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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Upset Loss in Opener Puts Dinamo Coach on Spot

Vladimir Golubovich's job as Dinamo Moscow's hockey coach may well be resting on the shaky shoulders of a second-string goaltender.


Dinamo was blown out in Tyumen in the first game of their best-of-three semifinal series Wednesday by No. 12 seed Rubin, 7-1. The Moscow club's season will be on the line when the teams meet again at Luzhniki Sports Palace on Saturday.


Dinamo couldn't use its top goalie Yevgeny Nabokov, a 1994 late-round draft pick of the NHL's San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. His backup, Ildar Mukhometov, started instead.


Nabokov, a Kazakhstan native, asked Dinamo's permission to represent his country in the Group C World Championship that starts next week in Slovenia, but the Moscow club turned down his request. To get even, Kazakhstan refused to allow Nabokov to play for Dinamo, so the talented 20-year-old now has to sit out rather than helping either team.


After Mukhometov let in three goals on five shots Wednesday, he was pulled in favor of Sergei Podpuzko, who was not even listed on Dinamo's playoff roster. The situation remains unresolved heading into the weekend.


Dinamo won't be the only team trying to avoid elimination Saturday. Lada also lost its opener, 3-2 to Metallurg in Magnitogorsk.


After winning the Russian title last year, Golubovich promised to win the club a long-coveted European club championship this season. But in Keln, Germany in December, the Muscovites were eliminated in the first round.


Then Dinamo hockey fans suffered another disappointment, when their club lost the battle for the Russian championship to its nemesis Lada Tolyatti, and so the focus shifted into the playoffs.


"When we lost the European championship and the Russian title, our two main competitions this year, obviously there was nothing left for us except to try to win the league cup, to salvage the season," said Golubovich, Dinamo's third-year head coach.


"Our next game will be a test of team's character once again, or our season is history," he said.


His job might be as well.


(For schedule, see Scorecard.)