Intrigue Prevails in Metallurg vs Lev Series of Gagarin Cup Finals

After initial loss at home against Lev (Prague) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) sweepingly won in the second game. Metallurg’s victory with the 4:1 score showed that the team from the Urals could do everything on the rink and it just needed a proper thrashing in order to wake up for a bit of hockey action. This followed in game 2 of the final series in Magnitogorsk.

Although the first period ended up in 0:0, the second part of the game just belonged to Metallurg. Three unanswered goals by Bogdan Potehin, Danis Zaripov and Jan Kovář left no questions unanswered as to who would leave the rink victorious. The first goal of the third period was scored by Sergei Mozyakin of Metallurg. Three and a half minutes before the end of the game Justin Azevedo scored for Lev – a small conciliation for his team mates and a stolen shutout for Koshechkin. Well, maybe also a confidence building measure for Azevedo himself.

All in all, Metallurg rehabilitated itself before the public at home and brought the series balance to 1-1 before moving to Prague. A new KHL single-game attendance record.

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Game 3 was both a battle and a hilarious performance witnessed by 16435 spectators of the fully jammed O2 Arena in Prague.

Jiří Sekáč scored the first goal of the game at its very beginning, in minute 2. It was the feat of skills by this young forward of Lev, but also a failure by Metallurg defensemen to pay attention. Metallurg managed to equal the score in power play at the close of the second period with a strong shot on goal after a cruising movement across the front of the net by Sergei Mozyakin.

In the middle of the third period Justin Azevedo finishes the tremendous passing combination organized by his teammates defensemen Nathan Oystrick and Mikko Mäenpää. This secures Lev a one-goal lead over Metallurg – 2:1. After this goal the situation on the ice escalated and competition grew fierce. Francis Pare equalized at 58:42 by a rebound after a slap shot of his teammate Mozyakin – 2:2. The game could have gone in overtime. But due to Mäenpää’s pass to Azevedo and the latter’s goal-killing instinct the final score of 3:2 was settled to Lev’s benefit mere 23 seconds before the game’s end.

Justin Azevedo can be safely named the hero of the game. Two goals are a solid contribution. But his body blocking of Metallurg’s shot 4 seconds before the final whistle show the degree of this player’s commitment.

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Game 4 takes place on Thursday, April 24th at O2 Arena in Prague. This is a safe bet that the game will be another battle of skill, duress, team spirit and … nerves.