A second successive shut-out from Vasily Koshechkin saw Metallurg take a commanding 3-1 lead in the 2022 Gagarin Cup final. Ilya Vorobyov’s team can secure its third title on Tuesday when the action returns to Magnitogorsk for game five.

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

(Metallurg leads the series 3-1)

There were no changes to the Metallurg line-up, with head coach Ilya Vorobyov continuing with the players that won the last two games. CSKA, however, did have changes. Veteran forward Alexander Popov missed out, with Pavel Karnaukhov taking his place on the third line. Young defenseman Vladimir Grudinin was also scratched, while Semyon Pankratov returned to the fray after missing the previous game. Ivan Fedotov continued between the piping despite allowing 10 goals in his previous two games and making way for Adam Reideborn late in Friday’s game.

The first period produced an interesting contest, despite finishing goalless. CSKA enjoyed more of the possession, but Metallurg’s counter-attacking play caused problems for the Muscovites at the other end. Indeed, despite having rather less time in the offensive zone than its opponent, Magnitka arguably looked the more likely to score in the opening exchanges. The visitor’s best chances came midway through the session, with Philippe Maillet firing in a dangerous shot from the boards before Josh Currie fluffed his lines in a one-on-one breakaway. For CSKA, Sergei Plotnikov looked the liveliest forward in the opening exchanges.

After the intermission, Metallurg managed to break the deadlock. In the 23rd minute, Yegor Yakovlev fed the puck along the blue line where Artyom Zemchyonok was waiting. He advanced to the top of the circle before blasting an unstoppable effort that ripped over Fedotov’s shoulder and clipped the inside of the post on its way into the net. Zemchyonok’s scoring potential has been relatively modest in his career to date, but Yakovlev had extra cause to celebrate his assist: the helper takes Metallurg’s captain to 15 (2+13) points in this year’s playoffs and sets a new KHL scoring record for a Russian defenseman in a single post season campaign. However, he still has some way to go to match Chris Lee’s 21 points for Metallurg in 2017.

CSKA, meanwhile, had other worries. Blanked again in the first two periods of this game, Sergei Fedorov’s men went more than 100 minutes at home without a goal, a run that risked sinking their Gagarin Cup hopes. That owed much to Metallurg’s defense: goalie Vasily Koshechkin made 19 saves across two periods to add to the 33 he had on Friday. In addition, there were 14 blocked shots – Artyom Minulin leading the way with five stops – as Vorobyov’s team did a solid job of keeping the Muscovites away from the danger zone.

However, towards the end of the second period CSKA began to pose more of an attacking threat and the home team kept that up at the beginning of the third. Efforts from Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrei Svetlakov got steadily closer, then Plotnikov clipped the crossbar when shooting at a seemingly open corner.

Gradually, though, Metallurg’s defense tightened up. As the game entered the final five minutes, there was a solid defensive wall denying CSKA access to the visitor’s zone as the Steelmen looked to close out a win that would take them to within one game of claiming a third Gagarin Cup. In the final storm, Koshechkin lost his stick while making a save late in the game, but his team-mates rallied to protect his net and not even a final 6-on-5 rush could find a way past the veteran goalie.

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