Result of the day
Salavat Yulayev Ufa - Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3-2
Sometimes you watch a match and know straight away a team has the stuff of champions - practically perfect hockey: every pass is pinpoint accurate, every combination comes off. They are not machines, of course, and the mass brawl (pictured) was from an overspill of passion rather than dirty play.
Any side can win, but the statistics show it is the Ufa men alone who have found top form. Salavat Yulayev are just stunning to watch. As indeed they were last year, and we remember how it all fell apart for them in the play-offs: after coming first in the regular season, they lost in the first round to Avangard Omsk. Who can say who will be the best in April? There are possible pitfalls ahead, not least the weariness of those playing for national teams, and - Heaven forbid - injuries.
So the KHL championship has new leaders, but for how long? Probably until another side becomes good enough to match the exploits of the Ufa men and muster nine straight victories, but that is no mean feat.
The only negative about such a match is that Ufa and Magnitogorsk are in different divisions, as two meetings per tournament between these teams are not enough.
In the day's other matches, Barys edged past Avtomobilist in overtime 5-4, Avanguard hammered Traktor 6-1, Lada just overcame Dynamo Moscow in a shoot-out 2-1, Ak Bars convincingly dealt with Dinamo Minsk 4-1, while Neftekhimik suffered a home defeat to Dinamo Riga 3-5.
Don't take the goalie off
Minsk Dinamo consolidated their first position for conceding into an empty net. The Belarusians have now been punished by opponents six times for pulling the goalie. They have shipped 60 goals this tournament, so one in ten have been the result of these less than successful changes.
Hossa stretches his lead
Dinamo Riga's Marcel Hossa is now three goals clear in the race to be the championship's best sniper. Hossa has notched 17, three ahead of his nearest rival, Alexei Morozov, and is just five strikes away from matching his total for last year.
Lada finally lifted their shoot-out curse, overcoming Moscow Dynamo, Petr Vorobyev's side having been losers in all five previous shoot-outs. Yesterday's opponents have been suffering the same sickness. The blue-&-whites, with their Riga namesakes, and HK MVD, are yet to claim a shoot-out victory.
Lack of self-control
For the first time in three years Metallurg Magnitogorsk defenseman Vitaly Atyushov collected six penalty minutes in one game, having gone two entire seasons without attracting two penalties in one match. For Vitaly's 'personal best' for punishments, we have to back to 2001-02 season, when, at Perm, he amassed 64 minutes of penalties.
Salavat Yulayev have collected at least a point in their last 13 outings, and their winning streak now stretches to nine - a record for this championship. Vyacheslav Bykov's men have shown their opponents little mercy, slamming in 47 goals while shipping only 11.
Avtomobilist's young attacker Anatoly Nikontsev struck this season's fastest goal, lighting the red flame behind the Barys goal just 14 seconds from the opening face-off. Interestingly, the previous fastest, at 19 seconds, was also claimed by a Yekaterinburg player, Radek Philipp.
Not in form
Traktor, for the first time this season, have gathered four straight defeats, and with a ghastly goal difference of 2:28. In the first KHL championship, Andrei Nazarov's men also suffered four straight losses, although the goal difference was a slightly more respectable 6:18. Traktor are without a win in regulation time in their last nine matches, gathering just 2 points along the way.
Figures of the day
43 shots on Avtomobilist's goal by players of Barys.
29 minutes 12 seconds spent in play by Ak Bars defenseman Andrei Pervyshin.
76.2% of 21 face-offs won by Barys attacker Jozef Stumpel.
7 shots on goal by Lada attacker Konstantin Panov.
110 minutes penalty time amassed by Ak Bars and Dinamo Minsk players.
Riga Dinamo struck five 5 goals past hapless Neftekhimik, out of 14 shots on target.
Karri Ramo (Avangard) - made 23 saves, bringing his club their first regulation time win in five matches.
Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars) – made two assists.
Radek Philipp (Avtomobilist) - made one assist, finished the match with a +1, spent 18 minutes 54 seconds on the ice.
Martins Cipulis (Dinamo Riga) - begged a brace of goals, one of which was the match-winner.
Roman Kukumberg (Lada) - struck one goal in regulation time, and scored again in the shoot-out
Viktor Kozlov (Salavat Yulayev) - scored the winning goal, made one assist and finished with a +1.
Quotes of the day
“After a 5-0 win it makes the next match very hard,” - Salavat Yulayev head coach Vyacheslav Bykov.
“It's a long time since our defense were as mean as they were today,” - Lada head coach Petr Vorobyev.
Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru