Traktor Chelyabinsk’s four-game road trip came to an end today. Over seven days the team traveled from Chelyabinsk to Kazan (two time zones away), Moscow, Mytyschi (which is basically also Moscow), and Riga (three time zones away). After accumulating nine out of twelve standings points and more than 3,200 miles during the trip, the White Bears now return home for a five-day break from KHL action.
Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov ended a three-game pointless drought today, scoring a late third period goal against Dinamo Riga.
It took a lot of effort and a little bit of luck. As Riga trailed 2-1 late in the game, they pulled their goalie, and the talented Russian winger had what looked to be an easy empty-net goal. Instead, a Riga defender hooked him from behind, sending Kuzya’s shot off the post.
On the ensuing five-on-four powerplay, Traktor got an odd-man break. Kuznetsov and a teammate looked to score again, this time on a two-on-one. Instead, the cross-ice pass was intercepted by former NHL All-Star Sandis Ozolins, and Riga’s net was knocked off its moorings. Because the net displacement was ruled intentional, Traktor got the two-man advantage. Finally, Kuznetsov broke through, rifling a one-timer home on the powerplay.
Kuznetsov’s goal comes at 2:05.
Evgeny’s goal– his eighth of the season– ties him for second place in the KHL. The only player with more is Blues’ prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, who has nine. Two other players have eight: Roman Cervenka and Panthers’ prospect Sergey Shirokov.
Traktor will play their next game at home on Sunday as they face their old rivals, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. With a 3-1 win tonight, Traktor is now back on top of the KHL’s Eastern conference.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.