About the League
First games of the 2019 Kharlamov Cup Semifinals took place on March 31st. Western and Eastern conference teams went up against each other for the first time in the season.
Last season’s runners-up SKA-1946 St. Petersburg began their semifinal series against an Eastern Conference team – Avto Yekaterinburg.
‘Army men’ grabbed the momentum right out of the gate and created several good scoring chances, forcing Vladimir Galkin make a few huge saves early on. The visitors responded with a counter-attack that ended with a shot by Semyon Perelyayev, but Nikita Lysenkov was up for the task. The 46’s converted on their initial powerplay opportunity of the game. It seemed that Galkin covered up the puck on Dmitry Ovechkin’s shot but it bounced right to Timur Ibragimov, who sent it upstairs to make it 1-0. Home team kept the pressure on and soon enough Nikolai Polyakov and Ivan Morozov broke loose for an odd-man rush but Galkin stood tall. However, Morozov still got what he was looking for. Another powerplay led to a passing play in Avto’s end – Morozov took a shot from the left wing and the puck dinged into the net off the far post. 2-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Second period of play began with a shot by Alexander Derbenyov, which was stopped by Lysenkov. Denis Yerkin got a 2-minute minor for tripping and the ‘army men’ capitalized on the man-advantage as well. Alexei Ozhgikhin hit the goaltender right in the crest and Evgeny Kalabushkin buried the rebound. Vladimir Galkin continued to sweat buckets knowing full well that conceding a fourth goal would be fatal. His effort did go to waste as soon enough Avto got on the board.
Ilya Zakharov took a shot from the blue line and Kirill Tyutyayev tipped it past Lysenkov. Pavel Voronkov had another good scoring chance before the intermission but this time around Lysenkov was on guard and stopped the forward on the wraparound attempt.
The visitors got back to within one just eight seconds into the third frame – Derbenyov hammered one home just under the bar from the left face-off circle. ‘Army men’ got nervous and Kirill Marchenko got a 2-minute minor for kneeing. However, Yekaterinburg failed to find the equalizer on the ensuing powerplay. Pavel Voronkov’s penalty almost lead to St. Petersburg scoring another goal but Morozov hit the post. Avto were buzzing around Lysenkov’s net late in regulation with the extra-attacker out but all in vain. SKA-1946 win 3-2 on home ice and take the lead in the series.