Barys leads the series 3-1
Eddie Pasquale made 39 saves to record his second shut-out of this series and take Barys to within one victory of progressing to the Conference Semi-finals. The Canadian goalie was in fine form to silence Magnitka’s offense, while at the other end goals from Anton Sagadeyev and Dustin Boyd secured the win for the Kazakh team. The action continues in Nur-Sultan on Monday with Barys able to wrap up the series in front of its own fans.
The home team, defeated in overtime two days ago, was out to get itself back into this series. Head coach Ilya Vorobyov kept faith with the team from that game, making no changes to his roster in recognition of the fact that his players had done little wrong in a hard-fought loss. Barys made one change, bringing in Pavel Akolzin to replace Kirill Panyukov.
With an almost identical cast on the ice, the action in the first period closely resembled what we had seen in game three. Both teams played cautiously, focussing on defense; both goalies were on top of their game. Metallurg seemed a little livelier, but fell behind in the final seconds of the period. Atte Ohtamaa looked for a shot from the blue line and when that didn’t work out he fired the puck to the back door where Sagadeyev was on hand to steer it home.
The home team had a further problem to contend with when Czech forward Tomas Filippi picked up an injury. He was limited to just seven shifts in the first period and spent the rest of the game looking on from the sidelines. But that didn’t stop Metallurg enjoying the better of the final frame, with Pasquale frequently stepping up to preserve his team’s slender advantage. Barys was limited to counterattacks, the most promising of which saw Thursday’s game winner Linus Videll go close after an odd-man rush with Iiro Pakarinen.
Barys also came close at the start of the third, catching Metallurg on the change and sending Nikita Mikhailis through for a one-on-one with Vasily Koshechkin. The home goalie won that duel to keep his team in contention but, as in the middle stanza, Magnitka struggled to test Pasquale. Even on the power play, the host could not break through. In the end, Boyd’s goal with four minutes to play gave Barys a comfortable conclusion to the game. Now, Andrei Skabelka’s team will hope for a comfortable conclusion to the series when it returns home on Monday.
Series tied at 2-2
This series is shaping up to go the distance. If Avangard looked to be wavering after back-to-back losses, this game provided an emphatic riposte. Bob Hartley restructured his lines for this game and brought Denis Zernov into the team in place of Evgeny Grachyov, while Salavat Yulaev made one enforced change as Eduard Gimatov replaced the injured Vyacheslav Solodukhin.
Ufa’s feel-good factor after Thursday’s win saw the home team make a fast start and Dmitry Kugryshev almost opened the scoring in the game’s second shift when his shot was deflected onto Igor Bobkov’s post. After that, though, Avangard took control. First, Zernov dinged the crossbar in an immediate reply, then Alexei Emelin sent Alexei Potapov clean through on Juha Metsola to open the scoring after three minutes. It wasn’t long before Kirill Semyonov extended that lead and the experienced Avangard forward also drew the penalty that led to a Cody Franson power play goal late in the opening frame.
The home team began the second period at a high tempo, desperate to find a way back into the game. However, Bobkov scented his 100th KHL victory and was equal to everything that was thrown his way. Meanwhile, the hits got harder and the action more intense with each passing shift and Ufa’s first power play of the game saw Bobkov saved by the post again after a Philip Larsen shot. Midway through the session, Emelin converted a Sven Andrighetto feed to make it 4-0 and chase Metsola from the home net. Semyonov added a fifth late in the frame – his scoring streak now spans five games – and the game was as good as done at the second intermission.
Salavat Yulaev was determined to get at least a consolation goal in the third and Teemu Hartikainen delivered that in the 46th minute. But there was never much prospect of a comeback and Avangard heads back home with the series tied but the momentum, perhaps, tipping in its favor ahead of game five in Balashikha on Monday.