(Avangard leads the series 1-0)
Famously, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Today, Metallurg head coach Ilya Vorobyov may by reflecting on the words of 19th-century Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Meltke after seeing his strategy for the opening game of this series go up in smoke after just 11 seconds.
Prior to puck drop, much of the discussion was about how Magnitka could exploit Avangard’s lack of defensive cover following the departure of Ville Pokka and Oliwer Kaski. But whatever plans the home team had devised were fatally disrupted when Josh Currie threw himself at Damir Sharipzyanov in center ice. The Canadian was assessed a game penalty for checking to the head and neck area, and Avangard had the initiative right away.
The visitor quickly turned that advantage into an opening goal, with Ivan Telegin redirecting Nail Yakupov’s shot past Vasily Koshechkin to make it 1-0 after 71 seconds. That lead soon increased: Sharipzyanov shrugged off any side effects from his early collision with Currie, pouncing on the loose puck after Nikolai Prokhorkin’s shot was too hot for Koshechkin to handle. Another power play saw Yakupov make it three, with Peter Cehlarik collecting his third assist of the evening and on 15:00 Prokhorkin turned Linus Hultstrom inside out before adding a fourth. That was the end of Koshechkin’s game, with Ivan Nalimov coming off the bench to replace him. Nalimov’s previous playoff campaign was in 2019, when he was an Avangard player.
After falling so far behind in the first period, Metallurg needed a quick response in the second. A penalty on Nikita Soshnikov for unsportsmanlike conduct offered the opportunity, and Brendan Leipsic cashed in with a classic power play tally to make it 1-4. But that was not the start of any fightback. Instead, Avangard resumed its offensive dominance and added three further goals. Kirill Semyonov provided a swift response to Leipsic’s marker, then Sharipzyanov and Prokhorkin potted their second efforts of the game to leave Metallurg facing a rout.
The third period produced just one more goal, but it was a notable one for Avangard’s young defenseman Timofei Davydov. The 19-year-old was only called into the team following the departure of the Finns and played just 97 seconds in his first two playoff outings. Today, though, he was trusted with nine minutes of ice time and scored his first KHL goal midway through the final stanza. Soshnikov’s feed to the point was met by the youngster, who stepped forward to unleash a shot that took a deflection on its way into the net. That was Soshnikov’s third assist of the game as Avangard completed a crushing 8-1 victory to open the series in emphatic style.