AK Bars grab KHL finals lead

MVD's coach Oleg Znarok says his side will keep fighting after losing the first game at home to defending champions AK Bars in the Gagarin Cup Final.

Game Two is scheduled for this evening – again in Balashikha – where AK Bars came from behind to win 3-2 last night.

This has been a fairytale season for MVD so far. Against all odds, head coach Oleg Znarok has managed to take his team all the way to the play-off finals.

Standing between MVD and the Gagarin Cup is AK Bars, the defending champion. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov's men have not had an easy route to the championship deciding series either, having upset the likes of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and the regular season champs Salavat Yulaev.

The team from Kazan was also without Russian Olympian Danis Zaripov, who was out with a shoulder injury.

With so much at stake, it was not surprising the game got off to a very cagy start, with shots on goal at an absolute premium.

MVD had a couple of openings on the powerplay, but nothing that looked like seriously testing the AK Bars’ goaltender Petri Vehanen.

The visitors began to come into the contest as the period went on. Jarkko Immonen had, perhaps, the best chance of the first 20 minutes, but the Finn was unable to get on the end of that pass as the teams would go into the interval with the scores tied at 0-0.

The second period, like the first, started with the defenses on top. Six minutes in, and out of nothing, MVD took the lead, as Aleksey Ugarov's slapshot went through traffic, and the puck managed to find a way past Vehanen.

A couple of minutes later, AK Bars would draw level at one apiece, through Aleksey Yemelin, the game was now a lot more open and MVD would re-take the lead 13 minutes into the second on the powerplay.

Pavel Trakhanov fierce strike giving Vehanen little chance to low down to his glove side as MVD led 2-1.

Yet once again the home side was unable to hold on to its advantage. With just a minute to go to the intermission, AK Bars would once again draw level. Niko Kapenen's wrist shot got the game tying goal for the visitors to make the score 2-2.

Finally, the team from Kazan got off to a perfect start in the final period. They would take the lead for the first time in the game, thanks to Dmitry Obukhov's effort which made it 3-2 to AK Bars.

MVD pushed in search of an equalizer, while the visitors had a few chances to extend their lead further, but 3-2 was how it ended.

“The game was pretty hard, but when we got the third goal and took the lead [MVD] didn’t have many chances after that,” Petri Vehanen of AK Bars said.

“It was a quick game with both teams playing in good passing style hockey. They scored – we equalized, they once again went in front, but we responded. It was an interesting and exciting game and I am sure the crowd enjoyed it,” Aleksey Tereschenko, Vehanen’s teammate, commented.

So AK Bars draw first blood in the best of seven series, but MVD will have the perfect chance to draw level when the two teams play Game Two on Friday.