Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (0-3, 1-0, 1-0)

(Traktor leads the series 3-0)

Traktor’s youngsters have been a feature of this season’s playoffs – and Vitaly Kravtsov made a splash in game three of the series against Neftekhimik.

Kravtsov, 18, already had an overtime winner from game one to his credit; here, he grabbed two goals in 59 seconds to set Traktor on its way to a commanding lead in the series before the first period was out. The youngster’s contribution was a highlight in a game marred by a record number of penalties in KHL playoff action – the teams combined for 155 minutes in total, surpassing the previous high established by Torpedo and Jokerit.

Photo: 07.03.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Playoffs. Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

However, while Kravtsov was enjoying an evening to remember, Neftekhimik’s Ildar Shiksatdarov had a game to forget. He was sitting in the box when Richard Gynge opened the scoring for Traktor, and Kravtsov’s double blast came as his team-mates tried to kill the major penalty he incurred for boarding.

Kravtsov took maximum advantage. For his first, he exchanged passes with Alexei Kruchinin the right-hand circle before putting a wrister beyond Ilya Ezhov. The same pair combined for his second, attacking down the other flank and releasing Kravtsov to advance from the face-off spot and beat Ezhov from close range. That spelled the end of the goalie’s evening.

Shiksatdarov’s penalty was not an isolated incident: in total, the teams compiled more than 100 PIMs, with misconduct calls against Oleg Piganovich, Alexei Petrov and Dmitry Ogurtsov, plus a fight between Pavel Poryadin and Marsel Sholokhov. So, it wasn’t all that surprising that Neftekhimik’s replies came when the teams were playing at unequal strength. First, Ogurtsov pulled a shorthanded goal back in the 28th minute, intercepting a Pavel Francouz pass and firing into an empty net with the Traktor goalie well away from his net. Then Andrei Sergeyev made it 2-3 on the power play, before another string of flashpoints saw Traktor’s Nikita Nikitin and Nick Bailen get 2+10 penalties for high hits, either side of Ogurtsov’s ejection for a similar offense. That took the penalty count beyond 145 minutes, setting a new KHL playoff record.

Andy Potts,
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