(Metallurg leads the series 3-2)
After a tight series, Metallurg finally produced a relatively comfortable winning margin to move 3-2 ahead – but it took two goals in the closing minutes for last year’s runner-up to subdue Avtomobilist here.
The game was very much in the balance with Magnitka leading 2-1, but a penalty against Alexei Simakov in the 53rd minute gave Metallurg the chance to finish things off. That chance was taken by Oskar Osala, who got on the rebound after a wayward shot from Sergei Tereshchenko thudded off the boards and dropped kindly for the Finn to make it 3-1.
That forced Avtomobilist to gamble, and ultimately Metallurg cashed in with a fourth goal from Jan Kovar scored in an empty net 12 seconds from the hooter. It gave the final scoreline a comfortable look that did not entirely reflect the game.
Statistically there was little between the teams in the first two periods. The shot count, and the time spent on offense at each end of the ice were both broadly comparable. Even the early scoring saw the teams trade quick goals. Artyom Gareyev put Avto in front in the 10thminute, tipping home a Michal Cajkovsky effort from the blue line, but a minute later Alexei Bereglazov’s slap shot caught Jakub Kovar by surprise and tied the scores.
However, Avtomobilist ran into penalty trouble late in the opening session, and Magnitka capitalized on its second power play to grab a vital advantage. The goal came from a classic interchange as Metallurg pinged the puck around the zone looking for that weak spot. Finally, Sergei Mozyakin upped the tempo, Wojtek Wolski flicked the puck back to the centrally-placed Matt Ellison and the Canadian beat Kovar for the game-winner.
Now Metallurg has the chance to wrap up the series on home ice on Monday, while Avtomobilist faces a ‘win-or-bust’ showdown in Magnitogorsk.