SKA defeated Vityaz Podolsk 4:0, HC Dynamo Moscow 4:1 and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4:0 to reach this stage of the competition. Meanwhile, Metallurg have beaten Kunlun Red Star 4:1, Barys Astana 4:0 and Ak Bars Kazan 4:0. The two clubs combined have lost only two games so far.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk never played in the top USSR championship. Their debut season at the highest level came in 1992. Nevertheless, it didn't take long for Metallurg to become one of the league's leading clubs, with the team being champions within seven years. They beat HC Dynamo Moscow 4:2 in the 1999 final. That triumph came in April, but two months before that in the Euro League, they defeated Dynamo Moscow 2:1 in the showpiece match. Vladimir Antipin, the father of current Metallurg defenseman Viktor Antipin, scored the winning goal.
SKA and Metallurg first played against each other in the 1993/1994 season. SKA won 3:1 in Saint Petersburg, but the teams played out a 3:3 draw in Magnitogorsk.
In 1994, SKA played against Metallurg in the playoffs. Despite SKA being the 13th seeds, the team beat their opponents 2:1 and 3:2. Goalkeeper Valery Ivannikov put on superb performances.
During nine KHL seasons, these clubs have met 20 times. Currently, the win score is tied at 10-10. All of SKA's victories have been earned in regulation, however Metallurg needed overtime and penalty shots to win three of their matches.
With the series starting in Magnitogorsk, let's review SKA's previous four matches in the Ural region:
- 18.10.2013, Metallurg - SKA - 1:4. Danis Zaripov equalised for Metallurg early on, but further goals from Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Kucheryavenko and Maxim Chudinov sealed SKA's win.
- 09.12.2014, Metallurg - SKA - 4:3 OT. SKA blew it in the third period to eventually go down in overtime. The match was Mikko Koskinen's second SKA appearance.
- 24.12.2015, Metallurg - SKA - 4:5. Our team had a 5:1 lead at one point. The hosts did get back to within one, however they ran out of time.
- 03.02.2017, Metallurg - SKA - 5:4 SO. Another thriller. SKA let a two goal advantage slip, losing out in a long penalty shootout.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk head coach Ilya Vorobyov has led his team against SKA on four occasions. He has lost three of those four duels.
Ilya Vorobyov has been working in Metallurg's coaching line-up since the 2012/2013 season.
Fourteen members of Metallurg's current squad have won the KHL Gagarin Cup with Magnitogorsk in 2014 and 2016. Those players are Vasily Koshechkin, Viktor Antipin, Chris Lee, Yaroslav Khabarov, Sergei Tereshchenko, Evgeny Biryukov, Sergei Mozyakin, Jan Kovar, Danis Zaripov, Oskar Osala, Bogdan Potekhin, Yaroslav Kosov, Evgeny Timkin and Denis Platonov.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk players' statistics against SKA
Vasily Koshechkin has played against SKA 27 times, winning 5 matches and conceding 69 goals.
Ilya Samsonov competed in the penalty shootout in February this year.
Chris Lee - 11 (3+8); Viktor Antipin - 4 (0+4); Alexander Budkin - 4 (0+4); Evgeny Biryukov (0+2).
Sergei Mozyakin - 48 (27+21); Danis Zaripov - 31 (18+13); Denis Platonov - 15 (8+7); Dmitry Kazionov - 15 (6+9); Jan Kovar - 9 (3+6); Alexander Syomin - 5 (1+4); Denis Kazionov - 4 (3+1); Oskar Osala - 2 (1+1); Tomas Fillipi - 2 (0+2); Bogdan Potekhin - 1 (1+0); Evgeny Timkin - 1 (0+1).
Netminder Vasily Koshechkin was between Severstal Cherepovets' pipes for the 2013 KHL playoffs series against SKA. He conceded 17 goals, losing it 0:4.
Sergei Mozyakin played against SKA in the 2011 Gagarin Cup playoffs for Atlant Mytischi. He scored one goal in seven games.
Finnish forward Tommi Santala was Ilya Kovalchuk's teammate with the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2003/2004 NHL season.
Only Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov have over 100 KHL Gagarin Cup playoff points (138 and 114 respectively).
Canadian Chris Lee boasts 44 KHL playoff points (7+37). Only Ilya Nikulin on 56 and Kirill Koltsov on 50 have more in the Gagarin Cup playoffs from a defenseman.
SKA players' statistics agaimst Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Mikko Koskinen has played in 3 games, conceding 10 goals and winning one match.
Igor Shestyorkin competed in 3 matches, winning two and letting 7 goals go in. One of those appearances was only in a penalty shootout.
Maxim Chudinov - 3 (1+2); Vyacheslav Voynov - 3 (0+3); Andrei Zubarev - 1 (0+1); Yegor Yakovlev - 1 (0+1); Anton Belov - 1 (0+1).
Vadim Shipachyov - 10 (0+10); Ilya Kovalchuk - 7 (3+4); Evgeny Dadonov - 6 (5+1); Nikita Gusev - 6 (2+4); Steve Moses - 3 (2+1); Viktor Tikhonov - 3 (0+3); Jarno Koskiranta - 2 (2+0); Alexander Barabanov - 2 (2+0); Pavel Datsyuk - 1 (1+0); Nikolai Prokhorkin - 1 (0+1); Sergei Shirokov - 1 (0+1).