The KHL returned after the international break with a hard-fought battle between Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa, with the latter recovering to win in a shoot-out. Sergei Zinovyev got the decisive goal as stand-in goaltender Nikita Davydov enjoyed a KHL debut to remember, shutting out the hosts after joining the action on 31:29 with the score at 0-3, and successfully fending off four penalty shots in total.
The visitors left out Alexander Radulov, star of Russia’s Karjala Cup triumph, as acting coach Vener Safin opted to rest his returning internationals after their efforts in Helsinki. That weakened squad clearly gave Neftekhimik a boost and the hosts took control of the early stages to open up a 3-0 lead. Oleg Kvasha and Dmitry Obukhov scored in the first period, and Yegor Milovzorov made it three shortly after the half-way mark.
But Salavat stuck back - helped by Alexei Simakov’s penalty miss on 40:58 against replacement goaltender Nikita Davydov, a youngster called in for his first taste of KHL action as Vitaly Kolsenik struggled. The experienced duo of Oleg Saprykin and Maxim Sushinsky weighed in with goals, and new arrival Antti Pihlstrom marked his KHL debut with a goal to tie the game at 3-3.