Both SKA St. Petersburg and Traktor Chelyabinsk suffered heavy defeats in Sunday’s KHL action. SKA went down first, losing 5-3 at Avangard Omsk. The home side took control in the first period, opening up a 2-0 lead. Next Alexander Perezhogin got to work with two further goals of his own. All of SKA’s scoring came in the third period, with Evgeny Artyukhin’s 1+1 proving the highlight of a losing cause.
Ak Bars blitz
Things were even worse for Traktor, which went down 6-2 at home to Ak Bars Kazan. The away side took a firm stranglehold on the game in the second period, firing in four unanswered goals from four different players. Danis Zaripov added two more in the final session as Traktor belatedly found its own shooting skills. Traktor stays on top of the KHL table, but such a big win serves a reminder that even in the first season after Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, regular play-off contenders Ak Bars cannot be written off this time around.
The surprise results continued in Yekaterinburg where Avtomobilist stunned defending champion Salavat Yulaev with a 6-2 win. Since it became clear that the Ural team could not reach the play-offs, Avto has hit an encouraging run of form with Nikolai Bushuyev piling up the points. Bushuyev got two more goals, opening the scoring after just 36 seconds, and by 28:04 it was 4-0 to the home side. Salavat attempted an unlikely fightback in the third, but came up short despite goals from Denis Platonov and Vitaly Proshkin.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk put an end to Dinamo Riga’s recent winning run and maintained interest in the play-off race in the West by keeping the Latvians in danger of being caught by Spartak. Prolific scorers Juhamatti Aaltonen and Sergei Mozyakin put Magnitka 2-0 up in the first period; a recovery from Dinamo could not prevent a 3-2 defeat for the visitors.
Fans in Astana saw another high-scoring game - and this time it was their favorites who came away with the win. Dustin Boyd fired a hat-trick past Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk as Barys ran out 7-4 winners and recovered from the 4-6 loss to Ak Bars on Friday. Team-mate Brandon Bochenski also posted a treble of assists to add to two goals of his own.
Biryukov’s star show
Not for the first time this season, Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk had goaltender Mikhail Birykov to thank for victory. This time he kept Atlant at bay, with 34 saves in the game and two more in the shoot-out after a 1-1 tie. Pavel Vorobyov claimed the game-winner.