Their engine stalled, their offense sputtering, Lokomotiv can only hope that come Wednesday they are not relegated to the train yard for the summer. For after Ufa Salavat’s convincing 4-1 victory on Monday in Game 3 of the Russian Super League Finals, the regular season champion Salavat now own a commanding 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five Finals, with the potential clincher on Wednesday in Yaroslavl. Having outscored Lokomotiv 7-1 over the past two games, Ufa appears poised to hoist the Championship trophy on enemy ice.
After a decisive 3-0 triumph in Game 2 of the series, Ufa got on the board a mere three minutes into the match when Andrei Sidyakin notched his first of the Finals and second of the postseason past the suddenly penetrable Semen Varlamov. Salavat’s lead was fleeting, as Zbynek Irgl snapped Lokomotiv’s almost 99 minute dry spell with his second tally of the series at the seventeen minute mark of the first period.
That would be all the elation for the home throng, however, as the rest of the game belonged to the surging Salavat. Ufa overwhelmed its host in the second period, riding two goals within four minutes by defensemen Vitaly Proshkin and Andrei Kutejkin to a 3-1 bulge. For the 22 year-old Kutejkin, his marker constituted a much-needed offensive contribution for Salavat, since he was Ufa’s leading goal scorer among defensemen in the 2007-2008 campaign. Unable to muster any offense in the third period against Ufa goalie Alexander Eremenko, Loko saw any comeback aspirations dissipate when Salavat’s star forward, Alexander Perezhogin, deposited his second goal of the playoffs with approximately two minutes to go in the tilt to give the visitors an insurmountable 4-1 advantage.
With only one goal in the past seven periods, Lokomotiv must find a way, any way, to revive its offensive attack. Otherwise, they will be watching Ufa coast around their home ice as champions, having emphatically put the brakes on Lokomotiv’s season.