Dynamo Moscow’s 5-2 win over Avangard has sent the Kontinental League final to a winner-takes-all Game 7 clash in Omsk on Wednesday, with the capital team now twice denying its Siberian opponent the chance to secure the title. For the first time in the series, the miserly Avangard defense – missing Anton Belov due to a failed drug test – was picked apart by blistering attacking play from the hosts. Dynamo’s goals came from the always dangerous Gorovikov-Komarov-Anisin line, and also from a moment of individual brilliance by Marek Kvapil.
As on Saturday in Omsk, Dynamo could not have asked for a better start when Leonid Komarov opened the scoring after just 53 seconds of play. Prior to the game the big talking point was how Avangard’s defense would cope with the absence Belov and it was Belov’s replacement, Yury Alexandrov, who was caught off-guard before Konstantin Gorovikov set up Komarov to tap the puck into an open goal.
Avangard was on its heels from the outset, but responded to score on an early attempt attempt – and produced one of the best scoring plays of the final series to date. Alexei Kalyuzhny, a former Dynamo player, delivered a beautiful diagonal, cross-ice pass to pick out the unmarked Martin Skoula sweeping in at the back post to level the score.
But it was still Karri Ramo who was the busier of the goaltenders, and when he gave up a rebound on a Denis Kokarev shot it was Denis Mosalyov who reacted fastest to reinstate Dynamo’s lead. And this season’s stats show that when teams start scoring on Ramo, the Finn’s confidence often takes a knock: by the end of the period a well-struck slap shot from the blueline by Filip Novak whistled over the goalie’s shoulder to make it 3-1.
At the start of the second period Avangard had several great chances to reduce the deficit, but found themselves facing an inspired Alexander Yeryomenko. The goalie was at his best at 25:30 when he stared down Alexander Perezhogin on a one-on-one and recovered to block follow-up efforts from both Nikita Pivtsakin and Roman Cervenka. As the pressure mounted, however, a solo breakaway sent Marek Kvapil down the left side and the Czech forward slalomed his way across the ice and around the net before his shot bounced off Georgijs Pujacs and Karri Ramo on its way into the net to make it 4-1.
But Avangard refused to give up, and after killing a four minute penalty against Kirill Lyamin the visitors took control of the final period. With Dynamo bunkered down in their own zone, Yeryomenko was regularly tested amid a barrage of shots on his goal. Skoula got his second of the game, an uncontestable one-timer from Lyamin’s pass at 51:53, to heighten the tension in the closing moments. However, the Czech ended up on his knees at 58:10 when his error on the blueline gifted the puck to Kvapil, who instantly fired into the net which Ramo had vacated just seconds prior.
With two wins in succession Dynamo head coach Oleg Znarok has set himself up for a Game 7 Gagarin Cup decider for the second time. Two years ago it was his MVD team which was overhauled after coming within a single game of glory: this year, with his squad seemingly enjoying the greater momentum, can Raimo Summanen find a way to keep the Cup in the East?