Result of the day
CSKA - HC MVD 2-5. There was a perception that the pairings in the Western conference play-offs are more evenly matched than in the Eastern, and that nothing would be decided after three games, and yet Oleg Znarok’s team has waltzed through Moscow’s Army Men seemingly without a second glance.

A sensation? Probably only on a subconscious level. CSKA are quite a strong team, albeit on paper, whereas HC MVD are a highly disciplined outfit. Indeed their biggest star, Alexei Kudashov, is out for the rest of the season through injury. But this season belongs to Oleg Znarok. It is he, and only he, who conquers their opponents. All that is left for the players to do is follow the coach’s instructions, and while they keep doing as they are told the results keep coming.

The level of discipline within the ranks of the Army Men is not of the highest order. Sergei Nemchinov himself has been complaining about unnecessary penalties, and also about weak play from his forwards. And in the play-offs, questions about ill-discipline and weakness are answered swiftly. Only the strong survive.

Has it occurred to anyone that in this game we could have been watching one of the Gagarin Cup finalists?

Powerplay kings
With their four powerplay goals, HC MVD now top the table for scoring goals while outnumbering the opposition, with six such goals in total from Oleg Znarok’s team. However, Salavat Yulaev are the more ruthless, as they have capitalized on a higher percentage of powerplays.

Earliest exit
It is the first time Moscow’s Army Men have fallen at the first round stage of the play-offs. The first hurdle had never previously posed any problems to CSKA, with them beating Severstal 3:1 in 2005/06, defeating Lada 3:0 the following year, then enjoying a 3:0 against Traktor, and last season overcoming Lada once again, 3:2. However, CSKA are no strangers to losing a series without winning a game - this is their third such experience in the last four years.

Petersburg’s Army Men have come from behind to win a play-off game for the first time in the two-year history of the KHL. Up to now, Barry Smith’s side had gone behind in three games and lost all three. In contrast, the men from Riga now have a more negative statistic: they have opened the scoring in three play-off games, but have gone on to lose two of them.

Second penalty shot
Today saw the second penalty shot of the current play-offs, awarded for a foul by Spartak’s Valery Pokrovsky on Dynamo’s Konstantin Panov, and successfully converted by Mattias Weinhandl. The first penalty shot was awarded in the Ak Bars vs Barys game, but Jarkko Immonen failed to score.

Persistent offenders
Spartak’s Martin Cibak, Alexander Buturlin and Denis Bayev plus Dynamo’s Dmitry Vorobyev have all been sent to the penalty box four times in these play-offs. Only two players have had more spells on the bad boys’ bench: Oleg Piganovich and Nikos Dimitrakos have both earned five.

Quick shower of goals
Lokomotiv and Atlant needed only 47 minutes and 54 seconds to score seven goals between them. It is the fastest seven goals so far in this season’s play-offs, although it is far from being a record for the KHL. Last season, Ak Bars struck seven against Avangard in almost half the time - only 25 minutes 11 seconds.

Figures of the day
42 shots by Spartak and Lokomotiv against Dynamo Moscow and Atlant respectively.

25 minutes spent on the ice by SKA defenseman Sergei Zubov.

80% of 15 face-offs won by SKA attacker Sergei Brylin.

Key players
Michael Garnett (HC MVD). Saved 19 shots, and gave superb performances in all three games against CSKA.

Sergei Zubov (SKA). Made an assist, and finished with an efficiency rating of +3.

Dmitry Vorobyev (Dynamo Moscow). Contributed two assists, and earned a rating of +2.

Vitaly Yachmenev (Dynamo Moscow). Scored one goal and supplied the decisive pass for another.

Josef Vasicek (Lokomotiv). Also scored a goal and made an assist.

Matt Ellison (HC MVD). Two more points to his account: a goal and an assist.

Alexei Shevchenko,

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