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    5. Lokomotiv is one step closer to the final! The Yaroslavl ..


    Lokomotiv is one step closer to the final! The Yaroslavl residents can no longer be stopped?

    The first match of the Gagarin Cup semi-final series between Lokomotiv and “Traktor” presented essentially one news feed, which, in terms of the scale of discussions, bypassed the very fact of the victory of the Yaroslavl team. One of the main heroes of the Chelyabinsk team and the entire KHL playoffs, Zach Fucale, was injured. The goalkeeper of the “black and whites” was unable to continue the game after a collision with the star of the “railroad workers” Maxim Shalunov, because of which Traktor’s prospects for success were called into question.

    It is officially unknown how serious the Canadian’s injury was. Even the head coach of Traktor, Alexei Zavarukhin, called the health of his team’s goalkeeper a military secret. However, video replays of the incident clearly show that Fucale’s recovery may take more than one match. That is why his absence from the lineup for the second game in Yaroslavl was not a surprise. After today’s game, the “black and white” coach went over Shalunov for perhaps the key episode of the entire series.

    “Accidentally or not… This episode happened, we won’t argue. We need to look deeper at Shalunov’s actions after the episode. He seems to be considered a product of Chelyabinsk hockey, but his behavior is no good. He saw the goalie being carried off the ice by the arms, but he didn’t even knock on the bench or the ice. The player was injured, but he didn’t call or apologize. It doesn't make him look good. Let them be afraid in Chelyabinsk. Will we answer? I don’t promise anything,” Zavarukhin said at today’s press conference.

    Sergei Mylnikov was destined to save Chelyabinsk residents. This situation has two scenarios: either Traktor will crumble, having lost one of its leaders, or the Chelyabinsk team, known for its winning character, will unite even more and, despite all doubts, will take its toll. Today's match in the series showed that the “black and whites” are closer to the second option. For them, the factor of Fucale’s absence did not affect: “Traktor” acted many times more confidently than in the first match in Yaroslavl, faster and even forced Igor Nikitin’s strict “Lokomotiv” to make mistakes unusual for Yaroslavl. Including in their own zone.

    In this regard, the goal of the Semyon Der-Arguchintsev line, when Vitaly Kravtsov scored, was indicative. The Chelyabinsk team's effective attack began precisely after Loko's mistake when leaving the zone.

    If we talk about the character of “Traktor”, then the Chelyabinsk team was fine with him too. Alexey Zavarukhin's team, after a difficult second period, rallied for the third 20 minutes and did everything to win back. And they succeeded through the efforts of Ilya Karpukhin.

    But Lokomotiv showed why they are among the main contenders for the championship and are one of the most successful clubs in the playoffs. Thanks to their correct hockey, the Yaroslavl team not only create chances, but also get the most out of them. For example, the first goal of the “railroad workers” today: Maxim Berezkin made a phenomenal pass and finished it with a cool pass, after which Artur Kayumov could not help but complete the attack by scoring a goal. Or Loko's second goal – the Yaroslavl team openly strangled the Chelyabinsk team in the second period with their overlapping shifts, not allowing the opponent to take even a breath of air. This is where Traktor's mistakes, sending off and instant punishment from Nikitin's gang came from.

    The decisive episode of the match was the goal in overtime, when Georgy Ivanov successfully put up his stick after a long throw from Alexander Elesin. 3:2 in the match and 2-0 in the series – “Lokomotiv” takes both home matches and with a comfortable advantage goes to Chelyabinsk, where the “railroad workers” will receive a very warm welcome. Hotter than hell.

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