Andy Potts,
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Ak Bars Kazan 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 OT (1-0, 1-2, 1-1, 0-1)

(Metallurg leads the series 1-0)

You wanted a battle? They brought a battle! Ak Bars and Metallurg rarely disappoint when the stakes are high, and the opening match-up in this Eastern Conference Semi-Final had everything for a neutral fan to enjoy. There were goals, drama and intrigue a-plenty as Magnitka rallied from 0-2, forced overtime and won it on Wojtek Wolski’s second goal of the night.

Photo: 16.03.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Playoffs. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

The winning goal, after eight minutes of the extras, came as Wolski and Sergei Mozyakin led a counter-attack after an Ak Bars attack broke down just inside the Magnitka zone. The home defense, sensibly enough, ushered Mozyakin away from the danger zone but was unable to respond when he brought the puck out of the corner and fed Wolski, largely unmolested, in front of the net. The Canadian’s finish did the rest, and Metallurg took a big psychological step at the start of the series.

It was a fine ending to an absorbing game, but Ak Bars fans cannot fail to be disappointed. The game began so promisingly for them, with the Kazan team determined to avenge its playoff failure against the same opposition last year. Jiri Sekac opened the scoring late in the first period, Stanislav Galiyev made it 2-0 early in the second. But Metallurg was level 10 minutes later. Matt Ellison reduced the deficit, then Wolski tied it up with his first of the evening. Sergei Tereshchenko’s shot was kicked out by Emil Garipov in the home net, but the goalie was hopelessly out of position as Wolski slotted home the rebound.

Ak Bars responded by regaining the lead early in the third period. Atte Ohtamaa was the scorer, taking his time to get Evgeny Timkin off balance before firing in a wrist shot that Vasily Koshechkin couldn’t reach. Timkin, though, got his revenge with the 3-3 goal, arriving at the back door to apply the finish to a dish from Oskar Osala. That sent the action into overtime, and gave Wolski the chance to win it for Metallurg.

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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