SKA opened up a three-point gap at the top of the table thanks to a hard-fought win at Ak Bars. The Kazan side would have claimed top spot for itself with victory but a goal from Dmitry Yudin with just over 10 minutes to play settled the summit clash.
Yudin scored on Konstantin Barulin with a shot from distance which flew through a crowded slot to give the goalie no chance. That broke a 1-1 tie after the teams had traded second-period goals. Evgeny Skachkov gave SKA the lead, but Artyom Lukoyanov leveled it five minutes later.
SKA made the points safe thanks to a powerplay goal from Alexei Ponikarovsky with three minutes left, skating to a 3-1 win – and a good night for the Petersburg side got even better with news of a home defeat for Western Conference rival Dynamo.
Yakovlev’s big night
Lokomotiv’s young defenseman Yegor Yakovlev opened his account for the season in spectacular style with two fine solo goals to defeat Dynamo in Moscow.
The 22-year-old only had two goals in his KHL career prior to Thursday’s game, but the way he created and converted his chances – albeit against a depleted Dynamo defense – befit a top forward rather than a fourth-line D-man.
First, in the 23rd minute, he exacted maximum advantage from the extra space on offer during a 4v4 passage. Collecting the puck on Dynamo’s blue line he wove his way past two challenges before nervelessly firing off a shot from mid-range to beat Alexander Yeryomenko. Late in the second stanza he scored on Dynamo again, substituting elegance for determination as he battled his way behind the goal and re-emerged to lift the puck into the roof of the net.
In between the two goals Martins Karsums had a good chance for Dynamo but fired wide in a one-on-one on a night when an injury-hit home line-up failed to find its game. And it was left to another Loko youngster, Sergei Plotnikov, to extend the lead early in the third before Karsums ended an unhappy evening with an expulsion for kicking out at an opponent in the last seconds of his team’s 1-3 defeat.
CSKA still lacks consistency
After 13 games of the regular season, CSKA is still looking for a run of form which reflects its lofty ambitions. Thursday’s game at Sibir highlighted many of the team’s problems – a terrific individual goal, plenty of chances created – but a disastrous lapse of concentration midway through which ultimately resulted in a 3-2 defeat.
It could have been very different: CSKA took the lead early in the second through Ilari Filppula, only to fold alarmingly. Three goals in seven minutes saw Sibir turn the game upside down, with Jori Lehtera, Alexander Kutuzov and Kristian Kudroc finding the target. There was still time for Sergei Shirokov to produce a fine goal, collecting Maxim Goncharov’s pass, bamboozling a defenseman and scoring on Mikko Koskinen, but the Army Men could not find a way to tie the game.
Around the league
Metallurg Magnitogorsk confirmed its dominance of the Ural derby, following up last week’s 5-0 win in Chelyabinsk with a 3-0 home success over Traktor. Sergei Mozyakin scored two, Vasily Koshechkin added 23 saves to the 34 he made in the earlier encounter.
Admiral shot down Slovan 3-1, with Enver Lisin proving the difference between the teams. His beautifully-weighted pass found Niclas Bergfors on the slot for the go-ahead goal late in the second period, then he added an empty-netter to seal the win.
Dinamo Riga remains on the trail of the Western Conference leaders thanks to a 2-0 win at Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Goals from Aleksandrs Nizivijs and Andris Dzerins and 35 saves from Mikael Tellqvist secured the victory.
Yaroslav Dyblenko was the game-breaker as Atlant won 3-1 at Torpedo. He struck in the 52nd minute to claim victory for the Moscow Region side.