Dynamo Moscow 2 SKA St. Petersburg 3

SKA’s visit to Dynamo Moscow brought Oleg Znarok back to the club where he won two Gagarin Cups – but there was little sign of a friendly welcome once the action got underway in one of the most competitive clashes of the KHL season.

Dynamo had to cope without captain Andrei Mironov after the defenseman picked up an injury on international duty with Znarok’s Russia in Finland. That loss, coupled with the on-going absence of first-choice goalie Alexander Yeryomenko hardly represented ideal preparation to face SKA as the KHL leader looked to prolong an 11-match winning streak.

In the early stages SKA probably had the better of some fast-paced play, but was caught cold by Yakov Rylov’s opening goal in the ninth minute. It wasn’t the most awe-inspiring shot from the blue line, but with Igor Shestyorkin heavily screened it had just enough to get past the young goalie.

The visitor responded almost immediately with Maxim Chudinov tying the game 93 seconds later. Nikita Gusev created the opportunity, breaking down the left and playing the puck right onto the D-man’s stick. Chudinov’s shot from middle distance did the rest.

Dynamo hit back in the second with a goal worthy of winning the game. Ansel Galimov won possession in his own zone and accelerated up the ice before beating Shestyorkin on the back hand to make it 2-1.

But SKA hasn’t compiled such a formidable winning streak without knowing a thing or two about responding to adversity. Evgeny Ketov tied the game early in the final stanza, deceiving Alexander Lazushin with an early wrist shot. Then a power play goal saw Anton Belov put the visitor in front for the first time in the game as he took Chudinov’s pass and beat Lazushin over the glove.

That was enough to win it. SKA moves on to 12 without defeat and extends its lead at the top of the table. Dynamo suffered its first loss in four and remains sixth in the West.

Vityaz rally shocks CSKA

Vityaz Podolsk 3 CSKA Moscow 2 (SO)

While SKA was continuing its fine form at Dynamo, second-placed CSKA dropped points away to playoff chasing Vityaz despite leading 2-0 after 20 minutes. The game went to a shoot-out after a 2-2 tie, and home goalie Igor Saprykin pulled off two saves to deny Dmitry Kugryshev and Vyacheslav Osnovin. Vityaz responded with successful attempts from Alexei Kopekin and Nikita Vyglasoz to claim two points from the game.

Initially things were going well for Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team: goals from defenseman Denis Denisov and Nikita Pivtsakin gave the Army Men a 2-0 lead at the first intermission after CSKA dominated the first period.

But Vityaz is no longer an easy opponent. The team rallied in the second period before battling back onto level terms in the third. Roman Horak got away from Pivtsakin to convert a swift counter-attack in the 41st minute before Vyacheslav Solodukhin tied it up in the 50th with a well-placed shot below Viktor Fasth’s glove.

In overtime CSKA had to survive a penalty against Kugryshev but held on thanks to six saves from Fasth, only to succumb in the shoot-out.

Chernov masterminds Severstal win

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 Severstal Cherepovets 4

Severstal sprang a surprise at Lokomotiv, beating a team that had won six of its last seven in all competitions and taken at least one point from 11 out of its last 12 home games.

But three third-period goals dented those impressive stats as the Steelmen snapped a 1-1 tie and claimed a valuable three points in the race for a playoff spot.

Pavel Chernov had a hand in all four Severstal goals, and put his team ahead on the power play. Adam Masuhr pinged a shot against the crossbar; the rebound dropped for Dmitry Kagarlitsky and Chernov got the final touch to make it 2-1.

Three-and-a-half minutes later it was 3-1. Chernov and Kagarlitsky were involved again as Evgeny Mons produced an accurate shot from the centre of the Lokomotiv zone. When Loko pulled goalie Alexei Murygin there was a certain inevitability about what followed. Chernov got the puck and duly fired into the empty net.

Earlier Vojtech Polack gave Severstal the lead – that man Chernov obliging with another helper – before Brandon Kozun levelled with a 36th-minute power play strike.

Around the league

Ugra enjoyed a 3-1 win at home to Medvescak. Konstantin Sokolov and Lukas Lessio traded first-period goals before third-period strikes from Denis Khlystov and Alexander Akmaldinov gave Ugra the verdict.