(Avangard leads the series 2-1)
Once again, this series produced a high-scoring performance from the visiting team. Metallurg recovered from allowing 15 goals in two home games to win 5-2 on the road and got off the mark in this Eastern Conference semi-final.
In each of the two previous games in Magnitogorsk, Metallurg allowed an early goal and never really recovered. This time, Ilya Voroboyov’s team was determined to get through the opening session with minimal damage. The visitor tried to take the game to Avangard and enjoyed a measurable territorial advantage without finding a way to open the scoring. Then, in the closing moments, a home power play saw the Hawks get in front. Alexei Emelin’s point shot was redirected by Corban Knight in front of the net and that was enough to beat Vasily Koshechkin for the first goal of the game.
Although Magnitka was down at the intermission, a one-goal deficit was an improvement on the four goals Avangard had scored in the opening stages of the earlier games. And, indeed, it gave a starting point from which the visitor was able to get back into contention – in this meeting, if not the series as a whole. Midway through the second period, a goal out of nothing tied the game: Alexei Maklyukov’s stretch pass sprung the Hawks’ defense and Nikolai Goldobin raced through to score.
Metallurg was enjoying the better of the play now and earned a second goal just before the intermission. The visitor got on the power play and Andrei Chibisov shot home from the left-hand circle off a Yegor Yakovlev feed. There might have been a third goal before the hooter: Pavel Akolzin bundled home a rebound from close range but a video review established that he used his hand to scoop the puck into the net.
That reprieve did little to aid Avangard, though. Early in the third period another power play saw Metallurg extend its lead. Once again, Nikolai Prokhorkin sat and watched as his team fell further behind. Goldobin got his second of the game, a powerful, accurate snipe from between the hash marks after Philippe Maillet won his draw against Knight.
This was the most challenging situation Avangard had faced in the series so far, and Bob Hartley’s team looked to turn things around. A power play chance came and went, but soon after the teams were back to equal strength Nikita Soshnikov was credited with the 2-3 goal after getting the crucial touch on Alexei Bereglazov’s point shot.
However, Metallurg was not about to let its lead slip. Instead, Goldobin got his third of the game in the 56th minute. Once again, Prokhorkin played an unwilling part in Avangard’s problems. This time, the former Metallurg forward was on the ice, but turned into trouble in the offensive zone and lost the puck to Goldobin. The 26-year-old raced away to beat Simon Hrubec in a one-on-one to put the game beyond Avangard’s reach. Anatoly Nikontsev’s empty net marker merely completed the formalities as Metallurg reinvigorated the series.