Among the big names, everything went according to recent form. Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars smashed an off-color Salavat Yulaev team 5-0 in the ‘Green Derby’ in Ufa, while Metallurg’s stumbling form continued with a 2-5 reverse at Neftekhimik. In the West, CSKA and Jokerit both made fast starts to record comfortable home wins against Sochi and Avangard respectively. Amur kept up its strong run with a 3-1 win over Loko, while Sibir maintained its hoodoo over Barys by winning a 10-goal thriller in Novosibirsk.
Amur claimed another impressive scalp with victory over Lokomotiv. The Far East team now has 12 wins from its last 17 games, having lost nine in a row prior to that sequence.
Lokomotiv put plenty of pressure on Juha Metsola in the home goal, firing in 52 shots in the game. But the Finn was equal to 51 of them as he backstopped his team to victory.
Against the Railwaymen, Amur built its advantage in the second period. Bogdan Potekhin opened the scoring in the 26thminute with a power play goal, and Dmitry Klopov doubled the advantage nine minutes later. Lokomotiv responded immediately as Daniil Apalkov halved the deficit, and went on to dominate the final period. Amur could only manage three efforts on target, but Alexei Byvaltsev put one of them into an empty net to seal the home victory.
For the fourth time this season, Sibir overcame Barys … but few games in Novosibirsk were as incident-packed as this one.
Two days after a 4-0 success against the same opponent, Sibir began strongly. Stepan Sannikov opened the scoring after 42 seconds, then Andrei Sigaryov made it 2-0 on 2:06. Barys had now conceded six unanswered goals in this building in a little over 62 minutes of game time.
The visitor didn’t panic, though. Instead, it waited for its chance to hit back. A power play gave Talgat Zhailauov the chance to reduce the deficit in the 10th minute, and Anton Sagadeyev tied the game in the 16th minute. Job done? Not quite. In the last minute of the opening stanza, Andrei Yermakov reinstated Sibir’s lead amid claims of offside from the visiting bench.
If the host shaded the opening exchanges, the visitor had the better of the middle frame. Nigel Dawes tied the game as Sergei Konkov sat out a penalty, then Barys had a goal disallowed for interference on the goalie. Another penalty on Konkov saw Dawes turn into the provider for Linden Vey to give the Kazakhs the lead at the second intermission.
The story still wasn’t done. Maxim Ignatovich potted two power play goals – both times Vladimir Markelov was in the box – to give Sibir the lead once again. And the home PP clicked once more in the 57th minute as Patrik Zackrisson wrapped up a thrilling win.
The first ‘Green Derby’ of the season renewed the old rivalry between Salavat Yulaev and Ak Bars. The teams had not met since last season’s playoff, when Ak Bars cruised to victory in five games … and today’s clash came against a background of disappointment in Ufa over the team’s inconsistent form.
A home win would have gone a long way to quashing questions about the future of head coach Erkka Westerlund, and could have given Salavat something to build on after a morale-boosting 3-1 win at Sochi last time out. Instead, though, Ak Bars delivered a five-star show in what turned into a demolition derby.
Admittedly, there wasn’t much in the game early on. Neither side created many chances in a tight opening period, but Ak Bars took the initiative when Vladimir Tkachyov converted a power play late in the session. The door inched open, and that was all the visitor needed. Alexei Potapov added a second power play goal and Anton Glinkin took the lead to 3-0 in the 38th minute.
Most of the game’s secondary indicators – shots on goal, time on offense – suggested that Salavat was more than competitive, but the scoring told a different story. While Emil Garipov dealt with everything the host could throw at him, Ben Scrivens found life tougher at the other end. He was beaten twice more in the final stanza as Tkachyov got his second and Yaroslav Kosov wrapped it up.
Apart from the convincing margin of victory, the discipline of the visitor was also impressive. Ak Bars did not take a single penalty over the course of the game, and punished both of Salavat Yulaev’s trips to the sin bin.
All is not well in Magnitogorsk, where last season’s Gagarin Cup finalist continues to struggle for form. At Neftekhimik, a team playing well above most people’s expectations, Metallurg came unstuck once again despite making a great start to the game.
Denis Kazionov put the visitor ahead in the first minute, but a team that was once so ruthless proved unable to build on that advantage. Indeed, by the ninth minute Neftekhimik had the lead. Ziga Jeglic got his first goal of the season to tie the scores and Dmitry Ogurtsov put the host in front soon afterwards.
Anton Shenfeld tied the game at 2-2 with the only goal of the second period, but after that it was all about the home team. Three unanswered goals in the final stanza – all of them touched by Emil Galimov – settled the issue in Neftekhimik’s favor. Galimov made it 3-2 in the 47th minute, then assisted as Andrej Nestrasil and Dan Sexton put the game beyond Metallurg’s reach. Neftekhimik is just two points off the Eastern Conference summit; Metallurg is down in sixth, four points clear of ninth-placed Traktor.
Jokerit wasted little time in taking command of this game, grabbing two goals in the first two minutes to leave the Eastern Conference high-flyer struggling to keep up.
Peter Regin put the Jesters ahead after just 19 seconds, although the Dane’s smiles may have been somewhat rueful given the fortuitous deflection that took his hopeful shot past Dominik Furch. After 98 seconds it was 2-0. Antti Pihlstrom got the goal, Furch got a quick return to the bench. His replacement, Oleg Shilin, was retrieving the puck from his net within a minute, but got a reprieve when the video showed it had been kicked over the line.
Avangard missed a great chance to reduce the arrears early in the middle frame when Ryan Zapolski produced a fine save to snuff out Mikhail Fisenko in a one-on-one situation, but the clearer chances still came at the other end. John Norman hit the post before Olli Palola made it 3-0 midway through the game, and after that the outcome was in little doubt. The final period saw Avangard unable to seriously test Zapolski, managing just two shots on target as the Omsk team failed to keep pace with Ak Bars at the top of the East. Jokerit, meanwhile, remains a force in the West, with the third best record at this stage.
CSKA could not quite match Jokerit for speedy scoring today, but still blasted three goals in 12 minutes to leave Sochi with a mountain to climb in this game.
Andrei Svetlakov scored two in the first 10 minutes, and Alexander Popov added a third on a delayed penalty call as the Army seized the early initiative. Vadim Khlopotov got one back for Sochi in the first period, but the visitor hit penalty trouble in the second and saw power play goals from Maxim Shalunov and Alexei Marchenko push the lead to 5-1.
There was an attempted revival: Sean Collins scored late in the second, Alexei Tsvetkov made it 3-5 with four to play. But CSKA was not to be denied, and 19-year-old Nikita Makeyev celebrated his first ever KHL goal to make it 6-3 late on.