Lokomotiv Yaroslavl defeated Ak Bars Kazan 3-2 Wednesday on the Snow Leopards home ice to move one win away from clinching the inaugural KHL Gagarin Cup. Lokomotiv’s third win of the best-of-seven series followed a penalty-free game by the two teams battling for the KHL’s top prize.
Ak Bars got on the board first when Lokomotiv goalkeeper Georgy Gelashvili couldn’t control Alexei Morozov’s shot in the seventh minute and Danis Zaripov was able to bury the rebound past Gelashvili.
Lokomotiv then tied the score in the 23rd minute when Alexei Kudashov beat Frederick Norrena. After almost 20 minutes of scoreless hockey, Lokomotiv’s Alexei Mikhnov scored in the 42nd minute and started a flurry of goals that would determine the contest.
The Snow Leopards’ Dmitry Obukhov pulled Ak Bars even again in 44th minute when he found himself all alone in front of Gelashvili and hammered home the score, making it 2-2. Just three minutes later, however, Lokomotiv’s Joseph Vasicek put forth a great individual effort to slide the puck under Norrena, putting the visitors in front 3-2.
Ak Bars had ample time and several good opportunities to knot the score, but the visitors from Yaroslavl were able to withstand the pressure and secure the victory.
Game 6 of the KHL Gagarin Cup finals will be played Friday April 10th in Yaroslavl.
The Gagarin Cup, the KHL’s post-season tournament, named for famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, features 16 teams consisting of the KHL’s four division winners and 12 other teams with the best overall regular season records.
The first two rounds of the KHL’s Gagarin Cup are best-of-five games, while the semifinals and final are best-of-seven games. Game 7 of the final, if necessary, will occur on April 12, the anniversary of Gagarin’s mission into space.