(Series tied at 1-1)
An overtime goal from Darren Dietz saw Barys tie up its first-round playoff series against Metallurg before the action moves to Kazakhstan on Saturday. The visitor’s captain struck in the first minute of the extras, snapping a 1-1 tie and cancelling out Magnitka’s opening-day victory.
That game finished 7-4 — by far and away the highest scoring game of post-season — as both starting goalies struggled. Unsurprisingly, then, both teams made changes. For Metallurg, it was a straightforward choice: after Vasily Koshechkin allowed three goals in the first period, Juho Olkinuora came into the game and calmed everything down, making him a natural starter today. Barys also started with a Finnish goalie, even though Joni Ortio conceded from the first shot he faced after replacing Henrik Karlsson on Tuesday. Ortio, though, is returning from injury and his misfortune might be attributed to a lack of game time. In front of him, Jesse Blacker was added to the defense while young Samat Daniyar was replaced by Yegor Shalapov as Yury Mikhailis looked to staunch the flow of goals into his team’s net. The home team, meanwhile, had to play without Yegor Yakovlev, who scored twice in the series starter.
Changed personnel did not bring about a significant change in the pattern of play. As on Tuesday, Metallurg started the game on top and for 10 minutes the puck barely left the Barys zone. However, there was little goal threat: it wasn’t that the Steelmen were creating chances and failing to take them, more that Ortio was rarely tested. Then, later in the first period, the visitor got in front as Kirill Panyukov scored his second goal of post season.
The middle frame saw Metallurg hit back, albeit less effectively than the four-goal blitz it produced in game one. This time, the ageless Sergei Mozyakin was the architect as Andrej Nestrasil potted a power play goal. However, after the brakes briefly came off in that high-scoring first game, both teams were back to their more familiar, cautious style of play. By the start of the third period, there was already a feeling of overtime about proceedings as nobody wanted to make a mistake that might easily prove decisive. And, with both defenses refreshed on the rest day, errors were hard to come by.
However, once overtime got started, Barys quickly found a winning goal. Dietz was the scoring, firing home from the blue line. The play survived a coach’s challenge, with the home bench believing there may have been an offside early in the move, and the Kazakhs head for home with a valuable road win.
(Avangard leads the series 2-0)
Avtomobilist had two goals disallowed in a hard-fought battle in Balashikha — and Avangard took advantage to record its second victory of the series on a nerve-jangling evening.
This was a topsy-turvy battle, with the lead frequently changing hands. The tone was set midway through the first period, with two goals in a minute. The first went to the visitor, with the Motormen setting up camp in the Avangard zone before Vyacheslav Litovchenko opened the scoring. But the response was immediate: the Hawks flew down the ice and Pavel Dedunov tied the game just 11 seconds later when he converted Damir Sharipzyanov’s feed to the slot.
Next came the first of those disallowed goals. Peter Holland believed he had tied the scores after Dmitry Zhukenov won his battle on the boards and passed into the center. Holland took the pass and shot home, but Bob Hartley’s bench spotted an offside and the coach’s challenge saw the goal whistled off after a review.
That blow seemed to galvanize the visitor. A minute later, Avto grabbed a legitimate goal. Nikita Tryamkin moved down the left-hand channel and fired in a shot. Igor Bobkov struggled to block that effort and the puck dropped for Pavel Kulikov to smash home a one-timer and tie the scores. Then a penalty on Chudinov set up a power play chance and once the Motormen set up the play, Georgy Belousov converted the rebound from Alexei Makeyev’s effort.
The lead was deserved: by the second intermission Avtomobilist had taken control of the game and was pushing Avangard back. But the start of the third saw the home team get back into contention. An early penalty on Makeyev opened up opportunities for the Hawks and Denis Zernov had a good chance to tie the scores. Jakub Kovar stopped that one, but almost immediately there was another home power play and this time Sergei Tolchinsky took advantage to record his second goal of post season.
And, for the third time in the game, one goal quickly led to another, with Ilya Kovalchuk restoring Avangard’s lead in the 47th minute. Kovi, brought to Avangard for precisely this kind of big-game contribution, took his chance when Zernov found him wide open in the center of the offensive zone and it proved to be the winner.
However, there was still a scare to come for Avangard. A bad error from Bobkov gave Avtomobilist its chance, Anatoly Golyshev retrieved the puck and fired home from beyond the icing line. However, after a long video review, the officials again spotted an offside and the Motormen stalled once again.
That was enough to secure the win for Avangard, which now takes a convincing lead to Yekaterinburg for games three and four.