Below the jump: The strange saga of Teemu Lassila's mask...
Lassila did not have a good day today, finding himself yanked after giving up the first four goals on 16 shots. The last of those goals came on an Ak Bars powerplay, with Lassila himself penalized for a rather bizarre series of events. The Finnish goalie was hit up high by a shot from Ilya Nikulin that appeared
actually to break one of the straps on his mask. The referees did not spot this, so as the play headed back up the ice, Lassila removed his mask and tossed it out to near the blue line, stopping the action and earning himself a somewhat harsh two minutes for Delay of Game. Burmistrov then ended Lassila's night with one second left in the ensuing man advantage. 18-year-old Denis Kostin, who had the Avangard backup duties on this night, came in for his very first taste of KHL action, and was beaten twice on 17 shots. Neither goal, it must be said, was really Kostin's fault -- his demoralized team-mates were not providing much support by that time.
Avangard fans can take a small bit of comfort away from the game however, above and beyond the fact that they lost on the road to a very fine team, which is a thing that can happen. Five of the six Ak Bars goals came on the powerplay (they had eight opportunities in the game). At evens, Avangard actually did ok, at least until the game was out of reach. A bit more discipline, and perhaps some remedial work on killing penalties, and it should be a different story the next time the two teams meet. Avangard should probably just forget about this one -- they will be fine in the long run.
Highlights (the fun with Lassila's headgear begins at about the 1:55 mark)!