Teenager Rodion Amirov was the star for Salavat Yulaev, following up his goal yesterday with a game-winning performance as the Ufa team defeated Neftekhimik and recorded its first win in Nur-Sultan.
Not for the first time here, Neftekhimik took an early lead. This time it was youngster Bulat Shafigullin who opened the scoring in the fifth minute. However, a 5-on-3 power play at the start of the second stanza gave Amirov the chance to pot his second goal in two days and tie the scores.
That was enough to take us all the way to a shoot-out where, once again, Amirov made the decisive contribution. That earned Salavat Yulaev its first victory of the tournament.
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 SO (1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)
Goals: 0-1 Shafigullin (Khisamutdinov 4:07); 1-1 Amirov (Soshnikov, Burmistrov 20:33 PP); 1-2 Amirov (65:00 penalty shot)
Goalies: Sharychenkov – Kareyev
Rodion Amirov, forward, Salavat Yulaev
It was a competitive game, everyone worked hard and in the end it was a good team victory. When you’re playing with skilled guys like Sasha (Burmistrov) and Nikita (Soshnikov), it’s not hard to score – you just need to be ready and get into the right place at the right time.
Was it hard to play three games back-to-back?
It’s always fun to play hockey, especially after the first game where I didn’t get all that much time on the ice. We have medical staff who help us recover properly, so we always have the strength to play.
After two one-goal losses, what did the coach ask you to do differently today?
He told us to play the full 60 minutes, to fight to the end of every play and play to win.
Bulat Shafigullin, forward, Neftekhimik
It was a good game against a good opponent. We just didn’t have enough in front of goal to convert our chances, especially on the power play. I think we started every game well here but in the second periods we fell away and couldn’t make up the lost ground. There’s still time to work on that before the season starts.
After a tough battle against Salavat Yulaev, Avtomobilist head coach Andrei Martemyanov rested all his imports. That meant disappointment for fans in Nur-Sultan hoping to see former Barys favorite Nigel Dawes in action. The host, meanwhile, was back to full strength with its top line returning to the fray after a two-day break and Darren Dietz back as captain.
In the first period, Avtomobilist ran into penalty trouble and Barys took advantage to open a two-goal lead thanks to markers from Dmitry Shevchenko and Iiro Pakarinen. The middle session saw more ill-discipline from both teams, but only Nikita Mikhailis found the net as Barys extended its lead.
In the third, though, Avto hit back. Andrei Obidin got an early power play goal, then late in the frame Stepan Khripunov made it a one-goal game. The clock ran down before the visitor could complete the comeback and Barys held on to close in on victory in its home tournament.
The Kazakh team is on six points from three games. In theory Ak Bars or Avtomobilist could match that, but the tie-break would be goal difference rather than head-to-head results, giving Barys a significant advantage going into the final day’s play.
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 3 (0-2, 0-1, 2-0)
Goals: 0-1 Shevchenko (Knight, Boyd 13:09); 0-2 Pakarinen (Dietz, Helewka 19:17 PP); 0-3 Mikhailov (Svedberg, Blacker 38:29); 1-3 Obidin (Kucheryavenko, Vasilevsky 40:53 PP); 2-3 Khripunov (Tryamkin, Vasilevsky 56:57 PP)
Goalies: Fomin – Pasquale
Iiro Pakarinen, forward, Barys
In the first period they were much quicker than us and we had real problems in our zone, even though we scored two goals. It’s summer hockey, you score a goal then forget about it because there are more important things that we need to improve before the start of the season. I thought we were better in the second period, we controlled more of the game. In the third, Avtomobilist worked hard to try to tie the game. We had a bit of defending to do and we didn’t always do it very well, but Eddie [Pasquale] did well to keep us in the game.
Andrei Martemyanov, head coach, Avtomobilist
I felt that it was an even game. We saw lots of penalties, lots of desire, the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds.
Why did Nigel Dawes not play, when the Nur-Sultan crowd surely wanted to see him?
He’ll play tomorrow, everyone is welcome. He’s got nothing to prove, he showed last season what he can do so we’ve put him on his own schedule, closer to what we see in the regular season when we play every other day. Our newcomers played three games with only one day’s break but the older, more established players like Dawes, Platt or Bodrov only played two. There’s still plenty of hockey to come for us.