The defeat of Lokomotiv

The confrontation between the fourth and fifth teams of the Western Conference could easily be called one of the most anticipated in the first round of the KHL playoffs.

In the lead-up to it, CSKA looked more vulnerable than ever, which gave Lokomotiv an excellent chance to put an end to the unsuccessful streak.

Over the past three years, Yaroslavl and Muscovites met each other three times in the Gagarin Cup and each time the hockey players from the capital prevailed.

But as the first match of the series showed, many were wrong to give up on the current champions.

Yes, according to statistics, the railway workers, who usually focus on defense, surpassed the army team and made 1.6 times more shots on target (38:23).

But almost half of them came in the final period, which they started with the score 0:4.

And no matter how hard the hosts tried later, they were unable to take Ivan Fedotov by surprise and prevent him from scoring his first goal in the playoffs.

For CSKA, at the key moment of the competitive year, the leaders emerged from the shadows, having performed rather mediocre throughout the regular season.

The main creator of success was Mikhail Grigorenko.

Already in the sixth minute, he irresistibly “shot” into touch from the boundaries of the right throw-in circle, and then showed himself twice as an assistant.

First, he found Anton Slepyshev with a pass during the power play, and then took part in a combination that ended with Nikita Nesterov’s precise click from the blue line.

The point was made by Vitaly Abramov, who turned out to be the most efficient on the penny.

By the way, this time one of the carriers of shells was CSKA's top scorer in the championship, Konstantin Okulov.

The fiasco of the favorites of the East

But if CSKA’s victory over Lokomotiv hardly fell into the category of “sensation,” then the failure of the Eastern Conference giants did.

And in this regard, even more unexpected was the defeat not of Ak Bars, which was going through a crisis, from Avtomobilist, but of Salavat Yulaev, for whom everything immediately went awry in the meeting with Traktor.

Already in the fifth minute, the Ufa team made a grave mistake and allowed Alexander Sharov to score in the minority.

And in the middle of the second period we conceded a goal in a four-on-four game.

Albert Yarullin entered the opposing zone without interference and fired a backhand shot right into the far corner, leaving Alexander Samonov out of action.

Viktor Kozlov's team ran forward and restored parity before the break.

With a difference of 110 seconds, Danil Bashkirov and Mikhail Naumenkov lit up their names on the scoreboard.

Moreover, in the first case, the referees had to turn to video replays, because a second before the puck hit the goal, Alexander Sharov crashed into the visiting goalkeeper.

However, his fall was caused by a trip by a Traktor defender, as a result of which the attack on the goalkeeper was not recorded.

As a result, the Ufa team surpassed the Chelyabinsk team both in the number of shots on target (34:27) and in expected goals (xG), but this time fortune was not on their side.

Zach Fucale caught the courage and made 11 saves in the last period, and two and a half minutes before the end, Grigory Dronov brought victory to the guests.

The defender not only scored for the first time for Traktor, but also scored his 100th point in the KHL.

Like Salavat, Ak Bars also created many more dangerous chances than their opponents.

But if the Ufa team outperformed their counterparts in xG by 1.3 times, the Kazan team was 2.7 times higher.

Based on statistics, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team should have upset Evgeniy Alikin five times, but in fact they scored only once.

In the middle of the third period, Vadim Shipachev scored in the power play, but thereby only reduced the gap and at the same time established the final score of the confrontation - 1:2.

In turn, Avtomobilist scored all its goals in the first period.

Sergei Shirokov, who played the 800th match in his career, gave himself a gift and created a masterpiece, hitting the top nine of Timur Bilyalov’s goal in the majority.

And less than four minutes later, Nick Ebert followed suit.

Nikita Tryamkin's long-range shot, although inaccurate, forced the goalkeeper to lose position, which the American took advantage of.

Successes of Avangard and Spartak

But other favorites of the East performed more successfully.

Avangard did not notice any resistance from Lada and won a crushing victory.

