On March 2, Ak Bars started the first round of the playoffs with a win over Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) in Kazan by a score of 4:1.
Both teams started the match dynamically, but Ak Bars played more offensively: first, Kirill Petrov sent a good pass to Patrice Cormier, and a little later, Matthew Frattin netted the first Kazan goal in this playoff with a wrist shot. Almost immediately after the goal, Justin Azevedo joined the attack with a powerful shot on 2 on 1, Konstantin Barulin coped. Neftekhimik responded with a sharp shot by Rafael Bikmullin into the near corner, Timur Bilyalov saved. In the period midway, Emil Galimov extended the lead of Ak Bars, capitalizing on the breakaway 1 on 0. Though, the visitors quickly got one goal back − Marat Khairullin scored. Artyom Galimov’s forward line came up with a cool attack: Stanislav Galiyev was sprung for a shot, but he was stopped at the last moment. In the end of the period, Neftekhimik could have tied up − Ildar Shiksatdarov failed to score on a breakaway.
In the beginning of the second stanza, White broke away on the slot, but the forward of Neftekhimik has been stopped. Frattin responded with a cool chance – the Canadian played with Galiyev and sent a puck from the faceoff circle, the puck hit the crossbar. White was the mucker in the team of Nizhnekamsk – another shot has been turned aside by Bilyalov, and Mikael Wikstrand did not let tapping in. In the midway, a melee broke out in the center: former teammates Emil Galimov and Pavel Poryadin flung together, the fight turned out to be very short. Albert Yarullin, Viktor Tikhonov and Esse Virtanen played a great attack − the Finn was brought to the final shot, Barulin coped. The teams played on the power play after Ziyat Paigin and Artyom Lukoyanov were penalized: the Kazan special teams were more active, and Nizhnekamsk could even concede on the power play – Nikita Lyamkin joined the attack and could not tap in the puck into an empty net.
Ak Bars started the third period with a goal − Mikhail Glukhov played perfectly and knocked the puck into the empty net. Kazan team continued to pressure: several scoring opportunities were created on the slot, Frattin took a turnaround shot. Neftekhimik came up with a couple of scoring opportunities, Khairullin had a great chance, the puck went wide. Sometimes Nizhnekamsk attacked dangerously: Bilyalov made three saves in a row, Lukoyanov blocked a hard a shot. The home team's counterattack was very dangerous – Tikhonov left the puck to Stepan Sannikov, whose shot was blocked by the defensemen. Kazan got another opportunity to capitalize on the man-advantage after the penalty of Jonas Enlund and did it: Galiyev assisted to Frattin, the Canadian shot into an empty net. 4:1 − Ak Bars emerged victorious in the first match of the quarter-final of the East.
Ak Bars will continue the series on March 4 in Kazan at 19:00. Tickets are available online, Tatneft Arena ticket offices and Kassir.ru.
Artyom Galimov was named the best newcomer of the season in the KHL18 May 2020 18 0
Timur Bilyalov − the best goaltender of the season in the KHL18 May 2020 13 0
Mikhail Fisenko has extended his contract with Ak Bars12 May 2020 13 0
Danis Zaripov has extended his contract with Ak Bars12 May 2020 16 0
Andrey Pedan signed a new contract with Ak Bars12 May 2020 15 0
Kirill Petrov remains in Ak Bars12 May 2020 14 0