Tuesday, 14 March 2017

KHL - Playoffs - Round 1 - Traktor Chelyabinsk v Barys Astana - Barys Win Series 4-2

Game 1 - Traktor v Barys 2-5 - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An emphatic victory for Barys turned the seedings upside down, and saw a new KHL playoff record for the fastest goal. The visitor suffered a blow before the game with the news that Brandon Bochenski would be unavailable for the post-season opener. But the Kazakhs’ offense shrugged off his absence with a blistering start to the game that produced three goals in the first 10 minutes, starting after just 11 seconds. It was a record-breaker. A crunching hit from Maxim Semyonov in center ice gave Konstantin Pushkaryov the puck and he fired a wrist shot into the left-hand angle to open the scoring. Traktor’s evening quickly got worse. Alexei Kruchinin’s shot was charged down, and Nigel Dawes collected the loose puck and went through unopposed to make it 2-0. A double minor penalty on Vitaly Kravtsov gave Barys the chance to make it 3-0. Kevin Dallman’s shot crashed back off the boards, and Dustin Boyd was there to force the rebound into the net. The clock showed 9:46, and Barys was already well on the way to becoming the first team in this year’s playoff to upset the seeding and claim a road win. Things did not improve for Traktor. The middle session brought two further goals. Brendan Shinnimin made it 4-0 on the power play in the 22nd minute, ending Pavel Francouz’ evening. Then Vladimir Markelov finished off a lovely passing move to score on Vasily Demchenko for Barys’ fifth in the 33rd. Kravtsov and Yury Petrov got third-period consolation goals for Traktor, the latter despite an appeal to the video official from the away bench, but the day belonged to Barys.
Game 2 - Traktor v Barys 5-1 - Friday, February 24, 2017

Barys was the only team to pick up an away win from the first three days of playoff action, piling up the pressure on Traktor ahead of the second meeting in this Eastern Conference series. On Wednesday, the home team’s downfall was a lack of concentration early in the game: conceding after just 11 seconds and slipping to a 0-5 deficit by the 33rd minute left Traktor with too much to do on the night. But a third-period revival saw two unanswered goals, and offered some hope for the rest of the series. Tonight, some of those lessons were learned. Traktor shaded a goalless first period, rarely allowing Barys a chance to get inside the defense and threaten Pavel Francouz in the home goal. Then, in the middle stanza, the host was dominant. Two goals, a 14-2 advantage on the shot count and, apparently a commanding position in the game. Alexei Kruchinin fired Traktor ahead in the 34thminute, a powerful one-timer from the face-off spot after Paul Szczechura’s diagonal pass out from behind the net found the gaps in the Barys PK. Two days earlier, Barys led 5-0 at this stage in the game; today Traktor was 1-0 in front.
Alexander Sharov made it 2-0 in the 39th minute, beating Henrik Karlsson in a one-on-one break after Dmitry Pestunov’s pass from deep in his own zone beat Barys’ cross-bench line change to find Sharov on the blue line. The video officials checked for offside and ruled that Sharov was good to go.
Then came the nerve-jangler. A power play for Barys, which had spent much of the session shorthanded, saw Martin St.Pierre convert a Nigel Dawes pass to halve the deficit. The visitor only managed two shots in the second period, but still had a priceless goal to put it right back in the game. Penalty trouble finished off Barys, though. In total the Kazakhs picked up 20 PIMs in the game, and a double minor for Corey Trivino proved decisive. Artyom Penkovsky got his first career playoff goal to convert the first power play, getting off the mark in some style with a flicked backhand finish. Trivino had barely left the box when the vastly experienced Maxim Yakutsenya added a fourth before shooting the fifth into an empty net. The 36-year-old forward last got a post-season goal for Traktor in 2013, helping a young team to the Gagarin Cup final. Today he set the seal on a victory that revives the dream of another run deep into the playoffs.

Game 3 - Barys v Traktor 3-1 - Sunday, February 26, 2017

Barys regained the initiative in this series thanks to two goals from Nigel Dawes. The Canadian forward took his post-season tally to three, further cementing his status as the KHL’s all-time leading goalscorer among imports and wiping out the lead that Dmitry Pestunov gave the visitor in the first period.
Pestunov’s marker came barely 30 seconds before the end of the first period, and the power play strike was just reward for Traktor’s dominance of the opening stanza. It wasn’t without an element of good fortune, though: the forward slung the puck across the front of the net from a wide position and benefited from a kind bounce off goalie Henrik Karlsson’s stick to open the scoring. Then Dawes got going. A Barys power play early in the second period handed him the chance to tie the game. An attack from deep seemed to have broken down in the Traktor zone, but Konstantin Pushkaryov recycled the puck to Dawes who shot home from a central position. Early in the third period, Barys’ captain did it again to put his team in front. Collecting a loose puck in center ice, he rushed to the left-hand circle and whipped a wicked shot over Pavel Francouz’ glove and inside the near post for an unassisted score. Traktor looked for an equalizer, but Barys worked hard to limit the visitor’s sights of the net before wrapping the victory late on with an empty-net goal from Corey Trivino. The Kazakh team has the edge in this series, and with a second home game coming on Tuesday, Barys now has high hopes of winning a playoff series for only the second time in nine attempts.

