For Torpedo, locked in a deadly battle with Dinamo Minsk for the last remaining play-off spot, points are as precious as gold dust. At home to Barys today, the Nizhny Novgorod men raced to 2-0 lead only to throw it all away. Sadly for Vladimir Golubovich’s team, such a collapse is not new: the automobile factory men have enjoyed a 2-0 advantage in 14 games of the current campaign, but have contrived to lose four of them. Only SKA have a worse statistic on this count, with 5 defeats out of 18.
In mitigation for Torpedo we should note that today’s opponents are specialists at fighting back from 0-2; this was the fourth time Barys achieved such a victory, and now join Lokomotiv, Ak Bars, Sibir and Avtomobilist in the season’s top five teams for courageous comebacks. Percentage-wise, however, Barys are behind the other four, as the Astana club’s 4 wins must be set against 14 defeats, while the men from Yaroslavl and Kazan have only lost half as many.
The Minsk men took full advantage of Torpedo’s woes by defeating Traktor, and in doing so Dinamo reclaim 8th place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Nizhny Novgorod side. Things get interesting on the 18th, when Torpedo and Dinamo Minsk are both in action, against Avangard and Salavat Yulaev respectively. The Omsk men lead their division, conference, and indeed the overall KHL championship, while the Ufa team is the only one left with still a mathematical chance of overtaking Avangard on all three fronts.
With today’s triumph over Vityaz, Amur finally snapped their unhappy run of nine straight defeats – an unwanted club record for Alexander Blinov’s team. During this run the Khabarovsk men earned a paltry two points, with one defeat in overtime and another via the shootout, and the aggregate score was 14-34. In two of the nine losses they failed to score a single goal.
The Far East team’s previous longest losing streak came in the first KHL championship, when they lost eight in a row. That wretched spell included four shutout defeats, and moreover, all eight defeats were in regulation time.
With just two games left until the end of the regular season, Evgeny Tsaregorodtsev has unexpectedly taken the lead in the race to be the most ill-disciplined goalie of the championship. In his previous 16 games the Avtomobilist goaltender did not incur a single punishment from the officials, but the 30 minutes he earned in today’s clash with SKA propels him straight into first place, 8 minutes ahead of Bernd Bruckler and 14 ahead of Robert Esche, and it is hard to imagine anyone overtaking him at this late stage. But there is also little chance of Evgeny matching the KHL record set by Georgy Gelashvili, who amassed 78 minutes last season.
Figure of the day
66 games without a goal for the number one in the 2009 KHL draft, Mikhail Pashnin, until he finally scored today. For his previous strike, we must go all the way back to the 15th of November 2009.
Ivan Kasutin (Neftekhimik). Saved 26 shots out of 27.
Alexander Guskov (Lokomotiv). Spent over 22 minutes on the ice, supplied the pass for a goal and earned a +3.
Maxim Velikov (Dynamo Moscow). Scored a double.
Maxim Yakutsenya (Neftekhimik). Scored two goals, including the game-winner, set up one more and finished at a +3.
Daniel Corso (Dinamo Minsk). Had over 20 minutes of ice time, collected 2 points (1+1) and won more than 76% of his face-offs.
Alexander Korolyuk (Lokomotiv). Helped to create the winning goal, and scored two more himself.
Quotes of the day
“Honestly, I expected completely different hockey than what I got from our guys today. For example, an opponent fires the puck at our player, and he’s lifting his legs to get out the way,” Torpedo head coach Vladimir Golubovich.
“I don’t know what was going on in the first two periods, the guys weren’t moving with any confidence. In the third we woke up a little, scored a goal, and got the feel of the game,” Vityaz head coach Andrei Nazarov.
“We’re preparing for the play-offs and we just had a great practice session with real attitude and desire. What’s more, we’d previously lost at home to Spartak. Today we scored three short-handed goals. Maybe we were lucky,” Neftekhimik head coach Vladimir Krikunov.
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru