Traktor’s season might be over, but a South Ural derby is always a game to get excited about – and the Chelyabinsk team had the added incentive of escaping last place in the Eastern Conference with a win. Both teams shuffled their rosters for the occasion, with Magnitka giving teenage goalie Gleb Nosov a start and using Swedish defenseman Maksim Matushkin as a center.
The home team had much the better of the first period and turned its pressure into a goal in the 15th minute. Alexander Tridchikov saw his shot saved but Yegor Fateyev squeezed home the rebound from an ultra-tight angle. Metallurg improved in the second period, but fell further behind following a freak goal midway through the frame. A Vitaly Menshikov effort cannoned back off the boards and bounced into the net off a Metallurg skate to double the home lead.
Brandon Kozun pulled a goal back for Magnitka in the third but his team has more pressing concerns ahead when it begins its playoff campaign against Barys.
The Army Men have a proud record of topping the regular season table. The team has come top of the pile in four of the last five seasons and, last year, broke the ‘curse’ that had prevented the table-topper from going on to win the Gagarin Cup. This season, Igor Nikitin’s team was again in contention for the prize but needed to beat Sochi and hope that Ak Bars slipped up at home to Avtomobilist.
In that situation, all that a team can do is take care of its business and wait for news from elsewhere. And CSKA emphatically took care of its business. A Sochi team that saw its playoff hopes ended on Tuesday had no answers here. Alexander Popov opened the scoring in the second minute, Anton Slepyshev made it 2-0 in eighth and Artyom Blazhiyevsky added a third late in the opening session to take the game well away from the visitor.
The second stanza followed a similar pattern, with early goals from Mikhail Grigorenko and Sergei Tolchinsky, followed by a power play tally from Kirill Kaprizov. That was the end of the scoring, and it took Kaprizov to 33 goals for the season. He finishes at the leading goalscorer in the regular season, and his 62 (33+29) points place him third overall. CSKA secured top spot in the West and goes on to face Torpedo in the first round of the playoffs.
Ak Bars missed its chance to finish as regular season champion after slipping to defeat at home to Avtomobilist in its final game before the playoffs. The result did not affect the playoff standings in the East, but denied former CSKA head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov the chance to beat his former club to a trophy.
For the Motormen, meanwhile, this was a confidence boost ahead of a playoff series against Sibir. Andrei Martemyanov’s team finishes the regular season on a three-game winning streak. Today’s goals came from Geoff Platt – an early short-handed effort – and Nigel Dawes, on the power play midway through the game.
With its title chance fading fast, Ak Bars dominated the third period but could not find a way past Vladimir Galkin. The 19-year-old goalie, getting a rare run in the team while Jakub Kovar recovers from injury, stopped 43 shots to record his first KHL shut-out. And late in the game, a power play goal from Yefim Gurkin made sure of the outcome.
Dynamo missed its chance of taking third place in the West from Jokerit after a surprise loss at bottom club Dinamo Minsk. The Muscovites blew a 3-1 lead as Andrei Kostitsyn finished the season on a high with a hat-trick to haul his team back into the game.
The visitor made a great start to the game, opening the scoring in the second minute through Yegor Zaitsev and doubling that lead on a power play goal from Andrei Mironov five minutes later. Kostitsyn pulled one back, but free-scoring Dmitrij Jaskin restored the two-goal cushion before the intermission. Jaskin finishes in second place among point and goalscorers this season, with team-mate Vadim Shipachyov topping the ‘goal+pass’ rankings.
Then, everything changed. Kostitsyn potted two more in the middle frame to tie the scores before Alexander Pavlovich made it 4-3 in the 37th minute to settle the outcome. Dynamo’s defeat means it will face city rival Spartak in the playoffs; Minsk is ready to regroup for next season.
Vityaz overtook Torpedo at the last to claim second place in the West and set up another playoff meeting with SKA. However, Mikhail Kravets’ team did it the hard way, blowing a 4-2 lead in the last five minutes of this game against Lokomotiv before winning a shoot-out.
An even first period brought just one goal, with Ville Lajunen putting Vityaz ahead midway through the session. But the second stanza was much livelier as the teams traded four markers. Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov made it 2-0 early in the frame, but a short-handed goal from Mikhail Belyayev put Loko on the scoreboard. A minute later, Pavel Kraskovsky emerged from the box to tie the scores, only for a Lajunen power play tally to restore the home advantage.
Lajunen turned provider midway through the third to help Pekka Jormakka make it 4-2 and that two-goal cushion proved decisive. Lokomotiv pulled one back late on when Artur Kayumov knocked down a Rushan Rafikov to convert a power play, and Belyayev’s solo effort in the last minute took the game to overtime.
The first two attempts in the shoot-out were successful, but there was no further scoring until we got to sudden death. Then Grebenshchikov potted the game winner as Vityaz ended the regular season on a winning note.