Game 4 - Barys v Traktor 1-2 OT - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This intriguing series is deadlocked once again after Traktor dug deep to find an overtime winner in Astana. Alexei Petrov got the decisive goal in the 66th minute, handing his team a vital victory to square the situation ahead of Thursday’s game in Chelyabinsk. Alexander Tridchikov advanced to the point and smashed in a shot that Henrik Karlsson could only beat up into the air. Derek Roy recovered possession and fed Petrov who had taken up a dangerous position in front of the net and was free of any defenseman. The finish was emphatic, the goal decisive.
Earlier, Traktor took the lead midway through the game thanks to Paul Szczechura. Maxim Yakutsenya carved out the opening, drawing the Barys defense across the face of goal as he broke down the left channel and slalomed between opposing players. Then, rather than shoot in full sight of Karlsson, he slipped the puck to the wide open Szczechura who deceived the goalie with some stick handling and pinged a shot into the net. But Barys, backed by another big crowd in Astana, came out for the second period and produced a dominant display. The home team was 14-2 up on shots, and got its reward through Nigel Dawes’ fourth goal of the playoffs. Dawes missed a great chance with a penalty shot after being fouled by Kirill Koltsov, but needed just seven seconds to put the record straight. Barys won back possession right away, Dawes exchanged passes with Kevin Dallman at the point and rushed into a shooting position in the left-hand circle. From there he produced a finish to beat Pavel Francouz and level the scores with seven minutes to play. This time, though, it wasn’t enough to salvage a result from the game.

Game 5 - Traktor v Barys 1-2 OT - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Barys returns to Kazakhstan on Saturday knowing that a home win will wrap up this series and see the team progress to the Conference Semi-finals for only the second time in its history. Another hard-fought game between these two rivals needed overtime to produce a winner, and Martin St. Pierre came up with the crucial goal in the 71st minute. The French-Canadian did it all himself, picking up the puck deep in his own zone, surging down the right channel and firing a shot through Konstantin Klimontov’s legs to beat the unsighted Pavel Francouz from the face-off spot. Traktor appealed to the video officials, claiming offside, but the replays showed that St. Pierre clearly took the puck into the end zone before his team-mates could catch him. It was the second high-quality Barys goal of the day; earlier Konstantin Pushkaryov gave his team a 13th-minute lead after Nigel Dawes and Dustin Boyd moved the puck sweetly around the Traktor net to create a shooting lane. That lead did not last; Traktor levelled midway through the game on a power play. Artyom Borodkin got the goal, firing home a one-timer from the deep slot off a Kirill Koltsov pass. At that stage, the home team seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the game, but as the minutes ticked by and the price of giving up a goal increased, both teams became more cautious. The third period saw few opportunities at either end, although Dawes might have won it late on when he got a good look at Francouz only to find the Czech goalie on top of his game. Instead it went into overtime, where St. Pierre found the winning goal.
Game 6 - Barys v Traktor 2-1 - Saturday, March 04, 2017

Barys came from behind to win the game and the series, progressing to the Conference Semi-finals for only the second time in its history. The winner arrived on a power play early in the third period, created by a moment of magic from Konstantin Pushkaryov. The forward, who began the series by scoring the KHL’s fastest ever playoff goal, finished it with a sublime no-look pass across the face of Pavel Francouz’ net to present Dustin Boyd with the straightforward task of putting the puck into an open net. Barys was in front, and it would hold that lead until the hooter. Traktor, playing for its playoff future, made the brighter start and took a deserved lead in the 10th minute with a power play goal from Kirill Koltsov. The veteran defenseman turned circles on the right flank before spotting the chance to advance towards the face-off spot. As Yegor Shalapov backed off, undecided whether to pressure the puck or cut off a pass to another forward at the near post, Koltsov made the choice irrelevant with a powerful shot to beat Henrik Karlsson and open the scoring. Traktor continued to have the better of the opening session, building on its livelier start to ensure that the most dangerous incidents happened around Karlsson’s net. But the visitor was unable to extend its lead, and soon paid the price. If the first period was very much Traktor’s, the middle session swung back in the host’s favor. Barys dominated the play, generating a 16-4 shot count and tying the game through Vladimir Markelov’s 23rd-minute goal. The 29-year-old picked up his second playoff goal of the season, applying the backhand to a Kevin Dallman feed from the point to beat Francouz from close range. The home side may feel it should have extended that lead: Dallman hit the piping and Francouz made several smart saves to keep the scores level until the second intermission. The third period saw Boyd’s early goal separate the teams, but Traktor had its chances to respond. A double minor penalty on Pushkaryov handed the visitor the initiative, and Karlsson made a fine save to deny Paul Szczechura from point-blank range as Barys struggled to kill that penalty. But the host held firm, and when Szczechura was foiled again after a great chance in the last minute, the home crowd was already celebrating.

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