Ak Bars Kazan defeated HC MVD 4-1 today in Balashikha, Russia to take a 2-0 lead in the Kontinental League Gagarin Cup final.
HC MVD came out aggressively to set the early tempo of the game, but in spite of a spirited attack by both teams, the first intermission arrived with the game still scoreless.
With both teams a man down early in the second period, Grigory Panin put Ak Bars on top two minutes into the middle frame. Taking advantage of another power-play opportunity, Dmitry Obukhov scored his second goal of the Gagarin Cup final with less than four minutes remaining to open up a 2-0 lead, which Ak Bars took into the second intermission.
In the third period, Jarkko Immonen capitalized on another power-play opportunity, scoring in the first minute to open up a 3-0 advantage for the defending Gagarin Cup champions.
Martin Strbak put MVD on the board with a power-play goal with 13-plus minutes left in the third, but Ak Bars was able maintain command for the remainder of the match, with Obukhov netting his second goal of the game in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
“Both teams played good, hard hockey,” said Ak Bars coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. “Personally, I liked it. We’ll be ready for more in Kazan.”
Game 3 goes Monday.
The Gagarin Cup, the KHL’s post-season tournament, named for famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, features 16 teams consisting of the top eight teams from the KHL’s Eastern and Western Conferences.