Result of the day
Traktor Chelyabinsk - Ak Bars Kazan 1-0 SO. For the first time this season, two zeros were still glowing on the scoreboard after 65 minutes had elapsed. Traktor kept their first clean sheet in 29 matches, and Ak Bars failed to score for the first time in 25. In spite of the scoreline, this turned out to be quite an interesting contest.
Whatever they say about the difficult relationship between the Chelyabinsk fans and the Traktor head coach, the whole arena threw their support behind the team, and Andrei Nazarov responded by inspiring his guys to play as if this was the biggest game of the season. Danila Alistratov was in flawless form, claiming his second clean sheet of the season.
The Kazan men, if not yet bewitched, seem at least bewildered. Their leaders are showing signs of weariness, and it seems no one else is ready to take command. With their prospects growing ever gloomier, who would bet things will be any different in the play-offs? Of course, by then they should show some motivation and attitude, but they really need some right now and they do not have the energy.
The day’s other matches produced the following results: Dinamo Riga - Dinamo Minsk 2-0, SKA – Dynamo Moscow 0-2, Metallurg Magnitogorsk - Lada 3-2, Salavat Yulaev - Barys 4-1, Severstal - CSKA 4-3 SO, Vityaz - Atlant 5-4 OT.
Dynamo Moscow goaltender Vitaly Yeremeyev (pictured) has now kept three straight clean sheets, amassing a total of 209 minutes without conceding - the record for this season. To break the KHL record, held by Stanislav Galimov of Kazan, Vitaly just needs to stay unbeaten for another 16 minutes.
Alexander Chernikov of Lada scored against Metallurg Magnitogorsk a mere 15 seconds into the final session, claiming the third fastest 3rd period goal of the season. The fastest of all, 8 seconds after the opening face-off, belongs to Avtomobilist defenseman Vladislav Otmakhov. Interestingly, Valeri Belousov’s team have conceded in the 41st minute on three occasions: to CSKA, Ak Bars and now Lada.
Gusmanov makes no mistake
Traktor forward Ravil Gusmanov is deadly in the shoot-out. He already has three successful shots under his belt, and two of these were the winners. In spite of this, he failed to beat Ak Bars keeper Petri Vehanen with a penalty shot awarded during the match.
Hockey is a tough game, and it is common for players to be helped from the ice by the medics. On Sunday, two players received injuries which prevented them from continuing: Alexei Badyukov of Ak Bars threw himself in the way of a shot from Traktor’s Oleg Piganovich and stopped the puck with the back of his head, and Atlant goaltender Martin Gerber collided heavily with an opponent.
Army Men surrender
It is the first time this season the capital’s Army Men have lost after scoring the first two goals. Until the defeat by Severstal, they had taken a two-goal lead in seven games and were not beaten once. On the other hand, the men from Cherepovets have now twice fought back from two down to claim victory.
Kozlov joins the top trio
Salavat Yulaev forward Viktor Kozlov is now in the top three players for scoring points which earn their team victory. He now has 10 points in his account, drawing level with Kazan’s Alexei Morozov. Out in front is Maxim Sushinsky: 15 times he has either scored the winning goal, or been part of the move in which his team clinched victory.
Dinamo Riga did not concede a single goal in a game for the first time this season, and for their goaltender, Egdar Masalskis, it is his second clean sheet playing in the KHL. His previous perfect match was on September 14, 2008, when the Riga club were 2-0 victors over Atlant.
Figures of the day
44 shots at the Barys goal by the Salavat Yulaev players.
65 shots at goal in the match between Severstal and CSKA.
31 minutes 31 seconds spent in play by Ak Bars defenseman Ilya Nikulin.
93.8% of 16 face-offs won by SKA attacker Petr Cajanek.
Danila Alistratov (Traktor). Saved 28 shots, including a regulation time penalty, and was excellent in the shoot-out.
Miroslav Blatak (Salavat Yulaev). Scored a goal, made an assist, and finished the match with an efficiency rating of +2.
Alexander Seluyanov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Scored the decisive goal and finished the match with a +1.
Alexander Avtsyn (Dynamo Moscow). Scored the first winning goal of his career.
Vadim Berdnikov (Vityaz). Scored the decisive goal in overtime, and set up two more.
Alexanders Nizivijs (Dinamo Riga). Took part in all three of his side’s scoring moves, with two goals and an assist.
“Everyone was fighting to the limit. But Alistratov was the best of all,” - Traktor head coach Andrei Nazarov.
“Our guys are very skilful, and sometimes they want their hockey to be as attractive as possible,” - Salavat Yulaev head coach Vyacheslav Bykov.
Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru