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Home Main Bouchet’s double and three goals in nine minutes: How Avangard took on Metallurg and CSKA came back from 0-2 down to beat Lokomotiv
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Bouchet’s double and three goals in nine minutes: How Avangard took on Metallurg and CSKA came back from 0-2 down to beat Lokomotiv

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After the loss in the first game of the series, Ilya Vorobyov did a little restructuring. They put forwards Aleksandr Burmistrov and Andrei Chibisov, who had not demonstrated themselves very well two nights before, on injured reserve and replaced them with Anatoli Nikontsev and Josh Curry. That was quite an adventurous decision. So far, the Canadian has only appeared in two games in this year’s Gagarin Cup, but both the player himself and his teammates are unlikely to mention that fact. “Metallurg lost with a total score of 3-10, he didn’t score a single point and his assist was negative 4.

As it turned out later, Vorobiev’s turnover had an impact on the result. But after the first 20 minutes, the “Magnitka” coach was obviously worried about something else, namely how to get back the deficit of three pucks. Their defense was literally bursting at the seams, which was skillfully used by Avangard. On the sixth minute, Fedor Malykhin found Pavel Dedunov at the perimeter and helped him hit the goal, and less than eight minutes later, the penalty killers, renowned for their effectiveness, had their say (prior to this game, the Omsk club had a 29.1% field advantage). The Hawks’ offense went on a sustained scoring spree, which ended with a field goal by Alex Broadhurst – his first in the playoffs.

Like his teammate, the American shot into the near corner. Even then, Vorobiev might have thought about replacing his goalie, as Pasquale’s play on the day was clearly not good. The final straw came when he missed the puck 103 seconds before the buzzer. Chistyakov’s powerful shot was blocked by the bar, and Reed Bouchet finished off a well-timed shot by Vladimir Tkachev. And although one can hardly blame the goalkeeper of Magnitogorsk in this goal, 66.6% of saves during the period is a good reason to move to the bench.

After the break, Vasili Koshechkin took over on the Steelers’ bench. Perhaps the appearance of the experienced veteran, along with the play-by-play in the locker room, caused a surge in activity. The visitors scored 21 shots during that stretch alone (going forward, Avangard made 23 throughout the game) and managed to surprise Vasily Demchenko twice. Pavel Akolzin hit the hosts’ goal with a shot from a sharp angle, and then Grigory Dronov demonstrated the power of his shot. Magnitogorsk won the throw-in in a foreign zone and found the defender, who shot under the crossbar.

Two goals in 121 seconds not only allowed the Metallurg hockey players to believe in themselves and pick up the pace, but also made their opponents nervous. In the remaining time Avangard harassed Koshechkin only six times and came to its senses only in the final period. His opponents, who suddenly earned an unnecessary suspension for holding his stick, helped him in that endeavor. However, as soon as Arkhip Nekolenko returned from the penalty box, the Magnitogorsk players restored parity. Nikita Korostelev burst into the Omsk zone at speed and hit the corner.

It seemed that the morale-challenged visitors would overwhelm the home team and even the score, but Curry got his teammates going. The Canadian, returned from the reserves, slammed his stick in Sergey Tolchinsky’s face in the middle zone and was sent to the penalty bench. Only 123 seconds later, Avangard scored for the fourth time. Tkachev acted as an assistant again and Boucher contributed his double-double.

Metallurg tried to put pressure on Avangard’s goal, but failed. During the last minute, the Magnitogorsk players had several opportunities to win the throw-in in the opponent’s zone, but each time they conceded on the point. Mikhail Kravets’ wards held a minimal advantage and took the lead for the second home meeting in a row.

 

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The first game in the series between CSKA and Lokomotiv left mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Army team scored twice and was successful, while on the other hand they lost to their opponent hand-to-hand and held on only thanks to incredible saves by Adam Reideborn. Overall, the Swede made 35 saves, earning comparisons to Vladislav Tretiak himself.

One might have assumed that in their second home game, Sergei Fedorov would urge his men to be more active and go number one. But that didn’t change. “Lokomotiv dominated again and attacked the net four times more often in the first period (17-4). If two days ago that paid no dividends for Igor Nikitin’s team, this time they took the lead in the opening frame. The Army team once again clamped down on their shot and couldn’t prevent Denis Alekseev from firing a long-range shot. Reideborn couldn’t react because of traffic and extend his streak.

CSKA needed to pick up the pace and play some championship hockey, but they failed to do so neither after the missed shot nor after the break. The Red and Blue had enough time to get going for a short period, after which the initiative would again fall to the railroaders. Already in the second period, a suspension nearly put the Muscovites out of sorts. And even though the Yaroslavl team couldn’t capitalize on the lack of restraint from Nikolai Makarov or Maksim Sorkin, they scored on even-strength shots. Maxim Shalunov orchestrated a counterattack, and Maxim Berezkin left Reideborn stranded.

CSKA’s position was critical. “Lokomotiv still looked better, shot more often and already had a two-point lead. In 52 seconds, however, nothing remained of their advantage. The Army team had only enough time to score twice on Daniil Isayev to restore parity. First, Maksim Mamin completed his pass from the flank to the center, and then Darren Dietz dotted down a similar combination. The second goal was preceded by the fall of Sergey Plotnikov, who was playing his 800th game in the KHL. The Russian was injured in a collision with his opponent, but his sacrifice wasn’t in vain. That distracted Rushan Rafikov and allowed the Kazakh-Canadian defender to break through unhindered.

CSKA started the final frame on a wave of success, and as early as the fourth minute, they forced Isayev to capitulate – with the full connivance of the Lokomotiv defenders. The railroaders allowed their opponents to get to their third of the court unimpeded and make a pass to the top five, where Mikhail Grigorenko was most efficient. As in the episode with the second goal, Konstantin Okulov made the pass and thus became the Army team’s leading scorer in the KHL with 283 points.

Fedorov’s squad, as usual, closed up and in the remaining time didn’t think much about counterplay, focusing all day long on keeping their score. And they did all they could. Eight attempts by the Railroaders were blocked, and Reideborn turned away the threat on the remaining 13 occasions. CSKA earned a strong win and moved one step closer to advancing to the Western Conference Finals, 2-0.

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