Traktor Chelyabinsk looks set to top the Eastern Conference table - and young forward Evgeny Kuznetsov is cementing his reputation as the KHL’s top emerging talent. His latest triumph came at Amur Khabarovsk - where the air-miles seem to be catching up with Hannu Jortikka’s men after an impressive campaign. Kuznetsov posted 2+1 - including the game-winning goal - in a 3-2 win which keeps Traktor motoring on towards the play-offs.
Champion hits form...
Salavat Yulaev Ufa seems to be getting into its stride at just the right time for an assault on the play-offs. A 4-2 win over Spartak means it’s just one loss in 11 for the Gagarin Cup holders and that run of form has taken the Bashkir side into a seeded spot in the Eastern Conference. Saturday’s success came courtesy of third period goals from Vitaly Proshkin and Pyotr Schastlivy after the visitors made a lively start through Vadim Berdnikov’s opener on 72 seconds.
...but runner-up runs astray
However, if it’s looking good in Ufa, the signs for Atlant Moscow Region are rather ominous. A 3-0 home defeat to Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod means it’s six defeats in a row for last year’s runner-up. To make matters worse the Mytishchi men have scored just once in three games and haven’t troubled the scorers for 153 minutes of game time. For Torpedo, victory snapped a four-game losing streak, with Kim Hirschovits giving the perfect start on 56 seconds and Vladimir Galuzin and Alexei Ugarov completing the scoring in the second period.
Good news at last
Last week in Riga CSKA fans were shocked to hear that club president Vyacheslav Fetisov was stepping down - but one week on the team went to the Latvian capital and ended a three-game losing streak with a fight-back win. Young defenseman Igor Ozhiganov, making only his seventh appearance in a Red-and-Blue jersey, got the winner on 52:13.
The Lions’ late roar
Lev Poprad is intent on finishing its debut KHL campaign in some style - and a 4-3 win over Dinamo Minsk made it three successes in a row for the Slovaks as the regular season enters its final month. Martin Chabada’s goal right at the end of the second ultimately proved decisive; Dinamo hit back to make it 4-3 on 46:19 through Andrei Mikhalyov but could not force overtime.
And in Novokuznetsk there was another one-goal game, this time going Metallurg’s way as Sergei Brylin’s strike on 9:26 earned his team victory over Barys Astana. Home goalie Teemu Lassila had a busy afternoon with 38 saves.
At the bottom of the table Nikolai Bushuyev kept up his impressive recent form, bagging two in Avtomobilist’s 3-2 win at Sibir Novosibirsk. Neither side is capable of reaching the play-offs, but Bushuyev has still taken 5+1=6 points from his last three games.
Yegor Milovzorov was the key man as Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk came from behind twice before sinking Vityaz Chekhov 4-3. Milovzorov got an assist on Oskar Osala’s opener, and then scored two of his own in a feisty final period. His game-winner came on 57:53.