(Salavat Yulaev wins the series 4-1)
Markus Granlund showed nerves of steel to wrap up the game and the series after visiting goalie Ivan Fedotov was cited for dislodging the net during a spell of intense pressure in the last minute of regulation.
Traktor began this series in Ufa in impressive style, winning the opening game 3-1 and silencing Salavat Yulaev’s dangerous Finnish forwards. Since then, though, everything went wrong for Anvar Gatiyatullin’s team. An overtime loss in game two was followed by two goalless games on home ice as Ufa moved to within one victory of progressing.
Recovering from here would be a huge challenge for a Traktor team that had looked a shadow of its regular season self. The Chelyabinsk power play misfired, and its imports — Bailen, Sedlak, Hyka and Pilut — struggled to attain the heights we saw before the start of March. In response, Gatiyatullin tweaked the line-up one last time — Vyacheslav Osnovin swapped places with Vitaly Kravtsov, Oleg Yevenko was paired with Nick Bailen in a hard-hitting defensive combination, and Alexander Avtsin arrived in place of Yaroslav Kosov. Salavat Yulaev, meanwhile, could happily continue with a winning team as it looked to wrap up the series.
Initially, everything went to plan for the host. Midway through the first period, Salavat Yulaev opened the scoring with a power play goal from Teemu Hartikainen. The Finn redirected Philip Larsen’s slap shot into Fedotov’s pads, but Alexander Kadeikin steered the rebound back for his strike partner to finish it off. And early in the second, another home power play saw Kadeikin at his best as Ufa went 2-0 up. A beautiful pass saw him slip the puck between his legs and across the face of goal for Sakari Manninen to score at the back door and open a 2-0 lead.
However, Traktor was already starting to take control of the play and the visitor went on to fire in 18 shots at Juha Metsola in the second period. One of them, from Igor Polygalov, found the target after a big deflection left the goalie wrong-footed. That put the visitor right back into the game and also ended Metsola’s shut-out streak. The Finnish goalie went 168:29 without allowing a goal, setting a new playoff record for his club.
With 20 minutes to save its season, Traktor continued to press in the third period and midway through the session, the visitor drew level. Denis Bodrov’s shot was redirected by Sergei Kalinin and Metsola could only pad the puck as far as Alexander Avtsin, who sent it right back past the goalie and into the net. Shortly after that, Traktor had another power play, but this one did not deliver and the game grew increasingly tense as the hooter approached. Then, in the final minute, Ufa went for broke: Hartikainen’s line whipped up a storm in front of Fedotov, with Granlund having a good chance before Harti himself went close. Then the net slipped from its moorings and, after a brief conference between the officials, the penalty shot was awarded and Salavat Yulaev secured its place in the next round.