Andy Potts,
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Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 OT (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 1-0)

(Series tied at 1-1)

Vitaly Kravtsov got his sixth goal of the playoffs, equalling Valery Nichushkin’s record for an 18-year-old in post-season play. But this time, the youngster could not bring his team another victory. Instead, Salavat Yulaev tied up the series with an overtime winner before the action heads to Chelyabinsk on Tuesday.

Photo: 17.03.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Playoffs. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Instead it was Igor Makarov who delivered the decisive blow, getting the winning goal in the 74th minute. Salavat Yulaev had enjoyed the better of the extras, and Makarov took his chance after Pavel Francouz blocked his first shot. The home forward recovered the puck and waited for his moment to strike; once the goalie committed himself ahead of a second shot, Makarov was ready to slot the puck into an empty net and settle the game.

Earlier, the story was all about Kravtsov, the latest talent to emerge from the Chelyabinsk production line. His strike in Saturday’s game even had echoes of Nichushkin’s explosive arrival on the scene in the 2013 playoffs, with a breathtaking piece of individual skill to take Vladimir Tkachyov out of the game before advancing on Ben Scrivens’ net and slotting the puck between the goalie’s pads. Kravtsov’s emergence has the potential to blow the Eastern playoffs wide-open, just as Nichushkin did five years ago. The 18-year-old has six goals from seven games so far, and has found the net in his last three appearances. This one put Traktor up 2-1 early in the third period and – for a time – looked like it might deliver another victory to the visitor.

However, he was denied a second successive game-winning goal by Alexander Loginov. As Salavat Yulaev pushed for a tying strike, Loginov took matters into his own hands. He collected the puck in his own zone, advanced up the ice and, from just inside the blue line, unleashed a shot right into the top corner with Francouz powerless to stop it.

Salavat Yulaev had made a perfect start to the game, opening the scoring on its first attack. Joonas Kemppainen put the puck in the net after good work from Linus Omark to make it 1-0 with just 18 seconds played. But Traktor hit back midway through the second period when Richard Gynge led an odd-man rush and Paul Szczechura finished the play.

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