(Ak Bars leads the series 2-0)
Salavat Yulaev came into the game with a point to prove after a heavy loss in game one. After that second-period collapse on Wednesday left Ufa on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline, Tomi Lamsa’s team started Friday’s encounter at a higher tempo. And the visitor’s control of the first period paid off when Pyotr Khokhryakov potted the only goal in the 16th minute. It was a DIY effort, with Khokhryakov intercepting Dmitry Yudin’s pass on his own blue line then sprinting up the ice and smashing in a shot that took a slight deflection on its way past Timur Bilyalov.
That was a rare moment of incisive play from either team in a game which – once again – frequently got bogged down in arm wrestles in the corners of the rink. The tone was set by a juddering collision between Stephane Da Costa and Alexander Kadeikin in the opening minutes and neither team was willing to yield an inch. Impressively, both sides played within the rules and kept out of the box for the first period.
Ak Bars looked to change all that at the start of the second period, producing some of the attacking flair that had been lacking in the opening stanza. But a flurry of early chances could not tie the scores and there was danger as Salavat responded. Markus Granlund went behind the net to create an opportunity for Sakari Manninen – a rare glimpse of Ufa’s famous Finnish strike force in this series – before Geoff Platt almost punished a sloppy clearance from Daniil Zhuravlyov as the visitor threatened to extend its lead.
But the next goal came at the other end, when a turnover in center ice helped Viktor Tikhonov to set up Nigel Dawes for a goal on his 600th KHL appearance. In the past, Dawes has been criticized for failing to match his impressive standards in the playoffs, but here he potted a clutch goal to make it 5 (3+2) points in six post season games this term.
In game one, Ak Bars took control in the middle frame. Today, though, Salavat was not about to let that happen again. Granlund almost restored the visitor’s lead a minute after Dawes’ goal but his shot deflected agonizingly wide of the post.
The teams continued to trade scoring opportunities and early in the third Mikael Wikstrand almost joined Dawes in marking a landmark game with a goal. The Swedish defenseman was making his 100th appearance for Ak Bars and came close to putting his team ahead when Kirill Petrov’s defense-splitting pass sent him through on Metsola’s net. The Finn had the answers, though.
As the game approached the 60-minute mark, chances were harder to come by at either end. However, it did not take long for overtime to separate the teams. Yudin flashed a shot wide of the target, but Galiyev was first to the rebound and managed to squeeze a shot home off the back of Metsola. The forward’s second goal of the playoffs gave his team a second win in the series and piles the pressure onto Salavat Yulaev as the Green Derby continues in Bashkortostan on Sunday.