Result of the day
Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Topedo Nizhny Novgorod 1-3. If the recent success of the visiting team can be explained by the return of head coach Evgeny Popikhin, then in turn it is hard to put the Ural men’s bad spell down to chance. Valeri Belousov had few injuries to cope with; yes, he was without Fedor Fedorov, replacing him with his brother, Sergei, but Jan Marek returned to the side, and Vasily Koshechkin made his debut in goal. And yet they have gone six games without a regulation time win.
The calendar is partly to blame, as four of their last seven opponents can be called the Gagarin Cup hopefuls, but the 1-7 to Barys or this 1-3 to Torpedo? It would be a strange slip of the tongue if Metallurg blamed it all on stronger opposition. They themselves will hardly be happy with mere qualification for the play-offs, so maybe they are simply pausing for breath, restraining themselves, knowing that the energy levels of an ageing side are not limitless. If so, they should take comfort that the coaching staff have it all under control. But what if even they don’t understand what is happening?
In the day’s other matches, Traktor were taken apart by CSKA, 1-4, Avtomobilist overpowered Vityaz, 8-3, HC MVD were defeated by Moscow Dynamo, 3-4, Atlant finally overcame Severstal in the shoot-out, 6-5, Dinamo Minsk fell to Spartak, 2-5, and Dinamo Riga lost in the shoot-out to Lokomotiv, 2-3.
Among the leaders
Vityaz attacker Sergei Belokon, having struck his second short-handed goal, joined an elite group of leaders in this field. The only other players in the championship to manage this being Riga Dinamo’s Marcel Hossa, Barys’s Maxim Spiridonov, Lada’s Konstantin Panov, CSKA’s Petr Schastlivy, and Neftekhimik’s Maxim Pestushko.
Fastest of all
In the match between Avtomobilist and Vityaz the teams shared 11 goals. Only two matches in the current tournament have featured more and, interestingly, involved today’s protagonists: Vityaz recently lost 5-9 to Lokomotiv, and Avtomobilist fell 6-7 to Neftekhimik. In Saturday’s match the two sides needed only 26 minutes 15 seconds to score the first eight goals, a new record.
The eighth change of coach in the KHL has proved curious. Evgeny Popikhin returned to the post of head coach at Torpedo, replacing Sergei Mikhalev, and immediately claimed a victory, and away from home. The year before last, Popikhin’s start at Torpedo was not as successful, losing his first match 3-5 to Amur.
Everything points to Torpedo forward Vadim Shakhraychuk setting a new personal scoring record. After 21 matches, the Ukraine international already has 6 goals to his account. His record is ten goals, scored in 2003-04 and again in 2007-08, although for this haul he needed 60 and 57 games respectively.
Nikita Filatov (pictured) scored his first career goal at Russian championship level. In the season before last he played five games for CSKA, and then he left for across the ocean. Straight on his return on loan from Columbus Blue Jackets he grabbed 3 points in his first game, scoring one goal and making two assists.
Militia Men finally waver
HC MVD in this championship invariably win if they open the scoring, as they have shown nine times already this season, only in today’s meeting with Moscow Dynamo the tradition was broken. Now there is only one team left who is yet to let slip a 1-0 lead - Salavat Yulaev.
Six years on
Albert Leshchev had not stepped onto the ice in CSKA colors since March 15th, 2003. Interestingly, his opponents on that day also represented Chelyabinsk Region - Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Another coincidence: in that match six years ago he earned himself two minutes of penalty time, as he did again today against Traktor.
There’s no place like home, unfortunately
Minsk Dinamo lost a home match in regulation for the eighth time, a distinction they share with Avtomobilist. In 14 home games, the Belarusians have conceded 40 goals, and scored a paltry 24 - lowest total in the KHL.
Sights need setting
For the first time in the championship, Severstal lost in a shoot-out, having won all their previous five matches settled by the after-match duel. In the league there are five teams left with a flawless shoot-out record, and three who have lost every one.
Figures of the day
37 shots on Georgy Gelashvili’s goal by Dinamo Riga.
8 shots on goal from Dinamo Riga forward Marcel Hossa.
26 minutes 50 seconds on the ice from Severstal defenseman Yury Alexandrov.
71.4% of 21 face-offs won by Atlant attacker Jiri Novotny.
Georgy Gelashvili (Lokomotiv). Made 35 saves and stayed unbeaten in the shoot-out.
Viktor Kostyuchenok (Spartak). Made three assists, and finished the match with a + 3.
Yury Alexandrov (Severstal). Spent 26 minutes on the ice, struck five shots on target, claimed one goal, and helped his team gain points at Atlant.
Nikita Filatov (CSKA). In his very first match earned three points: a goal and two assists.
Vadim Shakhraychuk (Torpedo). Took part in two goal-scoring moves, scored one goal and made the decisive pass for another.
Alexander Gulyavtsev (Avtomobilist). Scored one goal and made three assists.
“Players cannot keep up with the kind of tempo which the league calendar demands.” – Traktor head coach Andrei Nazarov.
“It’s good that we’ve learned to score more than one or two goals in a game, as it was before.” – Avtomobilist head coach Marek Sykora.
“We can’t get enough of our captain, Chris Simon, who is a little unwell. Vityaz is a completely different team without him.” – Vityaz head coach Mike Krushelnyski.
“I only arrived in Nizhny Novgorod at four in the morning, took charge of the team, and then we were already flying here, to the Urals.” – Torpedo head coach Evgeny Popihin.
“Our goaltender [Michael Garnett] had a bad game; he should have saved two of their goals.” – HC MVD head coach Oleg Znarok.
Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru