Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Ak Bars Kazan 2
There was some added spice in the latest Tatarstan derby as two players lined up against their former clubs for the first time. Mikhail Zhukov moved from Ak Bars to Neftekhimik while Evgeny Grigorenko made the reverse trip – and both made their debuts for their new employers in this game.
Zhukov had the more immediate impact, getting an assist on Geoffrey Kinrade’s goal in the 37th minute. Zhukov kept the puck in the Ak Bars zone and started a move that ended with the defenseman firing past Emil Garipov.
That wasn’t enough to save Neftekhimik in Andrei Nazarov’s first Tatarstan derby as head coach. Penalty trouble cost his team dearly, breaking the deadlock in the second period at a time when the host had a slight advantage on the shot count. That all changed when Ivan Lekomtsev and Andrei Sergeyev picked up minor penalties in quick succession, giving Ak Bars a two-man advantage for 94 seconds. Ziyat Paigin bossed the subsequent power play. First, he rifled in a one-timer off Anton Glinkin’s pass and seeing it deflect past Ville Kolppanen. Then he had an assist when Alexander Svitov turned in his shot to double the lead.
Two goals in 65 seconds handed Ak Bars control of the game and there was no way back for Neftekhimik despite Kinrade’s quick reply. The final stanza saw the home team outshoot its neighbor 15-8, but Garipov was seldom given a truly tough test, although Igor Polygalov and Richard Gynge both had their moments.
The win sees Ak Bars close to within two points of Metallurg Magnitogorsk at the top of the Eastern Conference, although Magnitka has four games in hand. Neftekhimik remains in eighth place, two points ahead of Barys having played two games more.