Wednesday, 15 March 2017
KHL - Playoffs - Round 2 - Metallurg Magnitogorsk v Barys Astana - Metallurg Win Series 4-0
Game 1 - Metallurg v Barys 4-0 - Thursday, March 09, 2017
Metallurg opened its semi-final series with a comfortable victory over Barys, making light of the absence of leading scorer Sergei Mozyakin to settle the game with three goals in the third period. Tomas Filippi, promoted to the first line in place of his team captain, obliged with Magnitka’s crucial second to regain control of the game as Barys threatened an equalizer. The home team went in front in the 11th minute of a stormy opening period. The goal, scored by Oskar Osala, came on a power play when Ivan Kuchin became the sixth player to visit the sin bin in the early stages of the game. Alexander Semin manoeuvred himself into a shooting position and, after Henrik Karlsson made the save, Osala dealt well with the awkwardly bouncing puck to steer it into the net as it looped up onto the slot. But Barys was not about to roll over, despite falling behind at the start of the game. The visitor sought to match its opponent blow for blow, and kept the score to 1-0 until the third period. There were even chances for the Kazakhs to tie the game: early in the final stanza Kevin Dallman tested Vasily Koshechkin from distance before Nigel Dawes fired wide of an unguarded net from a tight angle. Those misses were swiftly punished: Dawes was still shaking his head over his misfortune when Filippi doubled the home lead. Jan Kovar played a perfectly-weighted pass from blue line to blue line and his compatriot raced onto the puck, shrugged off the challenge of Dallman and swept a backhand shot beneath Karlsson’s pads. Four minutes later, it was 3-0. Kovar emerged from the bench just in time to collect Denis Kazionov’s pass and smash a one-timer from the blue line that gave Karlsson no chance. By now the game was all but settled. Barys knew that its hopes of snatching a result from the opening encounter of this series were effectively over. Danis Zaripov still had time to add a fourth, scoring on the power play with 20 seconds left, while Koshechkin completed a shut-out with 30 saves to give the defending champion a decisive start to its semi-final series.
Game 2 - Metallurg v Barys 5-4 OT - Saturday, March 11, 2017
Yaroslav Kosov grabbed an overtime winner for Metallurg, settling a shoot-out between two of the KHL’s top strikers. In regulation, Nigel Dawes scored two fine goals for Barys, only to be outdone by Danis Zaripov’s hat-trick for Magnitka. That left a roller-coaster game tied at 4-4 after 60 minutes, and set the stage for Kosov’s big moment. It came on 68 minutes, wrapping up a strong Metallurg performance in overtime. Evgeny Timkin created the chance, breaking down the right channel and swinging a pass across the ice to the waiting Kosov at the far post. One look at the net was all he needed to beat Henrik Karlsson and secure the win. Regulation time was dominated by Zaripov. He completed his treble in the third period to overturn a 3-2 lead for Barys. The forward’s big day started early, though, giving Metallurg a fifth-minute lead after Jan Kovar’s pass sent him into a duel with visiting goalie Henrik Karlsson. But the second period turned the game on its head as Barys took advantage of a string of penalities to go in ahead at the second intermission. Barely a minute into the middle session, Roman Starchenko’s power play marker tied the scores on the night and gave Barys its first goal in this series. Viktor Antipin reinstated the home team’s advantage with a curious goal midway through the stanza, enjoying a slice of luck as Karlsson fumbled a gently looping shot into his own net. But Metallurg’s lead did not last long. Two goals in a minute saw Barys in front as it cashed in on a passage of four-on-four play. Nigel Dawes deked his way past Jan Kovar on his way to the equalizer, and moments later Marty St. Pierre stunned the home crowd by converting the rebound from Maxim Semyonov’s shot. Zaripov responded with two power play goals, the first created by a superb defense-splitting pass from Sergei Mozyakin, who marked his return to the roster with three assists. The Barys defense did not know how to handle Zaripov’s threat, and paid the price again on 48 minutes when he was left all alone to shoot home the 4-3 goal. That seemed to have ended Barys’ resistance, but Dawes wasn’t done yet. Astana’s own talismanic forward produced another highlight-reel goal. First, he streaked past Chris Lee on the blue line then advanced into open ice before unleashing a devastating wrist shot that left Vasily Koshechkin with no chance. For the visitor, it offered hope of a reprieve and a vision of taking the series back to Kazakhstan with the scores level. But overtime saw Kosov snuff out that illusion to leave Metallurg in an imposing position.
