Defending champions Ak Bars Kazan defeated HC MVD 7-1 Sunday in Kazan to force a seventh and deciding game in the Kontinental League Gagarin Cup final.
Ak Bars won the first two games of the best-of-seven final round, but had subsequently lost three straight matches, as HC MVD, who have been dubbed by press and fans alike the “Cinderella team” of the KHL post-season, assumed control of the series. Ak Bars sent a message today, however, that they won’t be giving up their crown without a fight. The Snow Leopards applied consistent pressure and utilized their team speed, resulting in seven different players scoring to lead a balanced attack.
After scoring a pair of goals in the first period to take an early 2-0 lead, Ak Bars eliminated all drama in the match by lighting the lamp three more times in the second period. Undeterred by the significant deficit, HC MVD came out strong in the third. Channeling the energy of their home crowd, Ak Bars was able to tag on two more goals, however, before HC MVD scored a moral victory by breaking up the shutout in the less than two minutes to play.
Ak Bars defender Ilya Nikulin, who finished with a goal and an assist, promised to keep the momentum going in Game 7: “We will come to the seventh game with exactly the same attitude.”
The KHL Gagarin Cup finals conclude Tuesday with Game 7 in Balashikha.