Lokomotiv held on to defeat Metallurg 3-2 in the game of the day in Yaroslavl, while Severstal enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 success at home to Traktor.
This clash saw fourth place in the West entertain fourth in the East – and a close game was in prospect. A month earlier, Metallurg took the verdict 3-2 but this time Lokomotiv got its revenge with a repeat of that scoreline.
Although the third period ended up as tight as expected, the first two were very much in favor of the home team. Danil Yurtaikin put Loko up in the second minute, claiming his second goal of the season. That was the only score of an even opening frame, but Brandon Kozun notched twice in the second stanza to put Loko in control. First he wrapped up a scintillating two-on-one breakout with Andrei Loktionov, then Petri Kontiola sent him clean through to make it 3-0.
Metallurg unveiled its new Czech center, Michal Bulir, who was brought in to play as a center after Wojtek Wolski’s departure freed up a space for another import. Bulir has been dubbed the ‘new Kovar’ by fans hoping he can repeat the success of his compatriot with Magnitka, and Bulir made a positive start with a goal on his first appearance when he pounced on a defensive error from Alexander Yelesin. That came in the third period and sparked a revival: two minutes later Maksim Matushkin potted a second to make it a one-goal game. Bulir came close to an equalizer when he hit the post in the 55th minute but Ilya Konovalov was not beaten again and Lokomotiv took the win.
This game brought together two opponents hoping to gain ground on the playoff pack – and it was Severstal that managed to build on a narrow loss against Metallurg to take a confidence-boosting win.
The home team saw recent signing Evgeny Grigorenko get his first goal since joining the club. Grigorenko made his debut against Magnitka, one of his former clubs, and opened his account in his second outing for Severstal. Another newcomer, Evgeny Korotkov, was among the assists to record his first point for the Cherepovets outfit.
That was the third goal on the night, early in the final period, and it more or less confirmed the outcome. Earlier we saw a first session with no goals and few chances before Severstal went ahead midway through the game. Konstantin Korneyev opened the scoring and the veteran defenseman added a helper as Ivan Zakharchuk doubled the lead moments before the second intermission. Igor Geraskin added a fourth late in the game, Dominik Furch posted his first shut-out for Severstal.