Slovan topples Avangard to keep playoff push alive

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HC SLOVAN Bratislava bounced back from a disappointing performance against Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk to defeat the KHL Eastern Conference leaders Avangard Omsk 3:2 after a shootout.


Avangard Omsk – HC SLOVAN Bratislava 2:3 after shootout (0:1, 0:0, 2:1, 0:0 - 0:1)

Goals: 43. Kuryanov (Kalinin, Ivanov), 55. Zaborský (Kurjanov, Ivanov)- 11. Bližňák (Miklík), 46. Kytnár (Daňo, Bakoš), winning penalty shot: Ölvecký

Shots: 42:33, penalties: 6:8, powerplay goals: 2:1, shorthanded goals: 0:0, attendance: 9 870, officials: Naumov, Cherenkov, Pavlov, Maťuša

Avangard Omsk: 
Reyzvikh - Salmela, Pujacs, Valentenko, Belov, Piganovič, Pivcakin, Kalašnikov - Frolov Sjomin, Perežogin - Záborský, Kuparinen, Mozer - Ivanov, Kurjanov, Kalinin - Nesterov, Taratuchin, Pervušin - Volkov
HC SLOVAN Bratislava: Janus - Sigalet, Sersen, Hudáček, Bližňák, Miklík - Mojžíš, Tabaček, Bartovič (C), Ölvecký, Kukumberg (A) - Ďatelinka, Mihálik, Bakoš, Kytnár, Daňo - Luža Švarný (A), Mikúš, Preisinger, Kudrna

The opening minutes of Sunday’s game were played out mostly in the neutral zone, as both teams attempted to stifle the other through restrictive play off the puck. HC SLOVAN were able to restrict the amount of chances Avangard could create. It was only until Mihálik took a penalty in the 7th minute where Avangard began to generate some pressure, as the line of Syomin, Perezhogin and Frolov looked dangerous and forced Janus to be sharp. In the 11th minute HC SLOVAN would break the deadlock on the powerplay, as Mário Bližňák found the back of the net with a perfectly placed shot which beat Eduard Reyzvikh in the Avangard net. The home side looked a step behind HC SLOVAN all through the first period, as the home side struggled to generate anything on a Sersen penalty in the final two minutes of the first period.

The home side came out in the second period and stepped up their play which made life tough for HC SLOVAN. The Slovak side spent large periods of the middle frame trapped in their own zone, and Janus had to be sharp to deny Záborský and Kalinin. However, HC SLOVAN were still able to get chances, as a Hudáček chance was stopped by Reyzvikh, and a powerplay opportunity after Salmela took a penalty gave the away side many chances to double their lead but to no avail. Reyzvikh stole the show in the final minute of the second period with an incredible sprawling glove save on a Bližňák one timer.

An early powerplay for Avangard helped them get back into the game as Anton Kuryanov found the back of the net following nice play between Kalinin and Ivanov while Ölvecký was sitting in the penalty box. However, despite this setback, HC SLOVAN rallied back and were able to re-take the lead just under four minutes later. A rebound off Reyzvikh fell onto the stick of Kytnár, who buried the puck to give HC SLOVAN a 2:1 lead. Both teams traded chances, with Bartovič going close to giving HC SLOVAN a two goal lead, but with Švarný in the box for a hooking call, Avangard equalised, as Slovak forward Tomáš Záborský lit the lamp with five and a half minutes remaining in the third period. Avangard controlled the play in the final moments of regulation time, pinning HC SLOVAN in their own defensive zone, but Rostislav Čada’s men managed to hold on and take the game to overtime.

Avangard pressured in the overtime period, desperate to secure the extra point. Their efforts increased when Michal Sersen took a penalty in the second minute of the extra frame. However, it was HC SLOVAN who had the biggest chance in overtime, as Milan Bartovič was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked back by Salmela, but the HC SLOVAN captain was unable to score. The game would go to a penalty shootout, Bližňák set the tone, powering into the zone and beating Reyzvikh high on the glove side with a perfect shot. Janus saved Syomin’s first attempt, while Miklik was unable to find the back of the net on HC SLOVAN’s second shot, before Alexander Frolov fired a quick shot that surprised Janus to send the teams into the third round of shooters tied at 1:1. Ölvecký was the third shooter for HC SLOVAN, and like Bližňák, he used his speed to put the pressure on Reyzvikh and beat him on his forehand side. Janus was then able to stop compatriot Záborský after some great resilience by the HC SLOVAN netminder, not giving up on the shot and making the save. HC SLOVAN Bratislava therefore take another vital two points to help their playoff charge, and pick up another victory against a powerhouse of the KHL.

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