Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
(Salavat Yulaev wins the series 4-1)
Two of Salavat Yulaev’s unheralded forwards got important goals to secure their team’s fourth victory in this series and help Ufa progress to the next round. Alexei Pustozyorov and Gleb Kuzmin struck in the second period, building a 2-0 lead and laying the foundations of a series-ending victory.
There was little to choose between the teams in the first period. Neither side could open the scoring, although the host looked the more threatening when it got chances on the power play. That pattern continued into the second frame, enlivened by a skirmish on 24 minutes that saw two players from each team head to the box.
Salavat Yulaev broke the deadlock in the 28th minute thanks to Pustozyorov. The 21-year-old got his first taste of playoff hockey this season, and his opportunities were enhanced by the departure of the club’s imports. Today he potted his second of the post-season, demonstrating electric pace to surge down the right-hand boards and enjoying some good fortune when he fired the puck to the slot and saw it bounce of Denis Bodrov’s skate and into the net.
Ufa’s second goalscorer of the game is another player who might not have featured in the playoffs if Tomi Lamsa’s full roster was available. Kuzmin, 25, is usually deployed in the VHL and prior to this series he hadn’t scored in the KHL since 2017-2018. Today, though, he got his second of the playoffs to double the home lead in the 33rd minute. Kuzmin got on the end of a three-man rush involving Pyotr Khokhryakov and Viktor Tikhonov. The goal was especially satisfying for the Salavat Yulaev forward, who needed to be helped from the ice earlier in the game after he was on the receiving end of a big hit.
The home team began the third period with a third goal. Nikolai Kulemin forced a turnover deep in Sibir territory. The puck went to Alexander Kadeikin, whose stick-handling took out two opponents before Kulemin collected the return pass to score.
Sibir was almost out of contention, but Alexander Sharov gave the visitor some hope of saving the game when he stole the puck from Pavel Koledov on his own blue line and skated away to win a one-on-one with Alexander Sharychenkov in the Salavat Yulaev net. The, after killing a penalty, the visitor made it a one-goal game with four minutes left to play when Sharychenkov went behind his net but misjudged the bounce off the boards. The puck squirted out to the slot, where Yegor Alanov was able to shoot home via a deflection off the unfortunate Koledov.
There was more anxiety to come for Salavat Yulaev in the final moments when Tikhonov sat for high sticks, but the home team withstood the pressure to take its place in the Eastern semi-finals. The next challenge is a match-up with Traktor, while Metallurg will face the winner of the Ak Bars vs Avangard series.