Kazan's impressive comeback

MAR.4 (KAZAN, RHI) -- Vladimir Plyuschev lost an opportunity to regain some ground on Ivan Hlinka's team, which despite going through crisis, detached itself in the standings from even more struggling Ak Bars during recent weeks.

Since Russia's National head coach took control behind Kazan's bench his team had trouble winning at home. Particularly in its last three home matches - all loses, including two by shut-outs.

Ak Bars' fans skepticism and malcontent raised with teams inability to perform in the opening period, as the visitors headed for the intermission with a comfortable three goal lead. Ak Bars' defensive zone coverage was futile, while up front Kazan's forwards  had little imagination and creativity to complement an impressive sense of desperation with which they battled for every inch of the ice surface.

Avangard went ahead two minutes into the game. From Wayne Gretzky's office Pavel Patera fed the puck to Tomas Vlasak in the slot area and RSL's leading scorer drew it past Andrei Tsarev.

38 seconds later Saifullin rushed into Kazan's zone down the right side and took a low shot from the top of the circle that Tsarev wasn't able to contain. Artyom Chernov went to the net with authority and backhanded in the rebound.

Third goal was scored with less than two minutes left to play in the period. With a long pass to the red line Stanislav Shalnov sent Patera on a two-on-one rush with Vlasak. Fedor Tyutin played the sequence poorly allowing Patera to slide a perfect pass right on Vlasak's tape. Tomas had no trouble beating Tsarev for his second tally of the evening.

No one knows what kind of tirade Plyuschev submitted his players to in the intermission, the fact is they played as a totally different bunch in the remaining two periods and the OT.

Halfway through the second, the home side was back into game trailing Omsk by just a goal.

First at 5:56 Danis Zaripov demonstrated a tremendous hunger for the puck, as he fought of Dmitry Ryabykin's check, than chased Yuri Panov behind Avangard's net, finished his hit, stripped defender of the puck and despite being off balance was able to pass it in the slot whereas Alex Korolyuk followed with a one-timer, beating Alexander Viyukhin on the glove side.

At 11:58 while his team had a man advantage Korolyuk niftly redirected Dmitry Erofeev's point shot past Viyukhin.

Three minutes into the third Ak Bars equalized. Chernov lost his balance inside the defensive zone and gave the puck away to Zaripov who demonstrated his outrageous slapper from the top of the right face-off circle. Viyukhin barely saw the puck going in, as he was bugged by Sergei Zinoviev.

Frankly, the home side should had won it all, as they had enough chances in the closing minutes of the regulation and in the overtime. However Avangard's goalie Viyukhin was otstanding, finishing the night with 33 saves.

SUPERLEAGUE ROUNDUP

Molot-Prikamie 1, CSKA 6
Unbelievable! Viktor Tikhonov's CSKA won for the six straight game. Perm outshot CSKA 14-5 in the opening period. However the visitors headed for intermission with a comfortable three goal lead. Nikolai Semin and Vladimir Gorbunov scored from within the slot, while Alexander Polushin got his goal with a shot from the side of the crease. In the second youngster Vladimir Sevastianov registered his first career goal for Molot, while Alexei Shkotov scored for the third straight game for CSKA. Alexander Drozdetsky and Alexander Zhurik rounded up the scoring in the final period.

Krylia Sovetov 0, Salavat Yulaev 2
Normally the Soviet Wings officially vowed good bye to the RSL on Monday. However there's still hope for them and other bottom four losers to remain in the Superleague if the March 14th PHL summit would decide to expand the league to 20 teams, instead of cutting it to 16 - as it was decided last year (many allready call such proposition a severe blow to RSL's credibility... Russia has to be the only hockey country where the rules could be changed back and forth, while the procedure is in process)... Salavat scored twice on the power-play, while Konstantin Simchuk had to make just 16 saves for his third shut-out of the season. Ufa holds still the eighth and last play-off spot, two points ahead of CSKA... The Wings failed to win for 17th straight game. Their last victory goes back to December 8 against Mechel (2-1).

Spartak 2, Neftekhimik 1
With a win Spartak moved within two points to the desired 14th spot in the standings... Spartak played without rugged winger Andrei Postnov, who'll miss the rest of the season with a broken collar bone... Andrei Medvedev made 21 saves and registered his third win in 13 appearances this season.

SKA 3, Metallurg Nk 2 OT
All of SKA's three goals came from the blue line. Anton Babchuk and David Cooper scored with powerful blasts, while the overtime goal by Andrei Kozyrev came on a weak wrister, as the puck snicked by partially screened Vadim Tarasov... St.Petersburg's key contributor - netminder Sergei Naumov registered 28 saves... Evgeny Lapin and Denis Tyurin scored for Metallurg.

Sibir 3, Amur 0
An important victory for Vladimir Golubovich side, as Sibir further distanced itself from the relegation zone. Meantime the lose came as severe blow to Khabarovsk's chances to advance to the play-offs... Edmonton Oilers draftee Alexei Mikhnov scored his six goal of the season in the second period. Mikhnov skated on the fourth line with Buffalo Sabres' prospect Artyom Kryukov. Kryukov played for the first time in a while and was ejected from the game after the second period for instigating a brawl after the (period ending) horn.

Severstal 0, Lada 1
Lada's Maxim Mikhailovsky registered his league leading 8th shut-out this season, making 21 saves against Severstal that played without several of its key players (Kalyuzhny, Nikitenko, Vujtek)... Viktor Chistov was back in Severstal's net for the first time since last October. Former Russian National managed 19 saves and was beaten only by Alexander Gutov's shot late in the second period... Severstal couldn't buy a goal for second game in a row.

Mechel 2, Metallurg Mg 2
Mechel outshot Magnitogorsk 43 to 15, but couldn't generate more than a point. Metallurg's netminder Igor Karpenko registered 41 saves, including an overtime penalty shot stop against veteran Igor Varitsky... With four games left to play Chelyabinsk is six points behind 14th ranked SKA in a battle for survival.

Lokomotiv 6, Dynamo 3
Jan Peterek scored his 10th goal of the season and added two assists to lead Lokomotiv to 6-3 victory over Moscow Dynamo... Loko is 12-0-2 in its last 14 games.

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