The leaders of the Western Conference both picked up wins on Sunday – but SKA and Dynamo Moscow both faced an unexpectedly tough time against modest opposition.
SKA left it late to beat Neftekhimik 2-1: Maxim Chudinov got the winner with less than three minutes left to play. Earlier Evgeny Ketov had put SKA in front, but Nikolai Belov tied it up on a second-period powerplay.
Dynamo, meanwhile, edged Amur by the odd goal in nine after trailing 1-3 early in the second period. Sergei Soin put the home side in front after just 22 seconds, but Amur refused to yield and two goals for Alexander Yunkov turned the game around before the first interval. Jakub Petruzalek extended that lead with a short-handed goal on 21:05 before Dynamo began its fight-back.
Four unanswered goals in just over 10 minutes – including a second goal and an assist for Soin–opened up a 5-3 cushion, with Dominik Granak getting the all-important fifth. But even then, Dynamo’s worries were far from over: Andrei Stepanov made it a one-goal game once again in the 42nd minute and Alexander Lazushin had to absorb some heavy pressure to preserve the advantage.
Drama in Zagreb
A pulsating game in Zagreb finally went the way of Traktor after Lauris Darzins clinched a shoot-out win following a 4-4 tie with Medvescak.
The game got off to a bright start, with Michael Ryan putting Medvescak ahead in the second minute, only for Traktor to level moments later.
The third period, though, was a spectacular affair as the teams shared six goals. Medvescak was first to show, with Ryan Vesce scoring twice in the first five minutes. His second goal came 15 seconds into a 5v3 powerplay, but Traktor hit back almost immediately while still short-handed. Then it took Jan Bulis just eight seconds to convert a powerplay and tie the game at 3-3. Medvescak inched ahead once more through Ryan’s second of the night but the breathless scoring wasn’t done – Anton Glinkin tied it up once again. After that flurry it was a surprise that the teams didn’t score again in regulation, but after the tie it took a shoot-out to settle the outcome.
Avtomobilist’s record win
In Yekaterinburg, Avtomobilist ended a five-game losing streak in style with an 8-1 thrashing of Slovan. As well as putting the team back on the winning path it also set a new club record in the KHL, improving on an 8-3 win over Vityaz four years ago.
Losing streaks end
It wasn’t just Avtomobilist which tasted a welcome win – Avangard and Dinamo Minsk also ended long losing runs with surprise successes.
Avangard overpowered Dinamo Riga 5-2 in the first game of the day, surprising the Western Conference high-flyer thanks largely to recent signing Sergei Shirokov. The ex-CSKA man scored one and created two more as the Siberians celebrated the end of seven games without success.
Then Dinamo ended its six-game losing streak with a surprise 3-1 home win over Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Magnitka took an early lead through Vladimir Malinovsky, but Tomas Surovy tied it up. Third-period goals from Alexander Materukhin and Geoff Platt secured the points for the Belarusians.
The Saprykin show
Oleg Saprykin put CSKA in control of its game at Barys inside the first 10 minutes. First his pass picked out Alexei Morozov for a simple finish, then he scored himself after showing smart reactions on the rebound. Barys pulled one back in the second period, but could not reel in the Army Men. The visitor added three more in the third session, with Saprykin wrapping up a 5-2 win with an empty-netter.
Around the league
Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars returned to winning ways with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Admiral. Tomas Vincour scored twice, including the game winner, to lead the way.
Torpedo romped to a 5-0 home win over Metallurg Novokuznetsk, with Sakari Salminen scoring twice. The Finn got things rolling with a goal on 22 seconds as Torpedo controlled the game throughout.
Vityaz battled back from 0-3 at home to Sibir to force a tie. Vyacheslav Solodukhin then won the shoot-out for the hosts.
Lev eased to a 4-1 road victory at Ugra, thanks largely to two quick goals at the start of the second period. David Ullstrom and Topi Jaakola scored within a minute to take the game away from the hosts.
Donbass beat Salavat Yulaev 4-2, despite conceding to Denis Khlystov after just 80 seconds of the game. Alexander Toryanik got the game-winner as three unanswered goals in the second period set up a 4-2 success.