(Series tied at 1-1)
Danis Zaripov returned to the Ak Bars line-up for the second game in this series, with the home team hoping he could play a similarly decisive role against his former club as the game-winning performances he produced last season to help Metallurg sweep past the Kazan team. Zaripov duly repaid that faith with his first goal of this season’s playoffs as Ak Bars produced a convincing riposte to its overtime loss on Friday.
However, it was another former Metallurg man, defenseman Yaroslav Kosov, who set Ak Bars on the way to a comfortable series-tying victory. Kosov got the opening goal in the 13th minute, firing home a slap shot from from the top of the left-hand circle after Rob Klinkhammer led a counter-attack from deep in Ak Bars territory.
That was the only scoring of an even first period, but the middle frame saw the home team take complete control on its way to tying this series. Justin Azevedo set the tone, sweeping home a second goal moments after the restart after Jiri Sekac tested Vasily Koshechkin and wrong-footed the defense with a pass from the rebound. Magnitka responded midway through the frame when Chris Lee forced home the loose puck after Andrei Chibisov’s point shot provoked a tussle on the slot between Matt Ellison and Atte Ohtamaa, but then came Zaripov’s big moment. Stanislav Galiyev’s East-West feed found Vasily Tokranov at the back door, Koshechkin stopped his shot, but Zaripov was on hand to tuck away the rebound. Then the veteran forward got an assist in the last minute of the second period, robbing Sergei Tereshchenko and going around the back before setting up Galiyev for the 4-1 goal.
With the outcome of the game looking fairly clear, Ak Bars spent much of the final frame concentrating on keeping Metallurg at arm’s length. Allowing just nine more shots on Galimov’s net – most of them in a desperate late flurry – the home team was able to see out a comfortable victory and bring the series level before the teams move to Magnitogorsk for game three on Tuesday.