Sergei Konkov’s 56th-minute equalizer saw Lokomotiv take SKA the full distance, forcing a 2-2 tie in Yaroslavl before Loko inflicted only a second defeat of the season on the league leader.
He struck on the power play on 57:13, squeezing home a characteristic shot from an impossibly tight angle to beat Anders Nilsson at his near post and settle a typically gritty encounter between these two old foes.
There’s rarely much to choose between Ak Bars and Metallurg – and this was the sixth time in a row that these two old Eastern Conference rivals had been settled by a single goal. Among them, high-scoring encounters are the exception rather than the rule.
So it was hardly a surprise that the two went into the second intermission without a goal on the scoreboard: both teams played cautious, well-drilled defensive hockey and offered up few chances as the latest in a series of high-profile clashes proved a little disappointing. So strong was the discipline of both teams that even the penalty boxes were largely unoccupied in a clash where nobody was willing to risk giving anything away.
But Zaripov found the one chink in the armor this evening to maintain Magnitka’s position on top of the Eastern Conference.
Two goals from veteran forward Pyotr Schastlivy did much of the damage in a game that could have gone either way.
Riga was first to show, taking an eighth-minute lead when Miks Indrasis went through on goal and beat Alexander Yeryomenko. Moscow hit back before the intermission through Alexei Tsvetkov, and rushed to a 3-1 lead early in the second, seemingly on course for a comfortable home win.
But two goals in 20 seconds changed all that: Schastlivy scored from close range to reduce the lead, then Gints Meija tied it up after Yeryomenko lost the puck in the slot.
Early in the third a great pass from Linus Videll set up Schastlivy’s second of the night and that proved to be decisive as the home team struggled to get shots on Jakub Sedlacek’s net in the closing stages.
The scoreline perhaps reflected the difference in the way these clubs have rebounded – or not – since failing to reach last season’s play-offs. Avangard, with Raimo Summanen reinstalled as head coach, have looked strong throughout this season; Traktor, by contrast, have continued to struggle and dispensed with Karri Kivi’s services behind the bench uncharacteristically quickly.
But new head coach Andrei Nikolishin could do little to lift his team here in a game dominated by Avangard. Barulin faced just 15 shots all night, and things looked bleak after fit-again Sergei Shirokov set up Alexander Popov for the opening goal on six minutes.
It took a while to finish things off, though; it was still a one-goal game until deep into the third. But Alexander Perezhogin made it 2-0 in the 51st minute and Roman Berdnikov wrapped it up with three minutes left.
Andreas Engqvist scored twice for Atlant but still finished on the losing side at home to Admiral. Konstantin Makarov’s goal 33 seconds into overtime took the win back to Vladivostok after a 2-2 tie in regulation.
Yegor Milovzorov got the shoot-out winner for Neftekhimik at Salavat Yualev. He snapped a 2-2 tie to give the away team only its second win in 10 games. Salavat suffered a second successive loss after Thursday’s 2-7 reverse at SKA.
And yet another 2-2 tie came in Minsk, where Dinamo eventually beat Amur in a shoot-out. Ryan Vesce got the winning goal.