Andy Potts,
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Ak Bars Kazan 2 Amur Khabarovsk 1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

(Ak Bars wins the series 4-1)

A Rob Klinkhammer goal seven minutes from the hooter saw Ak Bars safely into the Eastern Conference semi-finals after seeing off Amur.

The Kazan team, old hands at negotiating playoff series, managed to find that bit extra to wear down a resolute Amur team that offered solid defense but lacked the creative spark needed to edge a run of tight games. That kind of creativity was precisely what separated the teams after just 20 seconds of this game: Ak Bars gained possession on its own blue line, and its first line of Jiri Sekac, Justin Azevedo and Anton Lander fizzed a scintillating string of passes to take the puck up to the other end for Lander to open the scoring.

Photo: 10.03.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Playoffs. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Amur (Khabarovsk)

Behind the eight ball from the off, Amur’s cause was hardly helped by a couple of minor penalties. However, the visitor remained strong on the PK and having emerged from that spell of trouble, Amur managed to tie the game. Pavel Dedunov was the star man, powering past Atte Ohtamaa and scoring on the rebound from his own backhand shot.

The middle frame was fast-paced – sometimes frantic – but did not produce many clear opportunities at either end. But in the final session, the home team began to take control of matters and forged ahead at last in the 54th minute. Klinkhammer claimed the goal, firing home from close range with Juha Metsola out of position, but it was captain Alexander Svitov who created it. He began the play in centre ice, then moved into position to collect Nikita Lyamkin’s pass from behind the net. It looked like a perfect set-up for Svitov to shoot, but instead he showed great presence of mind to slip the puck across the front of Metsola’s net for Klinkhammer to finish off the game – and the series – with a simple tap-in.

Ak Bars moves on to the next round, but its opponent is yet to be decided.

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
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