Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Gagarin Cup Semi-Finals

Eight teams survived the opening round of the KHL's Gagarin Cup Playoffs, and we saw a couple of surprising upsets as two-time defending champion Dynamo Moscow and playoff favorite Ak Bars Kazan were sent home at the close of the opening series. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, who lost their team in the horrific plane crash in 2011, advanced by knocking off heavily-favored Dynamo Moscow, sending their fans into playoff fever! Today, HBIC will look at the four semi-final series in the Gagarin Cup Playoffs!

WEST - #2 SKA St. Petersburg vs. #8 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

SKA St. Petersburg likes to score while Yaroslavl played some tight defence in knocking off Dynamo Moscow in the opening round. If defence wins championships, Yaroslavl should pencil their names into the parade route now. However, the Western Conference's second-seeded team from St. Petersburg certainly wanted a shot at planning their own parade!

GAME ONE: SKA St. Petersburg got the fans in the game early as they had them standing just 3:20 into the first period! Alexei Semenov cruised into the Lokomotiv zone down the right wing, and threaded a beautiful cross-ice pass to a streaking Patrick Thoresen down the left wing who potted his fourth goal of the playoffs behind Curtis Sanford! Both teams would battle hard in this game, and neither would give another inch! Despite only surrendering one goal, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl loses Game One to SKA St. Petersberg by the 1-0 count! SKA ST. PETERSBURG LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: This game started with an early goal as well. Lokomotiv's Emil Galimov's spinning shot was blocked in te slot, but the puck popped free to Sergei Konkov who ripped home his fifth of the playoffs past goaltender Alexander Salak for the 1-0 Lokomotiv lead just 1:55 in. SKA would respond before the intermission as Tony Martensson threaded a cross-ice pass to Roman Cervenka, and he'd go high on Sanford for his fourth of the playoffs at 19:16 to even the game at 1-1. SKA would strike just 1:01 into the second period as Alexei Ponikarovsky's drop-pass at the blue line was picked up by Ilya Kablukov and his wrist shot beat Sanford high for his first of the playoffs. Lokomotiv would respond 3:29 later on the powerplay as Geoff Platt's blast from the point was redirected by Konkov in the slot for his second of the game and the 2-2 equalizer. SKA's Ilya Kovalchuk will notch his second goal of the playoffs at the 6:37 mark as he cruised down the left wing on a 2-on-1, kept the puck, and wired it low glove-side for the 3-2 advantage. At the 10:20 mark, Dinar Khafizullin's point shot is tipped by Roman Cervenka for his second of the night, and SKA found themselves up 4-2 after two periods. With less than eight minutes left, Lokomotiv's Staffan Kronwall took a pass as he skated into the slot, and found some room to pot his second goal of the playoffs for a 4-3 SKA lead. Lokomotiv pulled the goalie for the extra skater late in the game, and Kronwall's pass from the corner found a wide-open Daniil Apalkov in the slot who made no mistake with one minute remaining, sending this game to overtime! However, we got a winner 10:39 into the extra frame.
Vladislav Kartayev's first goal of the playoffs is a game-winner in Game Two's 5-4 overtime win for Lokomotiv, evening the series! SERIES TIED AT 1-1.

GAME THREE: Lokomotiv entered Game Three at home having not lost on home ice, and they'd need that magic to continue to put pressure on SKA who had not won in Yaroslavl all season. Lokomotiv would open the scoring in the second period when Vladislav Kartayev tapped home a rebound off a Geoff Platt shot past Salak at the 4:04 mark for a 1-0 lead. SKA would even things up 2:25 later when Patrick Thoresen's wrister from the high slot finds room past Sanford for the 1-1 tie. Before the period ends, though, Lokomotiv regains their lead when Yegor Averin makes a nifty move to get the puck around the sprawling Salak before tucking it in from the side of the net at 17:48. 9:11 into the third period saw Lokomotiv's Sergei Plotnikov fire a long wrist shot in from just inside the blueline that eludes Salak for the 3-1 Yaroslavl lead. Lokomotiv's Sergei Konkov pots an empty-netter with 54 seconds to play to ice this one for Lokomotiv with the 4-1 victory. LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: SKA St. Petersburg decided that this eight-game winning streak at home for Lokomotiv needed to come to an end as they crushed Yaroslavl on home ice tonight. A turnover and a quick shot for recently-recalled Anton Malyshev at the 9:20 mark found its way past Sanford for the early 1-0 St. Petersburg lead. They would make it a two-goal lead while on the powerplay at 15:36 when Tony Martensson fires home a rebound off a Roman Cervenka shot. And SKA would round out the scoring in the opening period when Vadim Shipachyov tips home a Viktor Tikhonov pass past Sanford just 57 seconds after their powerplay goal for a 3-0 lead! 8:48 into the second, Lokomotiv gives the fans some life when Yegor Yakovlev redirects a Sergei Plotnikov pass past Salak to cut the SKA lead to 3-1. Just 24 seconds later, though, Alexander Barabanov picks up his own rebound in the slot and buries it past Sanford to restore SKA's three-goal margin. At the 16:13 mark, Viktor Tikhonov tees up a one-timer from the dot on the powerplay, and that would do it for Sanford's night as SKA had a 5-1 lead after forty minutes. With eight seconds remaining, Ilya Kovalchuk would tee up a shot from the top of the face-off circle while on the powerplay that Vitaly Kolesnik could no stop to make it a 6-1 game for St. Petersburg. SERIES TIED AT 2-2.

