East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
(Traktor leads the series 1-0)
Vitaly Kravtsov break-out post season continues. The 18-year-old Traktor forward got his fifth goal of the playoffs – and his third game-winner – to see his team make a positive start to its Eastern Conference Semi-Final clash with Salavat Yulaev.
Once again, the Kravtsov-Kruchinin axis proved crucial: Alexei Kruchinin provided the feed, but there was still plenty for Kravtsov to do as he swivelled into position and fired in a wrister from the left-hand face-off spot. Ben Scrivens in the Salavat Yulaev goal was distracted by the attentions of Alexander Sharov and could not make the save. The previous round also began with a game-winner from Kravtsov to set Traktor on the road to success over Neftekhimik; could recent history be poised to repeat itself here?
Kravtsov’s goal came on a power play early in the second period and doubled Traktor’s advantage after Artyom Penkovsky opened the scoring in the fifth minute. This time, Yury Petrov was the architect, surging into Salavat territory and going around the back of the net before popping up a feed for Penkovsky to slot home from close range.
However, Salavat Yulaev rallied strongly after the Kravtsov goal. From that point on, most of the action was in front of Pavel Francouz’s net and the Czech international was at his best to preserve his team’s lead. He finished with 38 saves, beaten just once when Linus Omark and Ilya Zubov started pinging passes around the Traktor zone. The play ended with Omark holding the puck behind the net as Zubov raced into space on the short side; a well-placed pass set up the former Avangard forward for his third goal of the playoffs.
It wasn’t enough for the home team. Salavat Yulaev continued to press but found no further way past Francouz. Traktor claims the first victory of the series and can celebrate a vital road win at the start of the campaign.