Ak Bars’ five-minute failure in Nizhny Novgorod
Torpedo’s comeback against Kazan – 3-2
Bilyaletdinov's wards cannot help finding adventures. Five minutes before the end of the match, the scoreboard showed 0-2 in favour of Ak Bars, while there was a sheer desperation in the actions of the hosts on the ice. Realnoe Vremya's report tells how the Kazan players conceded, and about Wilson's fail and Galimov's mistake in penalty shootout.
Long victorious series are an uncommon occurrence for Ak Bars in this season. But the match with Nizhny Novgorod's Torpedo could become the third continuous victory for Bilyaletdinov's wards. The previous successes in the matches with Amur and Minsk Dinamo cooled down Kazan's issue to reach the play-off. However, 'Volga derby' in Nizhny Novgorod is a quite principled confrontation in itself.
Fight for a victorious three-match series
Peteris Skudra's team brings up the top 5 of NHL Western Conference. Torpedo has already completed the task of getting into the eight teams of the cup and now is trying to be in the first four participants in order to take the advantage of their own ice in the first round of the play-off. It should be noted, not without luck. Nizhny Novgorod players, as well as their colleagues from Kazan, won the last two matches at 4-1 against Riga Dinamo and the defeat of Tolyatti Lada – 4-1.
As for Ak Bars, it should be said the main trend of 2016, according to Stanislav Galimov, is to be the 'number one' of the team. And in the match in Nizhny Novgorod, he occupied the place in the goal of Ak Bars, in spite of a bit unsure game in Minsk.
Tokranov as the centreman
Another surprise is that Zakharchuk and Obukhov did not come onto the ice. But Arkhipov appeared and took the habitual place in Svitov's liner that Ivanov joined. In addition, Ryan Wilson did not have his habitual partner in defence and played together with Belov because of Zakharchuk's absence. It seems Tokranov became the centreman of the third liner. It is interesting whether the defenceman will return to its defensive functions when Malykhin recovers or not. Tokranov got into shape in attack and, what is more, in Minsk, he confidently shot the puck from the goalmouth, à la sheer forward.
Meanwhile, the host team started to play more actively. However, the first half of the starting period passed without goal posts, to coin a phrase. The first dangerous moment belonged to the guests. Moller at speed entered the zone of Torpedo and performed a backhand shot. Proskuryakov managed to stave off the threat from his goal.
Some advantage in the movement of Ak Bars logically resulted in an ejection in Torpedo team. In the last matches, Ak Bars regularly plays in a majority. 'Bill's wards made the meeting simple and began to shoot more into the net, so it yielded fruits. But in the final combat, the Kazan played in the first half according to the old moulds, and there was no result of it.
Nizhny Novgorod almost shot the puck in answer to it. In attack the guests had more 100% moments, compared to their opponent for the whole period. Torpedo executed three shots, Galimov saved two of them, the third one was not shot in the eye. What is more, Konkov shot into the empty net.
Torpedo fans' whistle
The start of the second period was as good as the first one. Torpedo players tried to transfer the puck to the guests' goal. By the second period's seventh minute, a permanent whistle reigned under the roof of the ice rink of Nizhny Novgorod – the local fans reacted to the soporific character of the game. It is right: the fans don't have much experience in watching games of Ak Bars as spectators in Tatneft-Arena.
It is surprising but a goal was nearly scored only when 7 minutes left till the end. Moller and Azevedo performed a beautiful interpassing and put Sjogren ahead in an empty corner of the goal. However, Mattias just failed to hit the puck in this episode. Then Chibisov put Tkachev ahead in a good position. Proskuryakov saved Tkachev's shot from a medium distance.
A penalty shootout before the very end of the period
Anyway, Tkachev got what he wanted and received a penalty shootout. The cool-headed victim himself scored the penalty shootout and hit the target of the host team's inferior corner with a wrist shot.
In the third period, the Kazan players skillfully weaken the attacking game of the hosts. And in the sixth minute even doubled the score. Oscar Moller took the advantage of Azevedo's slight pass and sent the one-touch puck into the net. Undoubtedly, this target was amended by a Swedish 'mercenary' of Kazan.
Sjogren almost immediately could 'inter' Torpedo players but failed to shoot to the empty goal after Azevedo's accurate pass. In this episode, the rules were flouted by Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan got the second opportunity in the match to play in a majority. Ak Bars played this quantitative advantage with no result. While Torpedo, who was in a minority for the second time, frankly flipped. The referees noticed Alyayev had a series of shots at Azevedo' hands.
Irresponsibility and punishment
The Kazan players irresponsibly behaved in the match concerning the quantitative advantage. Ak Bars squared up when 5 minutes left. Engaged in a scramble near Galimov's goal, Zherdev was the nippiest and provided a nervous end on the ice of Nizhny Novgorod. Ryan Wilson, who zealously fought for the puck, lost his nerve when 2 minutes left before the end. They only started to praise him in Kazan…
Ak Bars itself believed in its victory, while Torpedo drew the game. Kirill Koltsov shot to Galimov's upper corner from a medium distance. There was no goal shot in overtime. Stanislav Galimov could save no attempt made by Torpedo in penalty shootout.
This way Kazan, in fact, itself granted the victory to Torpedo. The team probably is not ready yet for long successful series without diluting the victories with such unforced defeats.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov Head coach of Ak Bars HC
I think we lost the victory when 5 minutes left till the end of the match. We made grave errors that explain this lamentable result. Why did not Igor Mirnov play? Because other hockey players are playing now. We are waiting for him to be in a good shape.
Torpedo – Ak Bars – 3-2 (0-0, 0-1, 2-1, 0-0)
6 January. Nizhny Novgorod
0-1– 39 Sidorov ()
0-2– 46 Moller (Korneyev, Azevedo)
1-2– 55 Zherdev (Yegorshev)
2-2– 58 Koltsov (Zherdev, Alyayev)
3-2– 65 Zherdev – decisive penalty shootout