Two down, six to go
Avangard’s victory in Ufa not only put the Omsk men level with Ak Bars at the top of the overall championship standings, it also secured them a berth in the play-off stage of the Gagarin Cup. So with these two having booked their tickets to the next round, there are now six places in the Eastern Conference left to play for. We hardly need to remind anyone that Ak Bars went all the way both times, but the Omsk men’s record in the knockout stages is not so memorable: in the first season they did get over the first hurdle, and with an impressive triumph over regular championship winners Salavat Yulaev, before falling to the Kazan men in the next round, but the following season they made an immediate exit without winning a game against Neftekhimik.
Overtime for the automobile men
Avtomobilist achieved their sixth overtime victory of the season, putting them level on this score with Avangard and Traktor. The Yekaterinburg men are now unbeaten in their last four attempts, recording three wins and one tie. In the previous campaign, the team’s debut season in the KHL, Avtomobilist were not so sparkling in the extra five minutes, winning just twice and losing four times in 14 attempts.
Only three teams in the current championship are still awaiting their first overtime victory: CSKA, Vityaz and Yugra.
Enver Lisin’s short-handed goal today was Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s fourth of the campaign – a long way behind Dinamo Riga’s total of 9 goals, and two fewer than Metallurg themselves managed last season, although they have matched their total for the first KHL championship. The Magnitogorsk men’s favorite victim is SKA, and back in December 2008 they punished the Petersburg men with two short-handed goals in one game.
Figure of the day
50 shots at the Yugra goal from the Metallurg Magnitogorsk players – the fiercest bombardment inflicted on the KHL new boys to date. The previous highest total, 48 shots, also came from the men from the Urals, while Barys threatened the Yugra goal 44 times. In all three games, the over-worked keeper for the Khanty-Mansiysk side was Edgar Masalskis.
Georgy Gelashvili (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Saved 36 out of 37 shots.
Vladislav Bulyin (Neftekhimik). Given just under 16 minutes’ playing time – less than his fellow Nizhnekamsk defensemen – but in that time supplied the decisive passes for two goals, and despite his team’s defeat he still finished the game at a +3.
Martin Skoula (Avangard). Spent over 21 minutes on the ice, struck the winning goal, and earned a rating of +2.
Enver Lisin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Was on the ice for almost 17 minutes, had six shots at goal, of which two found the target, and merited a +2.
Petri Kontiola (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Was the joint most active player in the game along with Lisin, hitting six shots, but Petri was the game’s most valuable player, earning a +3. Made two assists and won 65% of his face-offs.
Roman Cervenka (Avangard). Spent almost 19 minutes in play - longer than any other Omsk forward. Set up two goals and finished at a +2.
Quotes of the day
“In the third period the Ufa guys showed what a powerful team they are. In that spell we saw that we still have a lot of really hard work ahead of us,” Avangard head coach Raimo Summanen.
“The Persson line lost us the game, giving away all four goals, and generally just looked asleep. In a game where there are six points at stake, you just can’t play like that,” Neftekhimik head coach Vladimir Krikunov.
“We had a serious conversation with Alexander Ryazantsev about fulfilling his duties as a professional. Today in defense he was a different player and he scored the game-winner, which is of course very important,” Avtomobilist head coach Evgeny Mukhin.
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru