MOSCOW, February 23 (R-Sport) – Two-time KHL champion Ak Bars Kazan inflicted a second-straight drubbing on Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Ex-NHL star Nikolay Zherdev hit a goal and an assist to help the Tatarstan side to a 3-0 victory in Kazan late Friday to add to a 5-1 thumping in the series opener.
The win gives Ak Bars the chance to wrap up the series in Nizhnekamsk on Monday and Tuesday.
To its credit, Neftekhimik put up far more fierce resistance on Friday to leave the first two periods goalless.
But it eventually capitulated five minutes into the third, with former Phoenix Coyotes forward Niko Kapanen converting Zherdev's assist before the ex-New York Rangers wing scored himself.
Ilya Nikulin crystalized the win with an empty-netter. Russia team goaltender Konstantin Barulin deflected 30 shots for a shutout.
Meanwhile, former Calgary Flames wing Nigel Dawes brought Barys Astana a second road win against Traktor Chelyabinsk, scoring four times in a 5-3 victory.
Dawes scored all four goals in the first half hour, with Traktor responding through Valery Nichushkin and Petri Kontiola.
Then, Alexei Litvinenko hit the upper corner of Traktor’s goal to make it 5-2, before Nichushkin registered his double with a consolation goal in the third period.
Now the Kazakhs have can clinch a conference semifinals spot if they win their two home games on Monday and Tuesday.
The other two matchups saw their respective series tied at 1-1.
Nikita Zaitsev's goal saw Sibir Novosibirsk eke out a 1-0 win at Avangard Omsk; while Metallurg Magnitogorsk hit two unanswered goals through former San Jose Sharks forward Alexander Korolyuk and the regular season top scorer Sergei Mozyakin against 2011 champion Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
The real heroes of both games were the goaltenders, as Sibir’s Jeff Glass stopped all 28 shot and Georgy Gelashvili of Metallurg made 25 saves.