Metallurg takes Russian title
Metallurg coach Fedor Kanareykin (Sergei Gavrilov/Sport Express photo)
Metallurg Magnitogorsk defeated Ak Bars Kazan earlier today, 2-1, in the finals' deciding fifth game to capture the Russian Super League championship (game recap, summary and box score).
Czech forward Jan Marek, Metallurg's leading point scorer all season, scored the game-winning goal with 7:23 left.
It was the sixth consecutive time that the visiting team has won the decisive game of the RSL finals.
The game was a physical and emotional contest that saw Ak Bars' Jan Novak leaving blood on the ice and causing a delay after a serious injury, plus a fight between Metallurg's Ed Kudermetov and Ak Bars' Vitaly Proshkin, all in the game's first few minutes of play.
Metallurg scored first, on a goal by Vitali Atyushov at 5:45 of the first period. Atyushov's goal stood as the game's only score until past the midway point of the third period, when Kazan's Ilya Nikulin, on an assist from Vladimir Vorobiev, tied the game with 8:45 to go. Jan Marek's game-winning goal for Metallurg followed only 1:12 later.
Metallurg's Ravil Gusmanov and Vitali Atyushov with Vladislav Tretiak
and the Cup (Gazeta.ru photo)
The win was Metallurg's third RSL championship in 8 years ('07, '01, '99), and followed an unlikely season that saw the team lose both its best player (Evgeni Malkin) and head coach (Dave King).
The Russian paper Sport Express, in fact, took a shot at Malkin, saying, "Somewhere deep in his soul Malkin will be sorry for his departure, as he deprived himself of a brilliant fifth match of the Russian finals, while his Penguins will hardly make it out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs."
Metallurg's victory prevented regular season champions and defending champions Ak Bars from become the RSL's second repeat champion in the last four seasons.
UPDATE 4/16/07 - Here's a video of the final two minutes of play, from Russian TV (with sound):
Metallurg's Evgeni Varlamov (#36 in blue) takes a late penalty, then Ak Bars pulls their goalie to get a 6-on-4, but Metallurg holds on for the win.
Also, check out the post for Game Two of the final, which has been updated to include a video of the dust-up between goalies Travis Scott and Mika Noronen.