A dramatic overtime-winner from Alexander Perezhogin saw Avangard Omsk take a firm grip on the Kontinental League’s Gagarin Cup final series with the action returning to Omsk on Saturday and the hosts knowing a victory will deliver the top prize. Perezhogin delivered his fourth goal in four games, capitalizing on Alexander Popov’s deflected pass and firing the puck through Alexander Yeryomenko’s five-hole at 68:15, to secure a 2-1 win on the night and a 3-1 series lead for the Siberian team over Dynamo Moscow.
Artyom Chernov, making his first appearance in this season’s playoffs, wasted no time in making an impact as he grabbed the opener for the hosts at 5:22. He slotted home a rebound from two meters out after Janne Jalasvaara’s powerful shot from the left-hand circle was parried across the crease. The relief among the home crowd was immediately apparent: after more than 100 minutes, Karri Ramo’s scoreless streak was over at last.
However, the Finnish wall was not about to crumble. While Avangard struggled to get its attack into gear – save for a chance for Igor Volkov on the power play – Ramo remained a daunting opponent between the pipes. And his reaction stop to deny Dmitry Pestunov, stretching out a glove to turn away a shot from the slot in the last seconds of the first period, showed just why Ramo has become the hottest stopper in the competition.
At the other end, Perezhogin has been a key player throughout this series for Avangard, and he continued his record of a point in every game when he carved up the Dynamo defense to set up Alexander Popov for the equalizer midway through the second period.
A scoreless third period underlined how little separates these two sides: both goaltenders were called into action, but the most dramatic save came in the 58th minute with Yeryomenko – and most people in the arena – knowing little of how the puck stayed out of the net. Alexander Nesterov’s close range effort hit the post and bounced onto the goalie’s back. After a scramble, Maxim Solovyov hacked it to safety, but Dynamo’s reprieve was only temporary.