(Traktor wins the series 4-2)
The first period was evenly fought and there were few clear chances at either end. Traktor had slightly the better of the stats, outshooting Salavat Yulaev 10-8, but in truth there was little to separate the opponents in a cautious opening.
The pattern of play changed abruptly in the second period. Where the opening frame did not bring a clear advantage for either team, the middle stanza saw Traktor forge ahead. The visitor outshot Salavat Yulaev 12-3 – tribute to a defensive display that blocked nine out of 15 attempts at the other end – and made the most of those chances.
The deadlock was broken midway through the period when Traktor’s defense conjured up the opening goal. Usually, Nick Bailen gets his points with rockets from the blue line but today, just for variety, he ghosted into space at the back door and converted a perfectly flighted feed from fellow defenseman Sergei Telegin. If that goal was built on quality play from the visitor, the second owed a lot to a misjudgement by home goalie Alexander Sharychenkov. He went behind his net to retrieve the puck but found himself harried and hassled by Vyacheslav Osnovin. A hasty clearance went straight to Lawrence Pilut, and the Swedish D-man quickly fired in a shot that Sharychenkov could only parry into Osnovin’s path for a simple finish.
The home team had a daunting task ahead of it in the third period, but the home crowd in Ufa still believed. When Albert Yarullin picked up a penalty early in the frame, a great roar went around the arena as Salavat Yulaev’s fans sensed that this could be the moment to revive the game. The home power play immediately made things hot for Roman Will but, one early scramble aside, found it hard to penetrate a well-drilled Traktor PK. However, just as Yarullin returned to the game, Will was penalized for moving the net and the power play continued. Once again, though, Ufa’s pressure came to nothing.
That established a pattern for the third period. By the 52-minute mark, Salavat Yulaev had played exactly half the frame with a man advantage and led the shot count 18-1. However, it could not find a way through Traktor’s defense and time was running out to save the game and the series.
Finally, with four minutes left, Will was beaten at last and Ufa had renewed hope. Telegin was caught in possession as he looked to bring the puck out of the zone and the rapid turnaround left Traktor exposed at the back. Alexander Kadeikin took advantage, exchanging passes with Mikhail Naumenkov to open up Will’s net before firing home. That made it back-to-back goals for the Salavat Yulaev center, but once again Kadeikin finished on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline. The home team tried to force a tying goal in the closing stages, but Traktor was able to play out the remaining moments and secure the victory that moves it into the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2018.