Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
(Salavat Yulaev leads the series 3-1)
Bereft of its imports and forced to rebuild the team during this Eastern Conference first round series, Salavat Yulaev is on the brink of progress. Two goals from Alexander Kadeikin led the way in Tuesday’s 6-3 win in Novosibirsk, opening a 3-1 lead in the series and presenting Tomi Lamsa’s team with the chance to finish the job back in Ufa on Thursday.
Salavat Yulaev produced a commanding performance in the first period, dominating the play from start to finish and deservedly building a 2-0 lead. Young Danil Alalykin claimed the first, reacting smartly after Anton Krasotkin failed to control the rebound from Evgeny Biryukov’s point shot. Sibir fans may wonder whether Finnish goalie Harri Sateri, another of the imports to leave Russia this month, might have done better with that opportunity.
However, little blame could be attached to Krasotkin overall. The goalie was overworked in the first period, facing 19 shots in total. He kept the score to 0-1 until the 16th minute, when a 5-on-3 power play brought the visitor its second tally of the day. Kadeikin was the scorer, exchanging passes with Sergei Shmelyov before shooting home from the right-hand circle. Those two were involved once again as Salavat extended its lead in the second period with another power play. This time, it was a set-up for Viktor Tikhonov to make it 3-0.
Midway through the game, Sibir got its first chance on the power play and took advantage to reduce the deficit thanks to Michal Cajkovsky. But the respite was brief. Vladislav Kartayev added a fourth and the game seemed to be heading irresistibly towards the visitor.
Sibir had other ideas, though, and launched a fightback that briefly threatened to make this into a genuine contest. Ilya Morozov pulled one back just before the second intermission, then Alexander Sharov made it a one-goal game with a power play tally early in the third. However, the Sibir forward was in for an afternoon of rapid ups and downs: after the high of scoring a vital goal, Sharov experienced the low of a game penalty after needlessly felling Grigory Panin on the slot some time after the puck had gone. There may have been an element of vengeance: Panin was ejected from the previous game for a reckless challenge on Denis Bodrov but received only a fine and no suspension. Today, Panin was injured in the collision, Sharov left his team defending a major penalty.
The Salavat Yulaev power play was not about to spurn that opportunity, and Kadeikin’s second of the game was his team’s third with a man advantage. More importantly, it opened a lead that Ufa would not relinquish. There were penalties on Danil Bashkirov and Alexander Sharychenkov late in the game but Sibir could not profit and the outcome was conclusively settled when Pyotr Khokhryakov scored an empty netter in the final seconds.
The teams return to Ufa for game five on Thursday, with Sibir knowing that only victory will keep its season alive.