G, Salavat Yulaev, 2 G, 2 W, 1 SO, 96.30%, GAA 0.98
The Finn had another tremendous week, even though Salavat Yulaev only played two games in this span. First, still in the old year, Metsola had a 31-save performance as Salavat Yulaev downed Metallurg in a hard-fought battle for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. In the KHL’s first game in 2021, the Ufa franchise faced Avtomobilist at home. In a tight goaltending duel, Metsola got the best over Czech Republic’s Jakub Kovar, and Salavat Yulaev got the two points with a close 1-0, OT win. In that match, Metsola had 21 saves, and posted his 28th KHL career shutout. Thanks to his efforts, the Finn goalie was awarded Best goalie honors last week.
F, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, 3 G, 7 (4+3) points, +5
The Finnish veteran has played his first game for Lokomotiv less than a month ago, yet it looks like he already found his niche in Yaroslavl. The Finnish forward started the week opening his account for goals with the Railwaymen netting one in the third period in Lokomotiv’s 4-3, OT defeat against Jokerit. Two days later, Lokomotiv suffered its second loss in a row against Torpedo, but Pulkkinen had an assist in Nikita Cherepanov’s 4-3 goal in the second period. It was Pulkkinen’s sixth helper for the season.
However, the Finn, who back in the days was awarded Best forwards honors at the 2010 U18 WJC, had his best game in the season so far on Sunday. Pulkkinen’s five points helped Lokomotiv thump Vityaz with a 7-1 score. Not only did Pulkkinen score a hat-trick, but it also was the third time in the KHL history for a player to have a five-point performance after Jozef Vasicek and Alexei Mikhnov did it in the past.
D, Jokerit, 3 G, 4 (0+4) points, −1
The American defenseman had a slow start of the season, but recently he’s gaining pace as he scored more than a point a game last week. The Nova Scotia native started the period assisting the opening goal in Jokerit’s 4-3, OT win over Lokomotiv on Dec. 28. Two days later, Grant assisted again on a Schroeder goal when he netted the game-winner against SKA in the second period. In its first game of 2021, the Finnish franchise faced CSKA in Moscow. The Jokers lost the game 4-5 — again in OT — but Grant had a pair of assists, including in the 4-4 goal with less than ten minutes to go in the third period. The Finnish franchise is currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference but has still some games to recover and a chance to overcome Dinamo Minsk in the standings.
F, Jokerit, 3 G, 5 (4+1) points, −1
The American forward was excellent for Jokerit in the past few games, scoring goals in all three games and making the most advantage from Alex Grant’s passes. In his second year in the KHL, the Minnesota native is enjoying an excellent production with the Jokers. Moreover, he also potted the game-winner in the showdown against SKA on Dec. 30 when he sent the puck home with a great wrist shot from the left circle during a powerplay.
With Jokerit battling to rise in the standings, the team’s head coach Lauri Marjamaki needs his North American players to step up and keep on producing.
F, Avangard, 3 G, 4 (3+1) points, +2
The Kladno native played some of his finest hockey in the current season, especially when Avangard defeated Traktor in a hard-fought game on Dec. 28. First, Sekac opened the score in the first period after an assist by Corban Knight. Then, with the teams stuck on a 3-3 score and the Hawks on a powerplay, he got the puck again from Corban Knight at some 10 feet from the crease, sending the puck past Ivan Fedotov with a laser-like wrist shot that won the game for Avangard. If that wasn’t enough, Sekac also found the time to assist in the 5-3 goal by Kirill Semyonov that sealed the deal for the Hawks.
After being left scoreless in Avangard’s 3-4 SO loss to Kunlun Red Star in 2020’s final game, Sekac scored his ninth goal of the season when the Hawks had their second L in a row, this time by the hand of Dinamo Minsk. However, despite the defeats, Avangard got one point from both contests and kept its second place in the Eastern Conference’s standings.
F, Severstal, 2 G, 4 (2+2) points, +2
The Cherepovets franchise only played two games in the period, with a win and a loss, but Berglund was instrumental for Severstal as he scored two points in each of the clashes.
Berglund, who moved to Severstal past half December after starting the season with Traktor, began with a goal and an assist in the Cherepovets side’s 7-2 win over Neftekhimik. The Malmo native opened the score after only seventeen seconds, then added another point to his total in the fifth minute, when he and Adam Liska assisted on Yegor Morozov’s 3-0 goal. He finished the game with a plus-3 rating as he was also on the ice when Morozov completed his double in the second period.
Two days later, Severstal lost 6-2 to HC Sochi, but Berglund appeared on both goals as he is now at four points in five games with his new team. The Cherepovets franchise is currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference and the postseason qualification is an attainable goal for the team led by Andrei Razin.