Result of the day
Neftekhimik - Ak Bars 3-1. The Kazan club have lost another Tatarstan derby, the second most important clash of the season for them and their fans. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team has recently shaken off a crisis, they boast one of the best goaltenders in the championship in Petri Vehanen, and have been further strengthened by the arrival of Roman Kukumberg and Hannes Hyvonen. Nikolai Lemtyugov was also courted. As for their defense, it’s already strong enough, on paper at least. And yet, in play, things are just not happening for them.

Vladimir Krikunov’s time in charge of Neftekhimik has also seen problems with the defense, indeed the last time they conceded just the one goal was seven games ago. Then again, that was against Metallurg Magnitogorsk. It seems Neftekhimik have been learning to hold their own against the League’s leaders, and this is a good omen for the play-offs, now just a little over a month away.

Nizivijs’s triple strike
Alexanders Nizivijs of Dinamo Riga managed three shots at the Dinamo Minsk goal, and all three found the net. To top this, Nizivijs also equaled his personal record for the season by taking four points from the game, matching his haul against Dynamo Moscow, although on that occasion he earned all his four points from assists. Alexanders needed just 33 minutes 14 seconds to score his hat-trick - the 13th fastest of the current championship.

Blunt in attack
It is the first time in their KHL history that Moscow region’s HC MVD have failed to score in two consecutive games. The last time the club’s attackers were so toothless at the top level was back in February 2007, when the Militia Men lost 0-1 to Amur and followed this with a 0-2 defeat to Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

First time unbeaten
Vityaz goaltender Sergei Denisov (pictured) has earned the first clean sheet of his career. Playing in his 24th match of the season for the team doomed to be the League’s undisputed ‘weakest link’, he saved all 32 of Torpedo’s attempts on his goal. Denisov does not celebrate his 20th birthday until May of this year.

Unwelcome guests
Salavat Yulaev continue to be the championship’s most aggressive away side. Vyacheslav Bykov’s team has so far scored 91 times on their travels. The club least likely to abuse their hosts’ hospitality is Lada, who have managed a meager 37 away goals. Salavat are also level with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for having the best away defensive record, with both clubs having conceded just 53 times, although the men from the Urals have played one game less.

Shy of the shoot-out
The shoot-out in the game between Spartak and SKA was a bit of a rarity for both clubs. For the Red-and-Whites it was the eighth time this season, and for the Petersburg outfit it was only the fifth. Spartak’s record is four wins and four defeats, while the Army Men have now lost three to go against their two victories. The Muscovites also boast one of the League’s best records for goals conceded in the shoot-outs, a mere 11 to date, while SKA’s is even better - just 7 of the shots they have faced have found the target.

Figures of the day
44 shots at the Severstal goal from the Lokomotiv players.

9 shots at goal by Dinamo Minsk attacker Jeff Platt.

73.7% of 19 face-offs won by Torpedo attacker Grigory Shafigulin.

25 minutes 29 seconds spent in play by Ak Bars defenseman Ilya Nikulin.

Key players
Sergei Denisov (Vityaz). Saved all 32 shots on his goal in the game against Torpedo.

Denis Sokolov (Sibir). Scored two goals in powerplay, his first double in the KHL.

Oleg Tverdovsky (Salavat Yulaev). Made an assist, finished with an efficiency rating of +1.

Sergei Demagin (Neftekhimik). Added a goal, an assist, and a rating of +1 to his account.

Alexanders Nizivijs (Dinamo Riga). Scored a hat-trick and also supplied an assist.

Andrei Kiryuhin (Lokomotiv). Scored one goal, supplied the pass for another, and earned a +2.

“In games like these you have to go out and die for the cause, and I can count on the fingers of both hands those players who gave their all,” - Severstal head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov.

“I already had some doubts about our forwards - for them to be kept quiet two games running is not acceptable,” - HC MVD head coach Oleg Znarok.

“I think we played on our usual level,” - Avtomobilist head coach Marek Sykora.

Alexei Shevchenko,

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