Already by the 28th minute, they forced Vladislav Podyapolsky to capitulate four times, and subsequently did this for the fifth time, while they themselves conceded only once (5:1).

At the same time, only 18-year-old Mikhail Gulyaev scored more than one point - first he assisted Nikolai Prokhorkin, and then he scored himself.

But the best KHL sniper Reed Boucher interrupted his seven-game dry streak, scoring 44 goals in the regular season.

True, most fans remember not this, but the massive brawl in the third period.

But if Avangard was noticeably stronger than Lada, which was reflected not only in the final score, but also in the statistics of shots on goal (47:23), then Metallurg had a much harder time.

To the surprise of many, Amur, which finished only in eighth place, provided worthy competition to the leader of the East.

During the first two segments, the Khabarovsk team never allowed Igor Bobkov to be upset, and when they did falter twice, they did not give up their oars and continued to fight on equal terms with the favorite.

Five minutes before the siren, the guests staged a real siege of Ilya Nabokov's possessions and, through the efforts of Jan Drozg, finally pushed the puck into the net.

But “Cupid” was not enough for more.

Accurate hits by Yegor Yakovlev and Luke Johnson nevertheless tipped the scales in favor of Metallurg and brought the hosts a crucial victory (2:1).

At the same time, Dmitry Silantiev made 59 saves between Nabokov and Bobkov in the dispute for the title of the main star of the meeting.

The young striker took part in both of Magnitka’s productive attacks, notching two assists.

Spartak almost lost their advantage.

True, Alexei Zhamnov’s team led by as much as three goals, each of which had a hand in the hands of representatives of the leading three Muscovites.

And if Nikolai Goldobin demonstrated his dispatcher skills twice, then Pavel Poryadin first abandoned it himself, and then helped Michal Czajkowski do it.

Ivan Morozov did not leave without points either - he had a pass.

Moreover, the red-whites created this groundwork in just ten minutes.

But Severstal did not lose heart and after 30 seconds they took Dmitry Nikolaev by surprise for the first time, and in the middle of the third period they achieved this again.

The third sniper of the season, Kirill Pilipenko and Danil Aimurzin (1 + 1), distinguished themselves, along with Mikhail Ilyin (0 + 2).

And if not for the goalkeeper’s fantastic saves, the Cherepovets could have easily sent the game into overtime.

But Spartak still survived (3:2).

The long-awaited victory for Torpedo

They expected success from another Western Conference favorite.

Before the start of the series, literally everything spoke for SKA - an impressive performance in the regular season, the excellent form of the leaders and the failure of Torpedo in the end, which lost in seven matches in a row.

And although the guests’ coach Igor Larionov appeared in a flash interview wearing a T-shirt with the inscription “The Possible is Possible” and literally radiated confidence in his players, it was hard to believe in another sensation.

Nevertheless, it happened, and it was witnessed by 23,905 spectators - a record figure in the history of the KHL.

Already in the seventh minute, Sergei Goncharuk punished his opponent for being carried away with the attack and scored in the minority, and 81 seconds later Vasily Atanasov took advantage of the mistake of the most productive SKA hockey player in the person of Alexander Nikishin and doubled the advantage.

And thus forced Roman Rotenberg to take desperate measures - the main goalkeeper Nikita Serebryakov went to the bench, and Pavel Moisevich sat in the frame.

But that didn't help.

Yes, the St. Petersburg team picked up the pace and began to bombard the Nizhny Novgorod team, but before the final period they only managed to get within one accurate shot.

Atanasov responded to the goals of Vasily Glotov and Sergei Tolchinsky with his second goal.

And although in total the hosts disturbed Ivan Kulbakov as many as 44 times, he did not miss any more.

And in the end, Torpedo field hockey players supported their teammate and hit the empty target twice, setting the final score (5:2).

The double was scored by the same Goncharuk, and Vladislav Firstov made the point.