Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
(Avangard leads the series 3-2)
American defenseman Steven Kampfer grabbed the decisive goal in Kazan, giving Ak Bars a vital victory and keeping this series alive. Avangard, which won the first three games, now finds itself right back in the thick of battle with the score in the series now at 3-2.
Kampfer’s winner came out of nothing. It all started with a big pad save from home goalie Timur Bilyalov. He kicked the puck clear, and Dmitry Kagarlitsky secured possession in his own zone. The forward’s quick pass released Kampfer into Avangard territory and he needed no second invitation to finish off a two-on-one rush by himself and settle the outcome of this game.
Ak Bars knew it had to win this one to stay in the series and the home team had the first chances. An early power play did not produce too much danger for Avangard, but shortly after Corban Knight returned to the game, Nikolai Kovalenko hit the post from close range.
The home pressure was dissipated midway through the session when a couple of penalties gave Avangard a 5-on-3 advantage for 95 seconds. And that power play brought the opening goal, with Sergei Tolchinsky gobbling up the rebound from Arseny Gritsyuk’s shot. While the Hawks’ power play has been effective in this series, Ak Bars has struggled with a man advantage. The next home PP seemed set to continue that trend, with Avangard’s pressing game holding Ak Bars at bay for more than a minute. But when Danis Zaripov fired the puck to Artyom Galimov on the doorstep some swift hands brought it under control and deposited it beyond Simon Hrubec.
The scores remained tied until the intermission, with both teams playing at a high tempo. Early in the second, Ak Bars got another power play chance but could not score. Shortly afterwards, though, Dmitry Voronkov had a great chance to give the home team the lead but steered the puck onto the post.
The ringing of the iron served as a wake-up call for Avangard, and the next few minutes saw the Hawks step up the pressure. After a couple of half chances, the visitor regained the lead when Knight battled down the left-hand boards and fired a cross-ice pass for Tolchinsky to arrive at the back door and claim his second of the night. Almost immediately, Timur Bilyalov was at his best to twice deny Nikolai Prokhorkin.
Gradually, though, Ak Bars began to threaten once more. Jordan Weal fired in a shot that clipped the crossbar on its way over, then Dmitry Katelevsky tied the scores. The 19-year-old got himself into position in front of the net and when Daniil Zhuravlyov’s pass from behind the net was parried by Hrubec, the youngster pounced to send a backhander to the top shelf. That was Katelevsky’s first goal in the KHL, but a minute later it was cancelled out by an effort from a veteran in this league. Alexei Emelin has seen it all before, and he collected a pass on the blue line, easily skated away from Zaripov and dispatched a thunderbolt to the top corner.
Ak Bars threatened to tie the game even before the intermission, with Kampfer becoming the latest player to hit the piping in the 40th minute. However, the tying goal had to wait until the 52nd minute, when Kirill Panyukov got his first of the playoffs when he got on the end of a neat bit of tic-tac-toe involving Kagarlitsky and Weal. In the closing stages, Avangard almost snatched the win when Knight redirected Tolchinsky’s shot, but Bilyalov got his glove behind it and the game went to overtime.