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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.