Game 3 - Barys v Metallurg 3-5 - Monday, March 13, 2017
Danis Zaripov rocketed out in front on the post-season scoring charts with yet another hat-trick to help the defending champion maintain its winning streak as this Eastern Conference Semi-final series moved to Astana. Zaripov, who potted a treble in game five of Magnitka’s series against Kunlun Red Star before repeating the trick in Saturday’s overtime victory over Barys took his post-season tally to 11 goals and six assists, putting him out in front in this year’s playoff scoring race. His success also brought up the 50th post-season goal of his career. But it took Magnitka time to take control of this game. The home team, inspired by familiar surroundings, made a lively start and had the better of the opening stanza. However, it failed to turn that edge into goals, inviting Metallurg to take back control as the encounter developed. That man Zaripov made the difference. His two goals in the second period, the first on the wraparound after Alexei Bereglazov’s shot, the second on the power play with a delicate finish off a Jan Kovar feed, turned the game decisively in the visitor’s favor. Barys was still creating chances, but Metallurg was converting them. The third period began with a lifeline for the host: Tomas Filippi’s penalty late in the second enabled Barys to start on the power play, and Dustin Boyd halved the deficit to give the home team hope. But that optimism was ruthlessly dampened. Two more power play chances for Magnitka and two more goals, with Zaripov’s line-mates Sergei Mozyakin and Jan Kovar extending the lead to 4-1. Mozyakin also completed another achievement in his impressive season, picking up his 389th KHL assist to overtake Alexander Radulov’s record. Zaripov completed his treble in the 56th minute, but that was not the end of the goalscoring feats. Boyd matched the Metallurg man’s achievement, grabbing further strikes in the last two minutes. A hat-trick apiece, but victory for Zaripov & Co. Metallurg is now one game away from progressing to the Conference Final yet again; Barys, which has never progressed beyond this stage, needs to launch a comeback for the ages if it is to change that record.
Game 4 - Barys v Metallurg 2-3 OT - Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Last season’s Gagarin Cup winner, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, became the first team to secure its place in the Conference Finals for 2017 after wrapping up a sweep of Barys. An overtime goal from Jan Kovar, Magnitka’s third power play goal of the night, finally saw off a Barys team that was determined to extend the series but fell narrowly short as its season came to a close. The winner came in the 79th minute as Maxim Semyonov sat out a minor penalty for tripping. Chris Lee set the play in motion, moving the puck wide left to Sergei Mozyakin, lurking with intent on the goalline. Mozyakin drilled the puck across the face of the net, and Kovar was on hand at the far post to tap it home and wrap up the series. Metallurg thus became the first team into the Eastern Conference final, dropping just one game in the opening two rounds of playoff action. The Metallurg power play had brought the team to the brink of victory in regulation. Trailing 0-1 to Nigel Dawes’ first-period strike, Magnitka turned the game around in the final stanza. The equalizer came on 46 minutes through the same trio that got the game-winner. Lee kept the puck in play at the point and played a square pass for Mozyakin to flash a shot from the blue line. Kovar had the vital touch in front of the net, deceiving Henrik Karlsson and bringing the visitor level. Then Lee, already the holder of a new KHL record for post-season assists from a defenseman, got his first playoff goal of this campaign to make it 2-1 in the 49th minute. Lee collected an attempted clearance on the blue line, advanced into a shooting position, shaped as if to shoot then continued as space opened up in front of him. Finally, from between the hash marks, he got his shot away to beat Karlsson. But Barys was not ready to give up, and forced overtime thanks to a first ever playoff goal from Nikita Mikhailis. The 21-year-old tied the game at 2-2 in the 52nd minute. He was first to react as the puck looped into the air after Corey Trivino’s shot was blocked, and Mikhailis got his stick to it to wrap up a move that began with Maxim Khudyakov bringing the disk from behind the net and playing a backhand pass into the danger zone.
Once again, the series was following a pattern of a comfortable Metallurg win followed by Barys taking a game to overtime. But once again, the Kazakhs were unable to win it in the extras … and this loss proved fatal for their playoff prospects. Metallurg can now rest until March 24, when it will begin the Eastern Conference Final at home to the winners of the Ak Bars vs Avangard series.