Two goals and an assist for Brendan Leipsic saw Metallurg’s former CSKA man conjure up a victorious return to his previous club. A convincing win in Moscow gives the Steelmen a 2-1 lead in the Gagarin Cup final.

CSKA Moscow 0 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 (0-1, 0-1, 0-2)

(Metallurg leads the series 2-1)

After the goal rush in Magnitogorsk in game two, where Metallurg took a 6-4 verdict, the series was wide open. Magnitka seemed to struggle against CSKA’s defensive systems in the first game, losing 1-3, but once able to unleash the full force of its offense, Ilya Vorobyov’s team gave the Muscovites defense a tough time in the second encounter.

Vorobyov continued with an unchanged line-up for Friday’s game, while Sergei Fedorov made one switch. Perhaps feeling a need for more stringent defense, he brought blue liner John Gilmour back to the fourth line in place of forward Semyon Pankratov.

However, CSKA continued to struggle against Metallurg’s powerful offense. The visitor came into this game having set a new record for goals in a single KHL playoff campaign and added four more before the evening was done.

Metallurg got in front midway through the first period thanks to a high-speed counter attack. Philippe Maillet chased down a Linus Hultstrom clearance and got ahead of Bogdan Kiselevich as the pair burst into the CSKA zone. Kiselevich spread himself full length to try to cut out a feed to the slot, but Maillet’s pass evaded the defenseman’s efforts and dropped perfectly for Brendan Leipsic to score on his former club for the second game in a row. Metallurg’s Canadian forwards have been dangerous throughout this year’s playoffs and here they showed exactly why.

That proved to be the only significant difference between the teams in an evenly matched first period. At the intermission, there was little to choose in terms of shots on goal (11-10 in CSKA’s favor) or time on offense (4:50 vs 4:13 for Magnitka). Face-offs and hits were similarly tight as the two teams produced the kind of close-fought hockey befitting a Gagarin Cup final.

In the second period, CSKA enjoyed more possession but could not turn that advantage into clear cut chances, never mind a tying goal. Instead, Metallurg extended its lead in the 32nd minute when Linus Videll found the unguarded corner of Ivan Fedotov’s net after a flurry of shots.

Yegor Yakovlev was heavily involved in the build-up to Videll’s goal, and the much-titled defenseman was on target himself at the start of the third period. Once again, Metallurg’s Canadians came to the fore: Josh Currie sent Leipsic sprinting down the ice and when he got to the CSKA zone he set up the vetern blue liner for an angled blast that gave Fedotov no chance.

Within three minutes, it was 4-0 as Leipsic grabbed his second of the game. This time, the home team caused its own problems when Artyom Sergeyev’s stretch pass was mis-controlled by Vitaly Abramov in center ice. Arkhip Nekolenko was on it like a flash to release Nikolai Goldobin into the danger zone and a pass to the back door gave Leipsic a simple task to finish it off. Leipsic moves to 6 (3+3) points in three games of the final series; CSKA may be regretting the decision to trade him to Magnitogorsk in the summer.

In the closing stages, CSKA replaced Fedotov with Adam Reideborn, giving the Swede his first ice time in this year’s playoffs. That may be a hint that Reideborn will start Sunday’s game after Fedotov allowed 10 goals in his last two starts. At the other end, meanwhile, Vasily Koshechkin secured his 14th playoff shut-out, finishing the game with 33 saves.

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Related clubs

Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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