absorbed the pressure, we patiently waited for the opponents to make mistakes, and that is what happened.”
- Is the current series score, 1-1, a fair reflection?
“Yes. The teams are very evenly matched, and the score is a fair one.”
- How do see the next two games in Petersburg going? Will the home fans make it hard for you?
“I don’t think there is much of a difference. When it’s a final, the players won’t pay much attention to whether the fans are shouting for or against them, so the roar from the stands in Petersburg will help us as much as the hosts. We have been through a lot together and have a wealth of experience in the playoffs. The louder the roar, the better for us. The worst thing is to play in a silent stadium, so we call on all the SKA fans to cheer on their team.”
- Did you know that in every Gagarin Cup final to date, the team that won Game 2 has gone on to win the trophy?
“No, I didn't know that, and I wouldn’t give it too much thought. We have a lot of work to do and hockey to play, and now the series moves to Saint Petersburg.”
Metallurg Magnitogorsk forward Vladislav Kaletnik:
“We were on the back foot a lot, both while short-handed and at even strength, but we defended well and stayed very patient. Our goalie came to the rescue many times today, to his credit, and our fans gave us great support. They were like a sixth skater. In the first period, we were outgunned - the opposition made a flying start and pushed us back into defense. When we got back in the locker room we had a talk, the coaches set us our tasks, and from then on we stuck to our game plan and the result went our way.” (credit: Championat.ru)
SKA forward Alexander Barabanov:
“I'd always wanted to “do a Granlund,” but it did not come off tonight. It made sense to try it since I was free behind the goal, and I’ve done it a couple of times in training. Being 1-1 in the series is not a bad score after the first two games on the road. We could have won today had we kept the goaltender unsighted as we did in Game 1, but now it will be a little easier for us in front of our own fans.” (credit: Championat.ru)
Metallurg Magnitogorsk forward Tommi Santala:
“It’s great to score goals, but it doesn’t really matter who scores or how we score. It is the victory that matters, and we are just glad that we got the win. We were not really prepared for that onslaught in the first period, but we managed to keep the scores level and helped us a lot. Our mission is simply to find a way to win. We made some adjustments to our short-handed game and I think this work played its part.
Yes, we allowed a goal when we were a man down, but in the end, we won the match with a short-handed goal.” (credit: Championat.ru)