(Series tied at 2-2)
Traktor’s offense cut loose in game four of this Eastern Conference semi-final. Up to now, the second seed in this section has not managed to unleash its full attacking potential – all four games in its sweep of Neftekhimik were decided by a single-goal margin, while it suffered 0-1 and 1-3 losses against Salavat Yulaev. In between, a 4-1 win hinted at more to come from Traktor’s forwards – and today they delivered.
It started in the first minute when Tomas Hyka opened the scoring. Shakir Mukhamadullin’s attempt to clear his lines was charged down by the Czech forward, who stepped forward to wire a wrister past Alexander Sharychenkov.
The visitor continued to press, with Vitaly Kravtsov setting up Vladimir Tkachyov for a dangerous chance midway through the session. And there was a second goal for Hyka late in the frame when he smashed home Evgeny Kulik feed along the blue line.
Salavat Yulaev had a swift response to that tally, Alexei Pustozyorov converting the rebound after Artyom Pimenov stole the puck from Sergei Telegin. And it wasn’t long before the home team had a 5-on-3 advantage for 75 seconds, finishing the first period on a dominant note.
Traktor, though, weathered that storm and unleashed a hurricane of its own in the second frame. The visitor got a 5-on-3 power play of its own and showed how it should be done, extending its lead after just five seconds thanks to Nick Bailen’s shot from the center of the zone. Bailen’s next contribution saw him playing the enforcer: Grigory Panin’s high hit laid Lukas Sedlak on the ice and Bailen wasted no time in exacting retribution. Panin was assessed two major penalties – one for the hit, one for the fight – and removed from the game; Bailen was assessed a roughing minor, a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct for initiating the fight. Sedlak was helped from the ice and did not feature again in this game.
When the dust settled, Traktor took the opportunity to increase its lead. Playing four-on-four, the visitor engineered a 3-on-1 rush and Telegin fired home the fourth. Then, on the power play, Kravtsov added a fifth. That goal went past Alexander Skrynnik, who replaced Sharychenkov after Telegin’s tally. Skrynnik’s day wasn’t improved when his error allowed Alexei Byvaltsev to add a sixth with a routine effort from the boards that caught the understudy goalie out of position.
Although the outcome was settled, the teams maintained a lively tempo in the third period. Seeking to restore some pride, Salavat Yulaev had slightly the better of the play in the final stanza. However, the final word went to Traktor: Kirill Kapustin rifled home his first goal of this year’s playoffs on his first post-season appearance, underlining an emphatic win that sends this series back to the Urals with the teams deadlocked at 2-2.