(Series tied at 2-2)
Three unanswered goals in the first period put Metallurg in control of this game and paved the way for the Eastern Conference top seed to level this series. The visitor was quick to take control of the game and its early pressure was rewarded with a quickfire treble midway through the first period. Philippe Maillet opened the scoring in the eighth minute, just as Kirill Semyonov was returning to the ice after serving the first penalty of the game. Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Maxim Karpov stole the puck as Avangard tried to clear its lines, Nikolai Goldobin fired in a shot and Denis Zernov redirected it past Simon Hrubec.
A third goal was not long in coming, with Avangard again guilty of leaving too much open space in front of its net. Perhaps for the first time since the departure of defensemen Ville Pokka and Oliwer Kaski, the Hawks’ blue line looked vulnerable and on this occasion Brendan Leipsic was on hand to convert a pass from Yegor Yakovlev and make it 3-0.
Avangard responded by changing its goalie. Hrubec left the game to be replaced by Vasily Demchenko. Almost immediately, the home team got the puck in the net, but Arseny Gritsyuk’s effort was wiped out after the Metallurg bench challenged for offside.
Gritsyuk grabbed a legitimate goal in the 28th minute, exchanging passes with Alexei Emelin before lashing in an effort from the right-hand circle. That power play tally was exactly what the home team needed to revive its hopes of taking something from this game and a passage of 4-on-4 play shortly afterwards saw Nikolai Prokhorkin get the puck in the net after a battle on the slot. Once again, there was a review on the play as the Metallurg bench claimed interference on goalie Vasily Koshechkin and once again the bench challenge was upheld.
To rub salt into that wound, Metallurg then went to the other end and scored a fourth goal. Josh Currie, whose ejection from game one of this series in the first minute set the tone for Avangard’s crushing win in Magnitogorsk, made a far more positive contribution for his team here to extend Magnitka’s advantage and tip the scoreline closer to a rout. It was a moment Demchenko will want to forget as he allowed his first playoff goal this year to an effort that he got behind but could not stop from bouncing over the line.
Avangard’s day was not destined to get any better. Midway through the third period the home team got a power play and withdrew Demchenko to play six-on-four. The gambit almost worked – Sergei Tolchinsky rifled home a wrist shot – but instead of celebrating a second goal, another bench challenge saw his effort whistled down for offside earlier in the play.
Another home power play summed up Avangard’s day: Brendan Leipsic sat a bench minor for delaying the game, Demchenko again went to the bench ... and Metallurg grabbed an empty-net goal from Zernov, the former Avangard man collecting his second of the game.
The closing stages were overshadowed by a skirmish involving every player on the ice. It started when Nikita Komarov looked to avenge a hard but fair hit on him and clattered Nikolayev at the other end of the ice. Tempers flared, and by the end of the battle both goalies had left their creases and were looking to join the action. Six players ended up with minor penalties, including the two goalies. Komarov was assessed a double minor for boarding and roughing as the flashpoint provided a de facto conclusion to the game’s meaningful action.