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Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk enjoyed their second win over Tolpar Ufa two days ago, which meant that Eastern Conference regular season champions had no more room for mistake. Both teams came out hard and Yuri Platonov, the hero of he previous game, almost got in on a breakaway with Dmitry Braginsky, but Shakir Mukhamadullin managed to get in the way just in time. Eight minutes into the game the visitors opened up the scoring. They won a face-off in the offensive zone, Pavel Yelizarov put it on net from the blue line but Gleb Nosov didn’t see the puck leaving the blade of the stick and couldn’t react to it on time – Ufa went up 1-0. Magnitogorsk failed to covert on several good scoring chances and had to pay for it. Tolpar skated down the ice, had two of their shots block but when the puck bounced to Danila Bashkirov, he tapped it into the yawning net to make it 2-0 Tolpar after 20 minutes of play.
The teams traded scoring chances in the early minutes of the second period. Rodion Amirov skated away to face Nosov but the goaltender stood tall. Soon after that home team allowed another goal but the puck went in after the play had been blown dead so it was waved off. Tolpar killed off a penalty and midway through he frame almost further improved their lead – Daniil Alalykin missed the net from point blank range. Soon after that Stalnye Lisy found themselves shorthanded and Nikita Goloschapov ringed one off the post. As a result, the score didn’t change in the second period.
Home team rushed down the ice early in the third stanza, buzzed around Braginsky’s net and finally got what they were looking for. Edgar Varagyan managed to take a mighty shot and the puck zinged into the net short-side past the helpless goaltender. With six minutes remaining to play in regulation came the key moment of the game. Tolpar spent some time playing six against five and got a penalty for having too many men on the ice. Magnitogorsk pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker but to no avail – Braginsky and his defense didn’t crack. Tolpar win 2-1 and tie the series 2-2. The fans are in for Game 5, which will take place on March 16th in Ufa.
Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk, who were pinned to the wall after losing their second game to Avto Yekaterinburg, came out hard for the home game. Vladimir Galkin allowed a goal just a minute in. Bogdan Zhilyakov cut a marvelous pass to the slot and Arkady Aksyonov sniped one into the back of the net off spinorama. Ilya Gorbunov had to work hard after that as he made a few huge saves. Late in the first period of play he visitors found themselves shorthanded as Kirill Tyutyayev took a penalty. However, they managed to survive it despite the heavy pressure from Chelyabinsk.
Second stanza began with Yegor Vdovin getting a minor but Yekaterinburg didn’t have a good power play. They failed to pitch camp in the offensive zone as Belye Medvedi defense played with focus. Nevertheless, midway through the period the visitors got in the rhythm and began spending a lot of time next to Gorbunov’s net. Unfortunately for them, the goaltender was in the zone and was stopping one shot after another. He made amazing saves on Sergei Kolesnikov and Yuri Salov. With four minutes on the clock Kirill Kadyshev had a scuffle with Alexander Fyodorov. Salov also got a minor but Avto were able to kill it off.
The visitors once again began looking for their chances in the offensive zone but Belye Medvedi survived a penalty and responded with several counter-attacks. In the second half of the period their goaltender and defensemen had to pull off a lot of work but they managed to catch the opposition off guard with a quick transition play and Alexander Yakovlev slung it home as he skated to the slot from the area behind the net. Video review confirmed there was no goaltender interference on the play. Vitaly Solovyov’s men allowed their third goal on the empty net. Demid Mansurov was credited with the marker. Belye Medvedi win 3-0 as Gorbunov posted a 56-save shutout. The series will have to decided in Game 5 on March 16th in Yekaterinburg.
Mamonty Yugry were another team that had nothing to lose. Last year’s bronze medalists lost to Omskie Yastreby the day before in Game and had no room for mistake. The game began with several offensive rushes by Khanty-Mansiysk, who took twice as many shots as the opposition but it was the ‘Hawks’ who got the first goal of the afternoon. The visitors won the battle for the puck at the boards, Alexander Prokopenko motored into the zone and made a crisp pass to unmarked Matvey Zaseda. The forward one-timed it on net, Konstantin Kuzmaul had a piece of it but the puck still ended up in the net. 1-0 after first period of action.
Omskie Yastreby level it on the shot-clock in the second frame and began posing more trouble for Kuzmaul. One of their offensive rushes led to another goal. Zaseda was once again right in the midst of the play as he picked up an assist, while Prokopenko found the back of the net. Matvey passed it to the middle of the ice, where his teammate was left all by himself. Prokopenko fired it top-shelf right away, even though he had enough time to take a look around and aim, since all Mamonty Yugry players were caught out of play. Khanty-Mansiysk had just 20 minutes to salvage the series.
Third stanza began with Danila Vtorushin getting a penalty. After that Omskie Yastreby took two minors and let Mamonty Yugry pull back to within one. After Semyon Astashevsky was sent to the box, Maxim Kirileychenko sent it past Georgy Dubrovsky. However, after the much needed goal home team ran into a discipline problem. They took their third consecutive penalty with just a handful of minutes remaining to be played in regulation – exactly when the ‘Mammoths’ needed to go for the final push. As a result, Omskie Yastreby held on to their 2-1 lead and won the series, getting their revenge for losing to Mamonty Yugry in the previous season. Omskie Yastreby proceed to the second round for the second consecutive time.