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Traktor vs. Avtomobilist – 3:1. Press-conference after the match

Igor Ulanov, Avtomobilist’s head coach:
First of all I would like to congratulate Traktor on a win. Traktor and Avto have had a storied rivalry over the years, but tonight my team looked not as good as I wanted them to. We were completely outplayed in the first period and made too many simple mistakes that the players of KHL level should not make; it all came back to haunt us later in the game. Traktor is a well-oiled machine, and they deserved a victory tonight. We, on the other hand, have heaps of work to do. The only thing that I liked about tonight’s game was that we were able to keep our net intact during shorthanded play; I have to give my boys credit for that.

Valery Belousov, Traktor’s head coach:
Nice start of the match – a quick goal, penalty shot, several scoring chances; but then Avto evened the game out, tied the match and could even pull ahead. That’s why I told my players to be careful at the defensive end. Besides, we tried the Dugin-Kostitsyn-Antipov line, and I think it worked. We are still considering what the best lines would be for Dugin and Popov.

Question to Belousov: Do you think Kuznetsov was 100% tonight?
Belousov: 
No, he was actually a bit ‘heavy’ after the Eurohockey Tour. Plus, Nichushkin is back with the team; however, we decided to give him a day-off. He’s likely to appear on the ice on Sunday against Magnitka. All in all, an observant eye could see that the team did not play regularly in two weeks. It’s a great thing that we have these two matches before the playoffs – they will help us find our best shape again.

Question to Belousov: Why did you choose Demchenko to be a substitute goalie for tonight?
Belousov: 
It’s simple – Nichushkin was given a day-off, so we had to fill his 4th young player spot with someone else.

Question to Belousov: Do you think the last game against Magnitka would be a key factor in determining the opponents in the first round of playoffs?
Belousov:
Well, first off Metallurg has to face Avto before our match. But all in all yes, you are right, it would be.

Question to Belousov: Traktor did not make any acquisitions before the playoffs. No worthy candidates?
Belousov: 
There’s no need to sign average players, only the good ones. Besides that, I think it would be somewhat unfair to now replace the guys that have worked the whole season giving it their all on the ice.

Question to Ulanov: You once said that Avto is now working for the next season. Whom of the current players do you see in the team next year and whom you don’t?
Ulanov: 
I don’t see the majority of them playing for Avto in the next season.

Question to Belousov: Could you share with us your thoughts on the quality of tonight’s game?
Belousov: 
My boys showed the will and desire to win. One thing though – lackluster performance in power plays; however, I think it could be explained through the two-week absence of gaming practice.