Result of the day
CSKA - Ak Bars 3-4. In the recent TV program, “Ice Continent”, former Severstal coach Andrei Pyatanov calculated that the Army Men need only to win half of their remaining matches to make it to the play-offs, but Sergei Nemchinov’s team’s attempt to fulfill his prediction has begun with a defeat.
However, how much can we expect from a team missing three central forwards? Centers are a scarce enough commodity, and to suddenly lose three from one position is a serious matter. Sheer emotion can get you through one match, and so the Army Men conquered Lokomotiv, but in this second encounter with classy opponents desire alone was not enough.
Ak Bars gladden the heart. While not all of their problems have gone away, they are clearly emerging from their crisis, probably not least because they have managed to solve the goaltender problem - Petri Vehanen to the rescue. He is calm, reliable, and even after conceding a bizarre goal he kept his head, and all from Kazan accepted it as just a fluke. So now Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team are up to fourth place in the conference.
Moscow’s Army Men have now suffered six defeats this season in games where they have opened the scoring. It should be no surprise, however, that the latest was inflicted by Ak Bars. The Kazan men are fifth best in the league for scoring points after a bad start to the game. They have now conceded first in 20 games, but have fought back to win nine of them.
Crisis at Neftekhimik
It is the first time this season Neftekhimik have lost in regulation time for three straight games. The record losing run in this championship from Vladimir Krikunov’s team is four matches, but one of these defeats was via the shoot-out.
First time in the zone
Yekaterinburg’s Avtomobilist are in the play-off zone for the first time this season. Marek Sykora’s team earned their first appearance in the top eight of the Eastern conference thanks to their victory over Neftekhimik.
Six goals, but only for Lada
It is only the second time this season Vityaz have managed to score more than five goals in a game. Lada were also the victims the first time, although then the men from Chekhov won in the shoot-out. It is worth noting that all the goals for Alexei Yarushkin’s team came from the players with reputations as fighters, and Brandon Sugden grabbed his first goal of the season.
Figures of the day
43 shots at the Avtomobilist goal from the Neftekhimik players.
81.3% of 16 face-offs won by Neftekhimik attacker Denis Arkhipov.
24 minutes 58 seconds spent in play by Lada defenseman Ivan Lekomtsev.
Denis Franskevich (Avtomobilist). Saved 41 shots, bringing his team victory over Neftekhimik.
Vladislav Otmakhov (Avtomobilist). Finished the game with an efficiency rating of +1, scored the winning goal.
Alexei Yemelin (Ak Bars). Finished at a +2, spent more than 19 minutes on the ice.
Joshua Gratton (Vityaz). The new boy at Vityaz exceeded all expectations, adding another goal, an assist, and a +2 to his account.
Brandon Sugden (Vityaz). Scored the game-winner against Lada.
Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars). Ended his five-game dry spell with both a goal and an assist.
“Three days ago we played really well against SKA - most of all, in attack, we were scoring. Because of this there was still a kind of euphoria today,” - Neftekhimik head coach Vladimir Krikunov.
“Our opponents had more shots, but almost everything went our way today”, - Avtomobilist head coach Marek Sykora.
Alexei Shevchenko, khl.ru