It all looked so easy for league leaders SKA St. Petersburg after racing into a 2-0 lead at Barys Astana - but the home side battled back bravely to run out 5-2 winners. To rub salt into SKA’s wounds, the decisive goal came on a Petersburg powerplay, but Brandon Bochenski’s precise pass fed Dustin Boyd and his finish left Jakub Stepanek with no chance. That made it 3-2, after Kevin Dallman and Evgeny Fadeyev had tied the game. Earlier Patrick Thoresen had opened the scoring before getting the assist on Tony Martensson’s goal.
Surovy the star
In Moscow there was another surprise result, with CSKA beating Salavat Yulaev 3-1. The home side has put its awful form in December firmly behind it: three wins in a row have all but secured a play-off berth and Sunday’s was the most impressive of the three. Tomas Surovy got the opener, and popped up again on 57:00 to complete the scoring as Salavat sought to complete a recovery from 0-2. In the event, though, Igor Mirnov’s effort on 41:35 was all the visitors could show.
Traktor back on form
Traktor’s fans were wondering when their team would return to winning ways after a run of unconvincing results - but a third period blitz got the Chelyabinsk team back on track. Three unanswered goals secured a 4-1 verdict over Atlant Moscow Region after two periods where the visitors hung on tenaciously. Konstanin Panov and Jan Bulis both posted 1+1 in the third period though, and Petri Kontiola got the game-winning goal to refuel Traktor’s play-off push.
Minsk indebted to great goaltending
Dinamo Minsk also returned to form in emphatic style - but despite a 5-0 win over Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk it was goaltender Kevin Lalande who caught the eye. The shot tally was fairly even throughout - it finished 26-28 in Neftekhimik’s favor - but Lalande was in unbeatable form to take the man of the match award. At the other end, Zbynek Irgl had 1+1 and scored perhaps the best goal of the night; Teemu Laine and Jaroslav Obsut both had 0+2.
Emphatic Ak Bars
Ak Bars enjoyed an emphatic win at Lev Poprad, and the Slovak hosts have now lost six in a row. The Kazan side has not enjoyed the best of recent form, with just one win in four in 2012, but proved far too strong for Lev. Emil Lundberg managed to cancel out Alexei Tereshchenko’s opener for Ak Bars, but that was as good as it got for the hosts as the away team took complete control in the second period and eventually ran out the 5-1 winner.
Riga motors on
Dinamo Riga’s players have already set themselves the task of finishing higher than eighth and avoiding SKA in the first round of the play-offs - and a 2-0 win at Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg can only help achieve that aim. Martins Karsums and Jekabs Redlihs got the goals in the Urals.