An unexpected outcome in the fight for the Continental Cup

There was a truly fierce fight for the Continental Cup in the regular season that ended.

At different times, Spartak, Metallurg, Lokomotiv, Dynamo and SKA rose to the top of the KHL summary table.

It was the last two teams that fought for the trophy at the finish line.

Initially, the St. Petersburg team looked like the favorites, being several points ahead of the blue and whites.

But Alexei Kudashov’s team put together an impressive winning streak of nine matches in February.

Not everything was easy for them.

For example, “Salavat Yulaev” and “Admiral” even managed to put the squeeze on at home only in overtime.

Moreover, in the confrontation with the Ufa team, the hosts saved themselves in the end by removing the goalkeeper.

A few days later, on the contrary, the “sailors” escaped defeat 17 seconds before the siren.

But Jordan Weal's goal helped the Muscovites gain the upper hand.

Roman Rotenberg's team could not keep up with the pace taken by the competitor.

Problems arose already in the match with Torpedo, during which he lost 1:3, but managed to make a comeback in the final period - 4:3.

But it was not possible to cope with Severstal, which had gained excellent momentum.

The St. Petersburg team conceded three unanswered goals and made their debut misfire at the SKA Arena.

But what was much more shocking was the defeat from Kunlun, which also took place in the Northern capital.

The favorite was supposed to play away, but the Chinese squad, due to the busy ice palace in Mytishchi, asked the opponents to hold a meeting in the city on the Neva.

As a result, even the support of their own fans did not help SKA.

And the main hero in the opposing team was Alexander Lazushin, who was playing only the eighth meeting this season.

The third goalie made an incredible 48 saves.

In the end, the St. Petersburg team reduced the gap to a minimum, but did not have time to escape.

Thus, Dynamo won the Continental Cup for the first time in ten years and for the second time in history.

However, in 2014 this did not bring the blue and white team any luck, as they, as reigning champions, lost to Lokomotiv in the opening round of the playoffs.

Now they are waiting for a stronger opponent in the form of their teammates from Minsk.

Amazing February Gusev

At the same time, Nikita Gusev pleased the fans.

In less than a year, he went from being expelled from the SKA roster for violating the regime to setting a performance record for the regular KHL championship.

The striker, like his partners, demonstrated excellent play in February and scored a total of 16 points.

And having realized the shootout in the confrontation with Severstal, he reached the mark of 85 and equaled the holder of the previous achievement, Sergei Mozyakin.

The historical event happened at an extremely important moment - in overtime of the match with Admiral.

The Russian left the ball to Wil in the opposing zone, and he moved forward and accurately threw it into the far corner over the goalkeeper's shoulder.

All the Muscovite hockey players immediately jumped onto the court, and the hero of the evening himself took the puck as a souvenir.

Later, he took a photo with her in the locker room, sticking a piece of paper with the numbers “86”.

Gusev didn’t stop there and scored an assist hat-trick in the derby with CSKA.

As a result, he not only won the scoring race with 89 points, but also turned out to be the best passer, notching 66 assists.

Nikita failed to take first place only in the list of snipers, where the position of Reed Boucher remained unshakable, having upset goalkeepers 44 times.

The American’s performance could have been more impressive if it weren’t for the seven-game dry streak at the end.

Fall of "Torpedo"

The sensation in St. Petersburg created an amazing intrigue on the final day of play - who will finish the regular season in seventh place in the Western Conference and will get to SKA in the first round of the playoffs.

In many ways, everything was determined in the head-to-head confrontation between Torpedo and CSKA.

The capital's army team prevailed on the road and beat their opponent in the table by one point.

In addition, in the event of a tie, the “automakers” would be lower, since they won fewer victories.

That is, the Muscovites in the derby with Dynamo were satisfied even with a defeat outside of regular time.

However, Igor Larionov's team briefly managed to rise to the coveted sixth position.

In the 13th minute, Mikhail Orlov put them ahead in the meeting with Lada, and the red and blue allowed Dmitry Rashevsky to score at the start of the second period.

Further events were no longer in favor of Torpedo.

Soon Anton Slepyshev restored the status quo in Moscow, and shortly before the break Maxim Mamin put the guests ahead.

Everything finally became clear after Nikita Nesterov blocked his partner’s cross at the far post.

Surely in Nizhny Novgorod they knew about what was happening in the parallel match.

Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the team’s failure in the final period.

Avtozavodtsy led 4:2, but allowed the guests to escape.

And in overtime, Tolyatti defender Evgeniy Kalabushkin put the finishing touches on the game.

Surprisingly, the confrontation in the capital followed a similar scenario.

Sergei Fedorov’s team, as if realizing that the main issue had been resolved, gave up fighting and allowed the blue and white to make another comeback, and Gusev to score an assist hat-trick.

