Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-1)

(Series tied at 2-2)

Francis Pare, once deemed surplus to requirements in Magnitogorsk, came back to haunt his former club with a game-winning goal that hauled Avtomobilist level in this series.

Photo: 08.03.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Playoffs. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

The Canadian forward began his KHL career at Metallurg under Mike Keenan, helping the team to win the 2014 Gagarin Cup. But the following season saw him traded to Traktor, and since then he’s had stints at Slovan and Medvescak before joining Avto last summer. Today, though, as the game entered the last five minutes, he delivered an abrupt reminder of his talents to everyone in Magnitogorsk, helping his team snatch a vital victory in an intriguing series.

There seemed to be little on as Avto shot the puck into the corner, but the Magnitka defense switched off and allowed Pare to advance to the slot without much effort to halt his progress. Anatoly Golyshev delivered the pass from behind the net, and Pare’s finish squeezed inside the post to win the game and send the teams back to Yekaterinburg with the series locked at 2-2.

Once again, the teams served up a tight contest, with little to choose between them on the balance of the play. Avtomobilist made the initial breakthrough late in the first period, following a spell of steadily increasing pressure on Vasily Koshechkin’s net as Metallurg killed a double minor penalty. Alexander Torchenyuk was the scorer, taking the puck from his own end to Magnitka’s before firing home as Grigory Dronov backed off his run.

Metallurg tied the game up in the second period with a goal straight from the coach’s playbook. Oskar Osala won the face-off, Dronov pushed the puck back to the blue line, and Chris Lee fired home from long range. A simple tactic, but an effective one, something we’ve seen often enough from this team in recent seasons. The home team continued to press, looking to take a grip on proceedings, but Dronov fired wide, Wojtek Wolski drew a glove save from Jakub Kovar and a penalty on Denis Denisov slowed the home momentum.

Andy Potts,
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