GAME FIVE: This game was highlighted by excellent goaltending from both Salak and Sanford. However, SKA would break the goose egg in the second period when Patrick Thoresen found Kevin Dallman creeping in from the point, and Dallman wired home the puck at the 2:18 mark while on the powerplay for the 1-0 lead. Lokomotiv would respond with their own powerplay marker at the 10:04 mark when Sergei Konkov fed Ilya Gorokhov in the slot, and he made no mistake in tying this gam at 1-1. With 1:21 remaining in the second, Emil Galimov picked up a loose puck from the face-off and scored a bad-angle goal on Salak as he squeezed the puck between the post and Salak for the 2-1 Lokomotiv lead. Just 32 seconds into the third period, Yegor Averin skates out of the corner while on the powerplay to the top of the circle and beats Salak with his wrist shot to put Lokomotiv up 3-1. As time was winding down, SKA needed a goal and they got one while playing shorthanded! Roman Cervenka set up Patrick Thoresen for his fifth goal of the playoffs to make it a 3-2 game at the 17:39 mark, but Sanford would allow no other goals as Lokomotiv skated to the 3-2 win. LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL LEADS 3-2.

GAME SIX: Lokomotiv returns home where they are 8-1 in the playoffs, and SKA needs a win to stay alive or they would follow Dynamo Moscow home in an upset! Both teams played pretty defensively in the first two periods, but we'd see our first goal in the third! Geoff Platt's pass from behind the net found Yury Petrov in the high slot, and his flutter-puck eluded Salak to find the netting at 3:22 of the final frame! Lokomotiv would go up by a pair at the 10:38 mark when Vitaly Vishnevsky out-waits Salak, dekes around the sprawling netminder, and tucks the puck in the side of the goal for the 2-0 lead. That's all Sanford would need as he records the shutout, and Lokomotiv would knock off the Western Conference's second-seeded team with the 2-0 victory! LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL WINS 4-2.

WEST - #3 Lev Prague vs. #4 Donbass Donetsk

This would be an interesting series as the Czech-based Lev Prague would only travel to Bratislava, Slovakia for road games as Ukraine-based Donbass Donetsk would be playing the remainder of their home playoff games in Bratislava with the political unrest in Ukraine. Would this be a factor?