Moreover, in overtime, the fateful goal, as in the recent meeting with Admiral, was scored by Wil.

Playoff rehearsal

Before anyone else in the West, the pair Spartak and Severstal was determined.

The red-whites were in the lead for a long time, but in 2024 they slowed down and fell back to fourth position in the conference table.

Cherepovets, on the contrary, made an impressive spurt and secured fifth place.

By the will of the calendar, they actually held a warm-up match as part of the regular season.

Alexey Zhamnov’s team faced great difficulties, but showed character.

In the opening period, Dmitry Nikolaev was upset by Dmitry Moiseev and Adam Liszka, and the hosts responded only with a goal from Demid Mansurov.

In the second period, the opponents exchanged goals from Pavel Poryadin and Danil Aimurzin.

However, the guests were ruined by indiscipline.

In the final period, they regularly violated the rules and received a total of ten minutes of penalty.

The opponents took advantage of this with pleasure and scored twice in the majority.

And in the end, Yegor Zaitsev hit an empty net.

The confrontation between Spartak and Torpedo turned out to be even more striking.

It became special for Nizhny Novgorod residents - the 1000th in the KHL.

In honor of this event, they took to the ice in retro uniforms from the debut season 2008/09, and Igor Larionov put on a T-shirt with the inscription “1000th match.”

For the fans, Vasily Atanasov’s return to action was an additional gift.

And it all started brilliantly for the “automobile manufacturers”.

At the start, they also punished the opponent for deletions and scored three times in less than ten minutes.

However, Ansel Galimov's accurate throw helped the Muscovites return to the game.

And at the equator of the meeting, the guests fell apart before our eyes.

They conceded four times in just 244 seconds.

Moreover, after the third goal, Ivan Kulbakov was replaced by Adam Guska.

Poryadin also scored 11 seconds before the break.

Yegor Savikov put the finishing touches shortly before the final siren.

Victory of Metallurg over Avangard

In the East, the battle for leadership was fought to the last by Metallurg and Avangard.

It is symbolic that the fate of the first line was decided in two head-to-head matches in February.

In the first, Omsk achieved what seemed like fateful success.

At the G-Drive Arena they scored three unanswered goals.

The score on the scoreboard did not correspond to the nature of the game, because the competitors had the advantage, but were unable to upset Pavel Khomchenko, who made 41 saves.

The main thing is that this allowed the “hawks” to rise to the top.

But instead of building on their success, they made two completely unnecessary misfires.

First they lost to Lada in overtime, and then to Traktor in a shootout.

Magnitogorsk, on the contrary, did not lose any more points and returned to first place.

In the last meeting, the paths of the eternal opponents crossed again - this time in Magnitogorsk.

The hosts were ahead of their opponents by a point and could even afford to lose outside of regular time, since they won more victories in the regular season.

At the same time, Mikhail Kravets’ team benefited from the Foxes’ personnel problems.

For various reasons, nine key performers were not included in the application at once: Ilya Nabokov, Alexey Maklyukov, Robin Press, Egor Yakovlev, Pavel Akolzin, Luke Johnson, Denis Zernov, Maxim Karpov, Nikita Mikhailis.

Andrei Razin even had to use two KHL debutants: Andrei Kozlov and Boris Osipovich.

But this did not stop the hosts from confidently gaining the upper hand.

Already in the 48th second, Nikita Grebenkin opened the scoring.

And in the second period, they took advantage of the guests’ failure in defense, and Vladislav Eremenko doubled the advantage.

After the break, Nikolai Prokhorkin reduced the gap, but in the end Igor Geraskin cleared up all questions.

Thus, Magnitogorsk still finished the regular season at the top and will now face Amur.

But Avangard will avoid flights to the Far East and will measure its strength with Lada.

At the beginning of February, it seemed that he would throw down the gauntlet to the Salavat Yulaev duet, but in the last six fights he lost four times and remained third.

Now he will face a strong Traktor in the playoffs.

Last ticket to the playoffs for Amur

If in the West the eight teams that would continue to fight for the Gagarin Cup were determined quite early, then in the East the intrigue in the battle for the last ticket to the playoffs lived almost until the very end.

It allowed her to revive the deduction of four points from Siberia for violating the limit on foreign players.

After this, the demoralized Novosibirsk residents were unable to gather their strength, although they still had a good chance of success.

Neftekhimik also unexpectedly fell into a protracted dive, achieving only two victories in the final eight matches.

In particular, Oleg Leontyev’s team lost twice to their direct competitor “Sibir”.

But “Amur”, which suffered nine defeats in a row at the start of the year, on the contrary, in February made an impressive finishing spurt of seven victories in a row and got into the top 8 of the conference for only the third time in history.

The extension of the contract in the winter with head coach Andrei Martemyanov also fully justified itself.