Ak Bars suffered a heavy home loss – its first defeat of the season – as HC Sochi bounced back from Thursday’s 11-3 mauling to produce a shut-out in Kazan. SKA maintained its unbeaten run – but only after enduring an 20-shot shoot-out at Torpedo.
There was good news for Severstal, which won at last with a 3-2 success over Lokomotiv. That leaves Dinamo Minsk as the only team yet to taste victory this season: the Belarusians lost again in a shoot-out at Spartak.
After conceding 11 goals at Salavat Yulaev, HC Sochi enjoyed a shut-out in Kazan 48 hours later, producing a much-improved performance to end Ak Bars’ 100% start to the season.
A shut-out from Dmitry Shikin told just part of the story as the Leopards defense improved beyond all recognition. Ak Bars’ offense was limited to just 24 shots all evening.
The tone was set in the first period, when neither side managed to seriously extend the opposition goalie. Then, after a penalty on the home team’s Albert Yarullin, Sochi took a 26th-minute lead through Maxim Mamin. The visitor went on to kill a 3-on-5 penalty to maintain its advantage into the second intermission.
In the final stanza, the somewhat overlooked contribution of Sochi’s offense in Ufa reminded everyone of its work. Vadim Shchegolkov, Pavel Padakin and Casey Wellman all scored in that heavy loss; here Padakin had two assists, the other two both found the net. Evgeny Lapenkov also scored, on a power play, and Andrei Ivanov added the fifth late on as Sochi delivered a surprise result.
It took 20 penalty shots to separate these two after an engrossing game in Nizhny Novgorod. Nikita Gusev was the game-winner, scoring twice in the shoot-out. He produced a vital goal to keep SKA in it after Denis Parshin made it 4-3 for Torpedo, then finished the job after Sergei Kostitsyn’s miss gave him the chance to win the game.
Far from overawed by its high-flying opponent, Torpedo made a solid start – encouraged by Maxim Chudinov’s ejection early on for a high hit on Vyacheslav Kulyomin. The forward recovered quickly, though, and gave his team the lead in the 12th minute. SKA tied it up through Alexander Barabanov as it tightened the screw towards the end of the session, but could not turn chances into goals.
Then Kovalchuk took matters into his own hands, retrieving the puck from centre ice and going it alone to smash a shot past Stanislav Galimov to put SKA up for the first time. Pavel Datsyuk extended that lead with a predatory strike on the power play, whipping out from behind the net to beat Galimov for speed of thought and execution and make it 3-1.
But Torpedo wasn’t done. Denis Barantsev reduced the arrears on the power play in the 53rd minute before Gennady Stolyarov tied the game late on. In overtime, SKA survived two minutes of box play to keep the scoresheet level, and the game went to a shoot-out.
Severstal’s early-season struggles may have given a false impression of the team’s capabilities: despite losing all four games, each one had been a single-goal margin and two had been in overtime. Finally, the team lifted the curse with a victory at home to Lokomotiv to record its first success of the season.
The action started right away: Dmitry Kagarlitsky put Severstal in front after 38 seconds, then Alexander Kadeikin tied the game on 1:44. But Severstal bossed the rest of the opening frame, and got its reward when Maxim Rybin smashed home a one-timer after Yury Trubachyov won the draw in the 13th minute.
Evgeny Mons extended the lead in the 28th minute, slaloming away from two D-men before squeezing the puck past Alexei Murygin from the tightest of angles. Subsequently, Lokomotiv enjoyed the bulk of the play, but could only generate one goal from Daniil Apalkov as Severstal took the points.
Dynamo Moscow made it three wins in a row as its Latvian namesake suffered a second successive home loss.
Two goals from Daniil Tarasov led the way for the Blue-and-Whites. The 26-year-old forward opened the scoring in the 10th minute and then added the fifth late in the middle stanza. For Tarasov, this season has brought a big leap in playing time – prior to today’s game, he was averaging 18:41 per game, compared with 14 minutes last season – and he has taken to that responsibility by scoring four goals in five games. Last time around, he only got scored five in 34 regular-season outings.
Vladimir Bryukvin, 22, is another Dynamo man looking to cement his reputation this season, and he notched his second of the campaign. There were also strikes from old stagers Evgeny Artyukhin – his first since joining Dynamo – and Ilya Nikulin.
Miks Indrasis got a consolation goal for the host in the final stanza, his fifth of the season, but Dynamo had no difficulty in closing out the win.
Overtime produced a similar story, although Enroth was the busier goalie in a session that Spartak began on the power play and dominated without finding a goal.
In the shoot-out, though, the host finally solved the Swedish netminder. Viktor Komarov, Evgeny Orlov and Igor Mirnov all found the Dinamo net; Mirnov’s proved decisive as Bespalov saved three out of four attempts at the other end. Dinamo Minsk is still seeking its first victory of the season; Spartak enjoyed a winning start to its home fixtures.