Second hat-trick
Few players manage to score two hat-tricks in the course of a single KHL season. In the first championship only Danis Zaripov achieved this, and what is more only one game separated Danis’s first and second treble. The two teams on the receiving end were Dynamo Moscow and Khimik.

The following year there were two double-hat-trick heroes: Jaromir Jagr hit three past the Riga men and then, eight games later, did the same to Barys; for Patrick Thoresen, there was an interval of 21 games between his first and second trebles, and both were against Vityaz.

And in the current championship, Lukas Kaspar followed his triple strike against Ak Bars with another just two games later against Avangard, and now Pavol Demitra’s second hat-trick today means he has repeated Zaripov’s exploits by staying quiet for just one game after his first, which he scored against Metallurg Magnitogorsk last Saturday.

Will to win
Although Avtomobilist are unlikely to grace the play-offs this year, Evgeny Mukhin’s team has nonetheless shown one of the best fighting spirits in the current championship. The Yekaterinburg outfit is the only team that has fought back to win four games in which they allowed the first two goals. And if we include overcoming any two-goal deficit, then Avtomobilist’s record is bettered only by Salavat Yulaev, and just by a single victory.

As for Barys, the Yekaterinburg men’s latest victims, such a collapse is a little out of character. It is just the third time Andrei Khomutov’s men threw away a two-goal lead, just the second time they have lost after leading 2-0, and their first defeat in a game which they led after two periods.

Firing blanks
Today was only the second time in the current championship that the Magnitogorsk men were kept off the scoreboard, and moreover, it came just eight games after the previous occasion, when they were shut out by Ak Bars.

The longest unbroken sequence of KHL regular season games in which the Magnitogorsk men scored at least one goal stretched to 52 games, beginning back in the previous campaign, and ending with that very same defeat by Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team.

Figure of the day
11 games without scoring for Ak Bars attacker Marcel Hossa. In his two previous seasons, spent in the colors of Dinamo Riga, the Slovak sharpshooter was in deadly form, recording 57 goals in 108 games, and never suffered such a long dry spell. His longest run without scoring in the first campaign was 5 games, and in the second it was 7.

Key players
Jakub Stepanek (SKA). Saved all 18 shots to earn his second shutout of the campaign.

Evgeny Dubrovin (Avtomobilist). His performance in regulation time merited a +2, and he capped it by scoring the game-deciding shot in the shootout.

Kirill Koltsov (Salavat Yulaev). Supplied the pass for the winning goal and earned a +2.

Roman Cervenka (Avangard). Spent over 20 minutes on the ice, made one assist and scored two goals, including the game-winner.

Pavol Demitra (Lokomotiv). Spent more time in play than any other forward in the game - over 19 minutes, during which he scored a hat-trick, added an assist, and finished at a +2.

Charles Linglet (Torpedo). Struck a double and set up two more goals for his teammates.

Quotes of the day
“It was plain to see that the visitors have a lot more skill, and so they can play in a free, relaxed style. As I’ve said, our guys really tried, but with a team like Ak Bars, effort alone is not enough,” Yugra head coach Sergei Shepelev.

“To get our rhythm back, I need to quickly get the team playing a three-line game. On the bench the guys get swamped with emotion. Like Shkotov, who we had to rest, we can’t use him for the whole game. That’s why Mikus was put in the first line. And Shkotov understands this, and he’s OK with it,” Spartak acting head coach Andrei Yakovenko.

Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru

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