(Ak Bars leads the series 2-0)
Justin Azevedo’s goal five minutes from time earned Ak Bars a 2-0 lead to take on the long trip to Khabarovsk – but the Eastern Conference top seed did not have everything its own way in this one.
Azevedo’s winner had shades of Lev Prague: Jiri Sekac fired in the shot, and Azevedo arrived from nowhere to apply the crucial touch that put the puck – and the game – beyond the reach of Juha Metsola and Amur. That pair had been part of Lev’s glory run to the Gagarin Cup final in 2014, and it’s not hard to imagine Ak Bars emulating that performance this season.
Earlier, though, Amur had grabbed a first-period lead in this game. Kirill Rasskazov applied the close-range finish after Jan Kolar’s point shot late in the opening frame. Ak Bars tied it up seconds into the middle session when Azevedo delivered a perfect feed for Anton Lander to shoot home, and Stanislav Galiyev made it 2-1 midway through the game with a goal reminiscent of Rasskazov’s opener.
Even then, Amur refused to go quietly. Tomas Zohorna raced in from the blue line to tie it up again, Metsola denied Vladimir Tkachyov’s penalty shot. Ak Bars was in control of the shot count, but had a hard time settling the outcome until Azevedo’s late goal secured a comfortable cushion to take to the Far East.