Wednesday’s games – the last before the KHL adjourns for the Olympics – saw the remaining contenders for a play-off spot slug it out. In the East, the two key rivals went head-to-head in Vladivostok, where Admiral missed its chance to overhaul Traktor.
In the West, Lokomotiv suffered a disappointing defeat at Dinamo Minsk, and was left sweating on news from Donetsk where its closest rival, Atlant, faced Donbass.
The first game of the day saw Traktor take a potentially crucial step towards securing eighth place. It won in a shoot-out against Admiral following a 3-3 tie, and now stands two points clear with a game in hand.
Evgeny Kuznetsov – a player who might consider himself unfortunate not to be going to Sochi – settled that shoot-out after the two sides fought out a close tie in regulation. Andrei Nikitenko tied it up for Admiral midway through the third, just a minute after Andrei Kostitsyn had put Traktor in front.
At the other end of the KHL map in Belarus, Lokomotiv saw its grip on eighth place in the west loosened by a 3-1 defeat to Dinamo Minsk. Two goals shortly after midway settled the course of this game, with Tomas Surovy and Alexander Materukhin putting the home team in control. By the time Sergei Plotnikov found the net for Loko it was already too late – Alexei Kalyuzhny had further extended the lead.
When the siren sounded in Belarus, though, ninth-placed Atlant was still on the ice in Ukraine. And, as if inspired by news of Loko’s struggles, the Moscow Region team promptly tied its game at 2-2 – but went on to lose in a shoot-out.
Alexei Mikhnov got the crucial equalizer, cancelling out two goals from Teemu Laine, before Randy Robitaille surprised Stanislav Galimov with an unorthodox but effective penalty shot. Loko still holds the advantage, but its lead is down to three points.
Around the league
Sibir secured its play-off spot before today’s game, and celebrated with an emphatic 4-0 win over Neftekhimik. Jarno Koskiranta and Dmitry Monya made it 2-0 inside four minutes, effectively ending the contest before it had even begun.
The biggest win of the day came in Moscow where Spartak’s sorry run reached new depths with a 0-7 thrashing at home to Severstal. Evgeny Mons led the way here with two goals.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk was also in the goals, romping to a 6-1 win at Amur. Not for the first time Sergei Mozyakin led the way, scoring twice in the first period.
Metallurg Novokuznetsk signed off its home campaign on a high note after another difficult season. Two goals from Evgeny Lapenkov helped the team to a 3-1 win over Salavat Yulaev.