GAME ONE: This one started with both teams trading chances, but the first goal might be one for the books. At 14:30, Justin Azevedo's shot from the left face-off circle rung off the post behind Donbass goalie Jan Laco, but the officials chose to review the play. Upon review, the officials stated that the puck crossed the line, but reviews showed it clearly went off the inside of the post! Nevertheless, Azevedo's third goal of the playoffs put Lev Prague up 1-0. 3:04 into the second, Calle Ridderwall's shot was blocked by a Donbass defenceman, but the ricochet went to Jakub Matai who fired the puck high past Laco to put Lev up 2-0. 45 seconds later, it was 3-0 when Jiri Novotny shoveled home his own rebound, and that goal would end Laco's night as Michael Leighton took over. Lev didn't let up, though, as Marc-Andre Gragnani's low shot was tipped by Petr Vrana at the 7:27 mark to give Prague the 4-0 lead. And at the 17:13 mark, Patrik Zackrisson found himself open in the slot with the puck before zipping it past Leighton for the 5-0 lead after two periods. Donbass would snap Petri Vehanen's shutout 8:32 into the third when Viktor Zakharov came out of the sin bin, took a pass on a partial breakaway, and he beat Vehanen on the backhand to make it 5-1. With 1:46 remaining, Zakharov's shot would be stopped, but Dmitry Kagarlitsky kicked the rebound to his stick and popped it into the back of the net to make it 5-2. Much too little, much too late, though, as Lev holds on for the 5-2 victory. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Donbass wasn't waiting for anyone in this game. Just 4:12 in, Evgeny Dadonov's wrap-around would find space under Vehanen for the early 1-0 lead. After a questionable Ruslan Fedotenko match penalty for boarding, Lev went to work. Nathan Oystrick's point shot is stopped, but Petr Vrana nets the rebound from the right side with 2:03 in the period, and it was 1-1. And with 32 seconds remaining, Vrana gets his second powerplay goal of the night from nearly the same spot! Mikko Maenpaa ripped a shot from the point, and Vrana as there to put the puck behind Leighton on the backhand for the 2-1 lead after the first period. Donbass would pull even at 14:14 of the second period on their own powerplay when Evgeny Belukhin ripped a shot from the top of the face-off circle past Vehanen for the 2-2 score. But 21 seconds later, a weird goal was scored by Lev once again as Lukas Cingel was cross-checked into Michael Leighton, and the rebound off Jakub Matai's shot went in off Cingel's chest! Make it 3-2 Prague with that one. With 5:50 to play in the game, Donbass would equalize as Dadonov's shot was tipped past Vehanen by Maxim Yakutsenya, and we'd head to overtime tied 3-3. When I say overtime, we're not talking one period. Not even two. Heck, let's toss three periods out. In the fourth overtime period, we finally got a winner at the 6:14 mark.
As you heard, Donbass and Lev set the record for the longest KHL game in league history, and Andrei Konev ended the game 126:14 after the opening puck was dropped! SERIES TIED AT 1-1.

GAME THREE: The series shifted to Slovakia after the marathon game in Prague, so what would we see out of these two teams just two days later? Donbass would have the faux-home crowd cheering early. On the powerplay just 11:36 in, Clay Wilson's point shot is tipped by Evgeny Dadonov past Atte Engren for the early 1-0 Donestsk lead. 7:17 into the second period, former NHLer Niko Kapanen pokes home a rebound after a goalmouth scramble for his first playoff goal, and Lev pulls even at 1-1. But just 47 seconds later, Dadonov is at it again as he sets up Evgeny Belukhin in front of the net to put Donbass up 2-1. Lev would tie the game before the end of the second period, though, as Petr Vrana's shot while shorthanded is stopped, but Martin Thornberg pokes it loose from Leighton and Vrana picks up the losse puck for the shorthanded marker with 1:02 left in the middle frame. The third period would solve nothing, so it was back to extra hockey! We'd see a winner much earlier in the evening, though.
Michal Repik's blast from the high slot at 13:28 on the pass from Petr Vrana would be all Lev needed as they take Game Three 3-2 in overtime! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: Donbass would open the scoring in this game as Lukas Kaspars finds an open Oskars Bartulis at the high slot, and his shot gets past Petri Vehanen at the 16:44 mark for the 1-0 lead. 8:02 into the second period, and Donbass' Alexander Toryanik jams home a pass from Evgeny Belukhin pass for the 2-0 lead. To the third period where Lev strikes when Justin Azevedo gets a step on a defender and goes high glove-side on Jan Laco at 15:08 to make it a 2-1 game. However, Evgeny Dadonov pots his seventh of the playoffs into an empty net, and Donbass skates to the 3-1 win. SERIES TIED AT 2-2.

GAME FIVE: The series shifted back to the Czech Republic as Prague returned home with the split to make this series a best-of-three. Could they put the pressure on Donbass? They did in the first period as Michal Repik circled out of the corner to the hash marks and ripped a wrister past Michael Leighton to put Lev up 1-0. Lev would double that lead at the 12:36 mark when Jiri Novotny's shot appeared to be tipped by Patrik Zackrisson, but the goal would be awarded to Novotny's shot from the half-boards for the 2-0 lead and Michael Leighton would swap spots with Jan Laco on the bench. 2:32 into the second period, Donbass gets one back on a weird play. With a Prague defenceman hurt, the officials allow the play to continue, and Dmitry Kagarlitsky's wrist shot from the slot beats Vehanen to cut the deficit to one goal. Both teams continued to put chances on net, but Patrik Zackrisson would ice the game with nine seconds to play as Lev takes the 3-1 victory. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 3-2.

