Result of the day
Traktor - Lada 4-2. This was no ordinary game on the fixture list, but a struggle for eighth place in the Eastern play-off zone. For the Ural men, who featured in the play-offs for the last two years, things are not going well, and even in spite of today’s win they are still a very long way from securing a place. Maybe Traktor and Sibir will stay in the top eight, maybe Lada will oust one of them, or maybe even plucky Avtomobilist, once creeping up to within four points of the treasured spot, will cause a sensation. Watch the calendar in January. With all these clubs in the mixer, anything can happen.

Besides, Lada just will not give up - this they have shown. No way could a club in surrender have achieved three straight clear victories. The Togliatti men, with all their problems, are now even hungrier against teams who can produce the odd lapse. The slightest mistake from their opponents is instantly punished by the automobile guys. But it is the same with the tractor guys.

Magnitogorsk lead the way
Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s victory over Neftekhimik makes them once again the KHL’s leaders. The last time the men from the Urals held the top spot was 14 games ago. This season Valeri Belousov’s team have only once dropped out of the top three: after the first four games Metallurg were down in fifth place.

Masters of the counter-attack
The Magnitogorsk men have struck their fourth short-handed goal of this championship. Besides Tomas Rolinek (pictured, on the right), Nikolai Pronin, Denis Platonov and Igor Radulov have also punished their opponents on the counter-attack. The leaders for short-handed strikes are Barys. Seven times the Astana men have punished complacent opponents while outnumbered.

Unlucky numbers
Lada have now lost by a 2-4 scoreline on four occasions, their most ‘popular’ losing score. Before Traktor’s victory, Lada, CSKA, and Minsk Dinamo had also beaten Lada by this scoreline, but for Traktor it is their first 4-2 win of the season.

Togliatti take advantage
In the game against Traktor, both Lada goals were scored in powerplay. Lada have now made the extra man count 35 times, the 11th best in the League on this score, and by percentage (17.5%) they are ninth. as for scoring with the most common advantage, five on four, Lada’s percentage (16.06%) is beaten by only five clubs.

Avtomobilist now have their fourth shoot-out victory of the season, drawing level with Dinamo Minsk and Amur. The leaders for shoot-out wins, Atlant and Severstal, met yesterday.

Under fire
For the first time this season, Denis Franskevich faced 40 shots on his goal. Before today, the busiest day for the Avtomobilist keeper was when Spartak fired off 37 strikes. But the percentage of shot’s saved, 95%, is nothing to Denis. In the game against HC MVD, also in this holiday season, Franskevich saved 96.2%, against Metallurg Novokuznetsk in October he saved 96.3%, and against Sibir - 95.2%. In three of four games where Denis beats away at least 95% of attempts on his goal, his team has collected points, and only HC MVD have beaten the Yekaterinburg men despite Franskevich’s exploits.

Figures of the day
65 shots on goal in the match between Avtomobilist and Ak Bars.

40 of these were from Ak Bars.

7 shots at goal by Traktor attacker Alexei Zavarukhin.

28 minutes 53 seconds spent in play by Ak Bars defenseman Ilya Nikulin.

81.3% of face-offs won by Traktor attacker Pavel Boychenko.

Key players
Denis Franskevich (Avtomobilist). Saved 38 shots and was unbeaten in the shoot-out.

Grigory Panin (Ak Bars). Featured in one goal, and finished the match with an efficiency rating of +1.

Alexander Seluyanov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Scored a goal, and earned a rating of +2.

Evgeny Skachkov (Traktor). Scored in Lada’s empty net, finished the game with a +2.

Alexei Zavarukhin (Traktor). Was the most active of his team’s attackers with 7 shots, and struck the winning goal.

Tomas Rolinek (Metallurg Magnitogorsk). Scored the winning goal when his team was outnumbered.

“Maybe for the first time in two years I have a free hand - I have a selection of players and I can objectively choose those who are in the best form,” - Traktor head coach Andrei Nazarov.

“We started the first period badly, kind of stood and watched while they played good, powerful hockey,” - Sergei Svetlov, acting head coach at Lada.

Alexei Shevchenko,

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