MOSCOW, January 24 (R-Sport) - Ak Bars Kazan completed a 5-1 thrashing of Metallurg Novokuznetsk to continue its charge to be KHL regular season champion.
Two-time Gagarin Cup winner Ak Bars is now just two points behind Eastern Conference leader Avangard Omsk, with the two teams to meet Saturday.
“In general, we are satisfied with the result and attitude of our players to the game,” Ak Bars coach Valery Belov said on the team’s website.
“We have an essential game against Avangard. So we considered today’s game as preparation for that oncoming clash. That’s why we approached this game seriously.”
Former Columbus Blue Jackets wing Nikolay Zherdev opened the score early in the game before Alexei Tereshchenko and Janne Pesonen increased the hosts’ lead to 3-0 in the second period.
Ak Bars kept up the pressure in the third as Dmitry Obukhov and ex-Phoenix Coyotes center Niko Kapanen scored two more goals, and Metallurg's Alexander Mereskin hit one to deny Ak Bars a shutout.
Metallurg stands 10th and is unlikely to make it into the playoffs this season.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.