GAME SIX: As the series shifted back to Bratislava, Donbass has their backs against the wall. Lev looked to close out the series tonight, so you knew both teams were going to bring it! The goaltenders were hot as neither Jan Laco nor Atte Engren allowed a goal through the first two periods despite there being numerous opportunities. It would take a powerplay opportunity for the game's opening goal to be scored, and it came at 9:25 of the third period! Ondrej Nemec's wrist shot from the point eludes Laco with traffic in front, and Lev was out in front by the 1-0 score! Engren would do the rest as he stops all 20 shots fired his way for the 1-0 victory! LEV PRAGUE WINS 4-2.

Lev Prague becomes the first non-Russian team to advance to the Conference Finals of the KHL's Gagarin Cup Playoffs, and will meet the surprising Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for the right to play for Russian hockey's highest honor!

EAST - #1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk vs. #6 Sibir Novosibirsk

Magnitogorsk has been nothing short of impressive in playing prototypical playoff hockey, winning one-goal games and showing just the right balance of offence and defence. Sibir will need to bring the same plucky game they used to beat Ak Bars Kazan where they capitalized on mistakes and turnovers if they hope to beat the Eastern Conference's best team.

GAME ONE: The home squad wouldn't waste any time in opening the game with a goal. With Sibir down a man, Sergei Mozyakin fired a pass from the half-boards through two Sibir defenders that found Jan Kovar streaking to the net where he converted for his sixth goal of the playoffs at 6:43 for the early 1-0 Metallurg lead. The two teams would trade changes for the next 35 minutes until Mozyakin's spin pass back to Danis Zaripov in the slot at 1:01 of the third period was one-timed by Zaripov past Mikko Koskinen for his fifth of the playoffs and the 2-0 Metallurg lead. However, Sibir wasn't done just yet. Konstantin Alexeyev one-timed a loose puck in the high slot past Vasily Koshechkin to make it 2-1 with 8:57 to play. Just 1:48 later, defenceman Ivan Lekomtsev took a pass across the ice and somehow found enough room from a bad angle to go high glove-side on Koshechkin to tie the game at 2-2! No additional goals through the next seven minutes meant we were off to overtime where a powerplay in the extra frame would net us a winner!
Sergei Mozyakin's one-timer on the cross-crease pass with Koskinen down-and-out was the winner as Metallurg takes Game One by the 3-2 overtime score! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Metallurg had the fans happy early again in this one at nearly the exact same time as the previous game. With Tim Brent sent off for interference, the Sibir defencemen cough up a puck off a face-off in the defensive zone, and Dmitry Kazionov had no trouble tucking the loose puck behind Koskinen for the shorthanded goal at 6:29 and the 1-0 lead. We move to the second period where Sibir struck early. Just 44 seconds in with the man-advantage, Dmitry Monya whacked home a rebound off a point shot, and the score was knotted at 1-1. 2:23 later, Metallurg responds with their own powerplay as Francis Pare put a wrist shot past a completely-screened Mikko Koskinen, and Mettalurg was back up 2-1. Special teams were deadly for Metallurg on this day as Sergei Mozyakin ripped home a one-timer at 15:02 from a Danis Zaripov cross-ice pass, and Magnitogorsk was up a pair of goals. At the 10:55 mark of the third period, Dmitry Monya made things interesting as he broke down the left wing into the face-off circle and fired a wrister past Koshechkin to make it a 3-2 game. But Koshechkin was up to the task and Metallurg held the fort as they took Game Two by the 3-2 score. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 2-0.

GAME THREE: With the series returning to Novosibirsk, Sibir needed a win to try to salvage the series. Both goaltenders played incredibly in this game. Sibir would open the scoring on powerplay 12:50 into the game as Dmitry Kugryshev's cross-ice pass to the far post to a pinching Ivan Lekomtsev put the home side up 1-0. Both goalies would match each other save for save over the forty minutes that followed the Sibir goal, but Metallurg would finally crack the goose egg in the third period. In a wild scramble at 13:31, Yaroslav Khabarov's one-timer from the point on a loose puck eluded Koskinen, and Metallurg had evened the score at 1-1! With the goalies playing as they are, you know where we were headed. However, overtime would only last 2:11.
Talk about a horrible way to lose! Koskinen made the save, but the puck went in off one of the defender or Denis Platonov for the overtime winner, giving Metallurg the 2-1 overtime win! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 3-0.

