(Series tied at 1-1)
After losing 2-5 in the opening game, it was no surprise that Bob Hartley wished to replace goalie Igor Bobkov. However, that posed more selection problems: a vital playoff encounter was hardly the place to hand Andrei Mishurov a KHL debut but calling on Czech netminder Simon Hrubec would force further changes to the roster to remain within the five-import limit. Ultimately, Hrubec got the nod at the expense of his compatriot, Jiri Sekac; Hartley was rewarded with 38 saves to help the Hawks to the win.
The first period saw Metallurg enjoy the bulk of the play but arguably the better chances went to the home team. In the sixth minute, Ilya Kovalchuk’s vision cut through the Magnitka defense, but Vasily Koshechkin denied Denis Zernov. And Kovalchuk was involved again later in the frame, battling on the slot to create a chance for Sergei Tolchinsky which narrowly missed the far corner.
Midway through the second period, Avangard went ahead for the first time in the series. The goal came from the Hawks’ fourth line, with Andrei Stas and Alexei Potapov engineering an opportunity for Damir Sharipzyanov to rifle a shot in off the underside of the bar. That was a first career playoff goal for the former Neftekhimik defenseman and it promised to be a significant one if it could kickstart a much-needed victory for his team.
But home happiness was quickly quelled. Metallurg tied it up on the next shift, winning possession behind its own net and launching a swift counter. Sergei Mozyakin brought the puck down the ice and passed it inside for Maxim Karpov to pot his first of the 2021 playoffs. Quick exchanges of goals had been a feature of the opening game of the series and the teams repeated that trick once again here. Metallurg may have hoped for more to come when Kirill Gotovets took 5+20 for a foul on Andrei Chibisov shortly after the tying goal, but Avangard killed that major penalty and, as in the first game, the teams were deadlocked after 40 minutes.
In the opening meeting, the outcome was decided by Metallurg’s three-goal blast early in the third. Avangard learned from that and, helped by a power play that carried over from before the intermission, looked to seize control of the game and prevent the visitor from gaining a foothold in the play. Soon, the Hawks had the puck in the net once again when Oliwer Kaski fired home off a Corban Knight feed. However, an extended video review hung on whether earlier in the play the Finn used his hand to direct a clearance onto Knight’s stick. After a long look at the incident, the officials whistled off the play and the teams remained locked at 1-1.
It remained that way throughout the third stanza, despite extended periods of pressure from Avangard. And overtime, too, produced plenty of anxious moments for both teams as they committed to attacking hockey in search of a decisive goal. Yegor Chinakhov created the first big chance of the extras and after his attack, both teams decided to go all-out for a winner. Koshechkin came up with a huge, sprawling save to deny Kirill Semyonov but soon after that a penalty on Mikhail Pashnin gave Avangard its chance. And this time, the home team converted it, with Kaski and Reid Boucher combining to set up Tolchinsky’s big moment.