On March 6, Ak Bars earned the third win over Neftekhimik in the playoff series with a score of 2:1 in overtime – the matchup took place in Nizhnekamsk.
The opponents started the match dynamically, the home team managed a fast start – already in the first minute Timur Bilyalov had to join the game, the goalie coped. Ak Bars responded with a rush by Stepan Sannikov and a sharp shot by Justin Azevedo: in the first case, the forward was blocked to get to the puck, and the Kazan captain's shot went high. Neftekhimik's players were very charged for this match and rushed on the goal crease even when Bilyalov had already stoned the puck – this provoked a couple of skirmishes. Nikita Dynyak missed a great chance: his shot from the slot was turned aside by Konstantin Barulin. Matthew Frattin had another opportunity to open the scoring when on a breakaway – he failed to score, but drew a penalty for his team. When capitalizing on a man-advantage Kazan came up with a couple of good shots, the goalie and Nizhnekamsk’s special team coped. At the end of the period, Neftekhimik got the opportunity to play on 5 on 4, though goalless.
Ak Bars in the second stanza played far more offensively – already in the beginning Barulin made a beautiful double save. Immediately, the visitors managed a 3-on-2 attack, the puck after Azevedo's shot went just over the crossbar. Another home team’s attack was stopped by Bilyalov, but ended up with a penalty of Artyom Galimov, Neftekhimik almost conceded on this power play − Andrei Pedan in the counterattack took a perfect shot, but Barulin moved the goal cage, thereby waving off Ak Bars’s goal and got 2- minute penalty. Neftekhimik got a chance to capitalize on the man-advantage when Albert Yarullin was whistled, and Zach Mitchell could have opened the scoring – Bilyalov was dead set against it. Timur Khafizov tried to beat Bilyalov a minute later, and again the Kazan netminder played strong. For 8 seconds before the end of the period, Dmitry Voronkov drew a penalty for Kazan that had to be played after the break.
Viktor Tikhonov tried to open the scoring on the power play − the shot turned out to be good, but Barulin was ready for this. But he didn’t rescue his team when Emil Galimov tapped in Yarullin’s shot with a backhander just under the crossbar. Ak Bars continued to pressure – the second goal could have been scored by Kirill Petrov, but his pass behind the goal was stopped by Barulin. Neftekhimik attacked mainly from the blue line: Khairullin's shot went wide of goal, Bilyalov saved another shot. 3 minutes before the end of the third period, Neftekhimik managed to hit an equalizer– Ildar Shiksatdarov took a point-blank shot. Both teams had chances in overtime, but the goalies kept both teams in the game. Emil Galimov's shot in the middle of the first overtime decided the game – his two goals bring a win to Ak Bars in his home-town.
The next match of the series will take place in Nizhnekamsk on March 8 at 17:00 Moscow time.
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