GAME FOUR: With Metallurg having a stranglehold on the series, it was do-or-die from here on in for Sibir. And things didn't start well as Evgeny Grigorenko found Danis Zaripov with a cross-ice pass jus 5:42 into the game, and Zaripov made no mistake in putting Metallurg up 1-0. 4:04 later, Sibir tied the game on the powerplay when Ivan Lekomtsev teed up a puck from the point that found the back of the net past Koshechkin. However, Metallurg would take the lead into the dressing room when Sergei Mozyakin got loose behind the Sibir defence and beat Koskinen glove-side with just 58 seconds in the period. 9:37 into the second period saw Mozyakin use that patented cross-ice one-timer to beat Koskinen - this time shorthanded - to put Metallurg up 3-1. We'll jump ahead to the third period where Dmitry Kugryshev take the cross-crease pass for the easy tap-in to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, Metallurg went into lock-down mode after that as Koshechkin closed the door and the series with the 3-2 in in Game Four. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK WINS 4-0.

EAST - #2 Barys Astana vs. #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa

Barys Astana comes into the series as one of the more impressive teams in the KHL this season, but meet up with a team in Salavat Yulaev Ufa who recorded as many points as they did. While the seedings may indicate one team being better than the other, this series should be fairly even with the winner being a toss-up.

GAME ONE: Barys got the home crowd into the game early as some nice passing put the home side on the board. Brandon Bochenski dropped a pass to Andrei Gavrilin who fired a pass to a breaking Mike Lundin, and Lundin's shot found room past Andrei Vasilevsky in the Salavat net for the 1-0 lead just 2:29 into the game! We'll jump to the second period with Salavat on the powerplay at 13:21. Dmitry Makarov floated into the face-off circle with the puck as he looked for a pass, and instead fired a wrist shot over the glove of Vitaly Yeremeyev to tie the game at 1-1. 2:11 into the third, Alexei Kaigorodov scored from nearly the same spot with a shot on the blocker side past Yeremeyev, and Salavat had the 2-1 advantage. With 3:32 to play, Salavat made a poor clearing attempt out of their own zone as Maxim Semyonov knocked the puck down. His shot from the point was deflected by Nikolai Antropov in front of the net, and we were headed to overtime in a 2-2 deadlock. It would only take 1:17 to determine a winner.
Former NHLer Nikita Filatov cleans up the hard work done by Teemu Hartikainen, and Salavat takes Game One by the 3-2 overtime score. SALAVAT YULAEV UFA LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: After losing Game One, Barys needed a big effort to split the games played in Kazakhstan. Things didn't start well as Salavat they the scoreboard first at 11:50 into the game. While on the powerplay, Dmitry Makarov threw a cross-crease backhander to a wide-open Andrei Zubarev who made no mistake in putting Salavat up 1-0. 3:52 later, Yegor Dubrovsky picked off a pass at center ice as he came off the bench, and he teed it up just across the blue line that eluded Yeremeyev, and Salavat had a 2-0 lead. Barys will cut the deficit to one goal before the end of the period as Brandon Bochenski spotted Kristian Kudroc sneaking in from the point, and Kudroc's shot from the slot made it a 2-1 game at the 17:29 mark. 12:11 into the second period, Barys was on the powerplay when a poor clearing attempt landed right on the stick of Konstantin Rudenko who buried it past Vasilevsky to tie the game at 2-2. Barys would take the lead in the final minute of the period as a face-off win back to Cam Barker ended up in the back of the net off a Barker slapshot with 56 seconds to play. Andrei Gavrilin would make it 4-2 for Barys at the 6:42 mark of the third period, and Dustin Boyd would ice it with 28 seconds left in the game into the empty net. Barys Astana wins Game Two 5-2. SERIES TIED AT 1-1.

