MOSCOW, December 23 (R-Sport) – Two goals from former New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello inspired Metallurg Magnitogorsk to a 5-1 thrashing of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl that lifts the team to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Evgeni Malkin had a comparatively quiet game for his high standards, grabbing one assist to help Metallurg join Ak Bars Kazan at the summit with 72 points from 36 games.
Lokomotiv took the lead on 21 seconds through Sergei Plotnikov, but Zuccarello soon equalized from the crease.
The game turned into a disaster for the hosts in the second period as Denis Platonov, Metallurg's latest signing Ryan O’Reilly and Zuccarello made the score 4-1.
Sergei Bernatsky completed the demolition with a powerful slapshot.
Lokomotiv remains second place in the West, 10 points behind leader Dynamo Moscow.
Elsewhere, CSKA Moscow gained a 4-1 win over Salavat Yulaev Ufa after two consecutive defeats.
CSKA defensemen Andrei Sergeev and Yakov Rylov opened the first period with two powerplay goals, before the 2011 KHL champion answered with a solo effort by Alexei Glukhov, who stole the puck in the central zone and outfoxed CSKA goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski extended the hosts’ lead before Oleg Kvasha closed out the win with an empty net goal.
CSKA is stuck in fourth in the West, while Salavat Yulaev let the pursuers close in to its fifth place in the East with a third-straight defeat.
Meanwhile, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod played its first game without Finnish coach Kari Jalonen, who was fired Saturday, and celebrated with a 3-1 defeat of Traktor Chelyabinsk.
Maxim Karpov put the visitors in the lead late in the first period, before Carolina Hurricanes star Alexander Semin and Petr Schastlivy reversed the course of play in the second.
Torpedo wing Mikhail Varnakov sealed the win with an empty-net goal three seconds before the buzzer.
Outside Moscow, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg grabbed its seventh win of the season by crushing Atlant 6-2, while a penalty shot by Canadian wing Nigel Dawes brought Barys Astana a 2-1 victory at Spartak Moscow.
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This war would most probably not be precipitated not by direct actions of the Russian or Ukrainian governments. The more likely cause is the clash of rival armed volunteer groups on the streets of eastern Ukraine, which would lead to the progressive involvement of armed forces on either side.