The KHL championship takes a rest until the 3rd of March. The play-off places in the Western conference are all but settled, assuming the Army men and Dinamo Riga will not throw away their pretty solid advantage. Torpedo and Severstal will miss the boat, although they will probably still give their all to make the final eight, but their fate is not in their hands.

In contrast, in the Eastern conference it is still far from all over. Traktor should make the second stage, and so we have a three-way battle for eighth spot between Sibir, Amur and Avtomobilist. The first two have just suffered crushing home defeats - surely the result of nerves.

The serial sacking of coaches continues. In Yaroslavl, Lokomotiv have dispensed with the services of Kari Heikkila, and now Petr Vorobiev will take the team under his wing. The Finn specialist has not been forgiven for this season’s poor performances, despite him leading the club to the finals in the previous two championships. Vorobiev had already made two attempts to leave Togliatti, but things didn’t work out with Atlant or Torpedo. Then again, he will have a better selection of players in Yaroslavl than in Mytishchi or Nizhny Novgorod.

Unhappy ending
Ak Bars have now lost nine matches after opening the score, although we should note that Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team has also held on to win on 21 occasions. As for Salavat Yulaev, their will to win has seen them victorious in seven matches out of the seventeen in which they have conceded the first goal. And the Ufa men are the least likely in the whole championship to concede first.

First game-winner
Neftekhimik attacker Dmitry Makarov scored the decisive goal for the first time this season, becoming the 13th player to clinch the points for the Nizhnekamsk club. The undisputed leader is Maxim Yakutsenya, with six winning goals. Strangely, not a single player has managed to grab the game-winner in two consecutive games.

Problems at home
Metallurg Novokuznetsk are still stuck in bottom place in the League for points earned from home games. Dmitri Parkhomenko’s team has a paltry 27 points, and Severstal took full advantage today to set a club record in the KHL, increasing their away points total to 36.

100 percent
Avtomobilist posted a phenomenal statistic in the game against Traktor, scoring in 100% of powerplays. Their average for the season is now 17.05%, putting the new boys in the League’s top ten. The Chelyabinsk club’s statistic for not conceding while a man short is an unimpressive 81.74%, and on this score they lie 17th in the League.

Vityaz smash the record
Vityaz have broken the KHL record for penalty minutes in a season. The previous record, 1805 minutes, also belonged to them, naturally, and this time they have amassed 1841 minutes, with three games still in hand.

Three goals is not enough
Torpedo are the eighth team this season to throw away a three-goal lead. Thankfully, no team has yet been unlucky enough to manage this twice, although Dinamo Riga, on the positive side, have three times fought back to win from three goals down, and today was the first time Dynamo Moscow performed such a recovery.

Spartak slain again
Spartak suffered their heaviest home defeat in the KHL, going down 2-8 to HC MVD. Their home fans had never before seen them lose by six goals, nor concede eight. To find the last time they lost a home game by such a margin we must go back to 2001, when they were crushed by Ak Bars 1-7.

Lightning strikes twice
Amur equaled their two worst records in the KHL. It is the second time this season they have lost at home by a five-goal margin, and the second time in the current championship they have conceded eight times at their own arena. The Khabarovsk men have now shipped 85 goals on their own ice, the fourth highest total in the League.

Bulis’s best match
Atlant’s Jan Bulis set a personal record in the KHL by earning four points in one game. The 31-year-old forward claimed one goal and three assists, his best figures over the last season and a half. Jan has twice in his career taken three points from one game: in his very first outing for Atlant back in September 2008, and again in last November.

Figures of the day
46 shots at the Torpedo goal from the Dynamo Moscow players.

5 different players managed 6 shots at goal.

24 minutes 10 seconds spent in play by Dynamo Moscow defenseman Denis Denisov.

76.5% of 17 face-offs won by Metallurg Novokuznetsk attacker Alexander Tatarinov.

Key players
Konstantin Barulin (CSKA). Saved 27 shots and was unbeaten in the shoot-out.

Kirill Koltsov (Salavat Yulaev). Added a goal, an assist, and an efficiency rating of +1 to his account.

Denis Grot (Avtomobilist). Finished the game with a rating of +3.

Yury Trubachev (SKA). Scored one goal, helped create another, and finished at a +3.

Viktor Tikhonov (Severstal). Scored a double against Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Ruslan Zaynullin (HC MVD). Scored a double against Spartak.

Quotes
“It was important that we managed to take the lead early today, and besides, the team seemed less inhibited than against Metallurg and Sibir,” - Avtomobilist head coach Marek Sykora.

“The players were distracted by paying too much attention to the Amur and Sibir games. I was trying to shut off all the Internet, but I couldn’t,” - Traktor head coach Andrei Nazarov.

“After we conceded the third, I told the players they needed to believe they could still win,” - Dynamo Moscow head coach Andrei Khomutov.

“Why can we never score in overtime? I think we have a psychological problem,” - Torpedo head coach Evgeny Popikhin.

Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru

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