Jokerit loses out to Avangard, Minsk keeps up its winning run. September 2929 September 2020, 23:00
(1) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1
(4) Atlant Moscow Region 6
Atlant lead the series 1-0
After this game the Lokomotiv players declined invitations to talk to the press, and it is hard not to sympathize with their desire to reflect on the night's events on their own. Everyone in sport understands that surprise defeats sometimes happen, but such a comprehensive thrashing can induce depression. Allowing six goals at home to the most cautious of opponents? Unthinkable!
"Our scores are 2-1, 3-2, but not 6-1," smiled Mytishchi attacker Oleg Petrov after the game. "We were lucky at times, sure, but then again kept on trying to play to our own rhythm. And I admit we had some difficult spells, especially in the second period."
The Atlant players answered all requests to comment on the performance of Lokomotiv goaltender Dimitrij Kotschnew with a firm shake of the head. "It is not for us to rate other team's players," said Alexei Glukhov. "And what's more, can everything be down to the goalie? That's not right."
But no-one will deny that Kotschnew did not have his greatest performance. The blame for a couple of the goals can be laid at his door, but more importantly, the visitors managed to get themselves superbly prepared. "I believe the score in a game is decided by the number of mistakes, and we made a lot fewer," noted defenseman Ilya Gorokhov.
Head coach Milos Riha, however, still managed to find shortcomings in his team's efforts and did not solely speak about the success: "I didn't like the way we played in the second period, letting our opponents put pressure on us. But on the whole, to win 6-1 in Yaroslavl - that's just fantastic."
It was a moment at the end of that second period which possibly proved decisive. In the 28th minute Josef Vasicek reduced the deficit to 1-3, and the Yaroslavl men followed up by laying siege to the Atlant goal, sometimes camping in their opponents' zone for a minute at a time. But with just 47 seconds before the break, Jan Marek pounced when Kotschnew struggled to gather the puck, and the officials signaled a goal.
Those in the stands were mystified by what was happening. Kotschnew stood on the spot, not moving, hoping for the officials to signal that he had the puck under control, but none came. Three Lokomotiv defensemen had also lost sight of the puck, yet Marek had nonetheless pushed it into the net.
For Lokomotiv it was a crushing blow, one from which they would not recover, and so they offered little resistance in the third period. In spite of the final score, it was Konstantin Barulin who was named as Atlant's most valuable player for an outstanding performance between the pipes.
But Lokomotiv clearly must think of something in time for Game 2. Granted, there is little one can do when it seems practically every shot at your goal finds the target, but Kotschnew has never before suffered a sequence of several poor games in a row, and Atlant would be foolish to count on him doing so in this series.
Another unpleasant surprise for Lokomotiv came from their fans. With the scoreboard showing 1-5, many headed for the exits, and having clearly noticed this the team swiftly allowed a sixth goal. "I don't believe in that superstition saying you mustn't score too many in one game because there'll be none left for the next," said Gorokhov. "It's all nonsense. We need to just play and not think about old wives' tales."
Alexei Shevchenko, Yaroslavl