GAME THREE: With the series shifting to Ufa and it being a best-of-five series now, Salavat had a great opportunity with three homes game. They needed to win at least one at home in the next two games, and they would get off to a good start just 10:39 in as Yegor Dubrovsky scored on a rebound off his own shot on a breakaway to put the home squad up 1-0. 4:55 later while on the powerplay, Denis Khlystov fed Andrei Zubarev in the slot, and he wired home the powerplay goal for the 2-0 Salavat lead. 4:59 into the second period saw Salavat go up three goals as Igor Mironov one-timed the Alexei Kaigorodov from the hash marks. Dmitry Upper was the recipient of a great Konstantin Romanov feed in the slot at the 18:49 mark, and Salavat's lead was down to 3-1. And with one second left in the period, Brandon Bochenski's one-timer from Dustin Boyd trickled through Vasilevsky's five-hole to make it a 3-2 game after forty minutes. 8:09 into the third period, Arturs Kulda's point shot is deflected in front of Yeremeyev by Teemu Hartikainen, and the puck finds the back of the net for the 4-2 Salavat lead. Antti Pihlstrom's empty-netter with 55 seconds left gave Salavat the 5-2 win. SALAVAT YULAEV UFA LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: Both teams had chances in the opening forty minutes of this game, but all of the scoring would come in the third period. Igor Mironov's wrist shot from the high slot just 1:56 into the final frame put Salavat up 1-0. Nigel Dawes scores on a play that looked a lot like Mironov's goal as he ripped a wrist shot from the high slot past Vasilevsky to even the game at 1-1 with 5:26 to play. With 2:12 to play, Teemu Hartikaninen's pass to the slot is redirected by Dmitry Makarov as the Salavat powerplay expires, but Salavat goes up 2-1. Barys will not go quietly, though, as Dmitry Upper whacked a puck sent wide by Mike Lundin between Vasilevsky's legs from a sharp angle with ten seconds to play, and this game would be off to overtime! 5:03 into the extra frame, we'd have ourselves a winner.
That slash by Konstantin Rudenko gave Salavat the chance they needed, and Kirill Koltsov put the noose firmly around Barys' collective necks with his overtime goal for the 3-2 Salavat win. SALAVAT YULAEV UFA LEADS 3-1.

GAME FIVE: Barys Astana returned home needed to win three in a row, so it all started with tonight's game. Konstantin Rudenko would make the home crowd happy as he picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and got it past Andrei Vasilevsky before he could get tight to the post for the 1-0 Astana lead. At 14:56, Ivan Vishnevsky picked up the loose puck off a rebound in the slot, and he fired it past Vitaly Yeremeyev to even the game at 1-1. We jump to the 17:01 mark of the second period where Brandon Bochenski sets up Dustin Boyd for the one-timer, and Barys was back on top by a 2-1 advantage. Yeremeyev wouldn't need any other support as he stopped all but the Vishnevsky shot on this night for the 2-1 Barys win. SALAVAT YULAEV UFA LEADS 3-2.

GAME SIX: Salavat returned home with a chance to close out the series, and they started the night off right. Just 3:39 into the game while on the powerplay, Alexei Kaigorodov picked up a loose puck in the corner and spotted Ivan Vishnevsky cruising into the slot. Pass, shot, and powerplay goal later, and Salavat had the 1-0 lead. At the 12:45 mark, Konstantin Rudenko found Evgeny Blokhin at the top of the face-off circle, and he hammered a one-timer past Vasilevsky to even the score at 1-1. 2:45 into the third period, Arturs Kulda's point shot on the powerplay was stopped by Yeremeyev, but the rebound was tapped out front by Dmitry Makarov where Igor Mirnov put the biscuit in the basket, and Salavat had the 2-1 lead. Salavat would make it 3-1 when Anton Slepyshev's rather innocent wrist shot from the face-off circle handcuffed Yeremeyev high on the glove-side. Barys would press as time wound down. With 3:36 remaining, Nigel Dawes picked up the puck on the half-boards on the powerplay, wheeled into the slot, and fired home a goal to make it 3-2 for Salavat. However, Salavat would bend but not break as they held on for the 3-2 victory. SALAVAT YULAEV UFA WINS 4-2.

Top-ranked Magnitogorsk meets fourth-seeded Salavat Yulaev Ufa with a berth to the Gagarin Cup Final on the line. Magnitogorsk has looked dangerous throughout these playoffs, but Ufa has been opportunistic in knocking off both Barys and Torpedo. While it may look like a mismatch on the outset, Ufa could surprise Metallurg if they let up for one second.

Both conference finals are underway already, so we'll update the KHL Playoffs later this week. Needless to say, the action is heating up in Russia!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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