Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
(Avangard leads the series 3-1)
Dmitry Kagarlitsky’s overtime goal gave Ak Bars a vital victory in Balashikha. His strike after three minutes of the extras denied Avangard a sweep of this Eastern Conference first-round match-up and sends the action back to Kazan on Thursday with Dmitry Kvartalnov’s men given renewed hope of salvaging the series.
Kagarlitsky rifled home a wrister from between the hash marks after defensemen Steven Kampfer and Kristian Khenkel combined to released the much-travelled forward into the danger zone. For Kampfer, the assist was the final act of a busy day that also saw him on the scoresheet after making an unwanted contribution to Avangard’s opening goal of the game.
That first-period opener maintained an unhappy record for the visitor, which has now allowed the first goal in its last 14 outings. Nikita Soshnikov put Avangard ahead with an unstoppable shot from the center of the zone as the visiting defense seemed to stop when the referee’s arm went up to indicate a delayed penalty coming on Kampfer.
Avangard continued to create chances and was close to extending its lead when Sergei Tolchinsky got clean through on Timur Bilyalov, only for the Ak Bars goalie to shut the door. However, the territorial advantage lay with the visitor and in the 14th minute that led to a tying goal. A strong pressing game in center ice gave Ak Bars the puck, Dmitry Voronkov moved it to the slot and Kirill Panyukov set up Ilya Safonov for a one-timer that beat Simon Hrubec in the Avangard net.
In the second period, Ak Bars continued to enjoy the bulk of the pressure. However, the visitor took the lead on a counter-attacking play. Jordan Weal won possession in his own zone and released Daniil Tarasov. The forward’s advance drew Viktor Svedberg towards him, freeing up space for Kampfer. The Ak Bars defenseman had joined the rush effectively, and Tarasov’s pass gave him a routine finish to make it 2-1.
Shortly after that, Safonov got into a fight with Nikita Komarov and both players took double minors for roughing. Later in the frame, Avangard’s defenseman Kirill Gotovets was sent headlong into the boards after a challenge from Voronkov and needed help from the medics to get off the ice. But that did not prevent the Hawks from finishing the period strongly as a flurry of chances concluded with Arseny Gritsyuk testing Bilyalov on the wraparound.
In the third period, Ak Bars looked to close out the game and secure its first win of the post-season. It looked like the tactic might work as the clock ran down and Avangard struggled to get good looks at Bilyalov. However, with three minutes to play, Kirill Semyonov changed everything with a tying goal. It came on a broken play, with Ak Bars seemingly clearing the danger before Damir Sharipzyanov held the puck in at the point and sent a pass to the gap between the hash marks. There, Semyonov was waiting and he managed to nip in ahead of Alexei Bereglazov to steer a shot past the startled Bilyalov. However, his intervention merely delayed Ak Bars’ success by a few minutes.