Saturday’s big game in the Western Conference lived up to its billing with a dramatic finish. Dynamo Moscow scored twice in the last minute to snatch a 4-3 win over Medvescak, but the Zagreb team once again showed it was not easily intimidated by illustrious opponents.
Dynamo led for just four seconds in the entire game, and was trailing 2-3 going into the last minute. But after going 6-on-5 Alexei Tsvetkov tied it at threes on 59:10, forcing the puck through Mark Dekanich’s pads off Marek Kvapil’s pass from behind. Then, with overtime beckoning crowd favorite Leo Komarov led one last attack, and saw his shot bounce kindly for Denis Mosalyov to fire high into the net as the Luzhniki crowd erupted with joy on 59:56.
However, every credit goes to Medvescak for producing yet another performance which suggests the newcomer’s elevated league position is no accident. As early as the third minute the visitor took the lead when a flurry of shots on Alexander Yeryomenko ended with Ryan Vesce slotting the puck into an unguarded corner from close range. After that it was time for the Medvescak defense to shine, absorbing plenty of blue-and-white pressure without buckling. Even after the home team leveled early in the second – Martins Karsums letting fly with a wrist-shot which ripped into Mark Dekanich’s top corner – the Croatians put up strong resistance to frustrate Dynamo.
Indeed, the visitor went one better, grabbing a 2-1 lead seconds before the interval thanks to another potent counter-attack. Kurtis Foster’s shot extended Yeryomenko, and the rebound fell kindly for Charles Linglet to lift the puck into the roof of the net. Kvapil teed up Konstantin Volkov to tie that one up early in the third, but it looked as if the points were heading west when Michael Ryan emerged from the penalty box in time to pick up an aimless clearance from Sasa Martinovic and score in a one-on-one. But Dynamo asserted its championship credentials at the death to snatch a thrilling win.
Stopper turns scorer
A freak goal credited to Barys goaltender Vitaly Yeremeyev proved crucial as Sibir’s winning streak was ended. The veteran goalie became only the third netminder in KHL history to score a goal, although he would be the first to admit he had little to do with the puck finding the Sibir net on a delayed penalty. Sibir had withdrawn its netminder in anticipation of the powerplay, only for Igor Ozhiganov’s powerful shot to rattle around the boards … and roll into his own net. Yeremeyev had been the last Barys player to touch the puck, and thus became only the third goalie in KHL history to claim a goal.
Sibir’s misfortune was compounded by two goals for Nigel Dawes which saw the Kazakh team wipe out a 0-2 deficit and keep the pressure on Ak Bars at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The wait is over
Metallurg Novokuznetsk finally tasted victory after 14 straight losses – but Avangard’s problems continue after giving up a 3-1 lead and going down 4-3 to its Siberian rival.
Alexei Kosourov was the hero for the home team, grabbing the winner in the 58th minute as he advanced down the boards and surprised Andrei Mezin with an early shot. Avangard’s frustrationsspilled over moments later when defenseman Denis Kulyash was called for a head-high check and ended up getting a 2+2+5+20 for that violation and its aftermath.
Yet it could have been so different from the Omsk team: after a tied first session the visitor opened up a 3-1 lead thanks to Alexander Frolov and Alexander Perezhogin. But shaky defense has been a problem for Avangard throughout the season, and once again it proved costly as Rafael Akhmetov’s second of the evening was followed by Vadim Mitryakov’s equalizer early in the third.
The win spares Metallurg the indignity of setting a new KHL record for successive defeats: its now-concluded 14-game losing streak ties with Avtomobilist’s struggles of last season.
Ivannikov impresses again
Admiral’s young goalie Evgeny Ivannikov produced his second starring performance in the space of a week, making 39 saves to help the Vladivostok team to a 2-1 win over Avtomobilist.
The early stages of the game went the way of the home side: Enver Lisin and Felix Schutz opened up a 2-0 lead inside seven minutes. But Avto soon revved up and dominated the second period, outshooting its host 24-10. However, only one of those attempts, during a 5v3 powerplay, found the net, with Fyodor Malykhin halving the deficit after a flurry of efforts on Ivannikov’s goal.
Around the league
Alexei Morozov scored on his return to the CSKA roster after injury and helped his team to a 2-1 win at Lev. Morozov opened the scoring, but it was Vladimir Zharkov who won it early in the third. CSKA moves ahead of the Prague team in the Western Conference.
Ak Bars stretched its winning streak to six games with a comfortable victory over Dinamo Minsk. The home team raced into a 4-0 lead before halfway and eventually cruised to a 5-1 win with Tomas Vincour scoring twice.
Vyacheslav Kozlov’s overtime goal saw Spartak recover a 0-3 deficit to win at Torpedo. The home side three in 12 second-period minutes, but could not hold its advantage and paid the price as Spartak hit back in the third.