The Moscow derby drew a sell-out crowd to Dynamo’s Luzhniki Arena and the 8,000 fans assembled there were treated to a thrilling 3-3 tie in regulation before CSKA claimed victory in the shoot-out.
When these teams met at the start of the season CSKA, so often the capital’s outsider in recent years, powered to a 4-1 victory that suggested the balance of power in Moscow might be changing at last.
Since then the Army Men had climbed to the top of the KHL table, while Dynamo lay somewhat off the pace in fourth in a hotly-contested Western Conference. With the Blue-and-Whites out to prove a point and CSKA eager to maintain its lead over SKA, the teams produced a highly competitive game where every challenge was delivered with juddering force and nobody was willing to concede an inch of territory.
In those conditions it took a while for either side to settle into a recognizable pattern of play, but by the end of the first period Dynamo had established a small advantage amid the furore. Defenseman Filip Novak had already rattled Stanislav Galimov’s post on a power play before the 14th minute when a passage of controlled, probing offense around the CSKA net eventually found the Czech with a clear sight of the net just inside the right-hand circle and his wrist shot gave the goalie no chance. Maxim Pestushko almost doubled the lead a minute before the hooter, but as he bore down on goal a challenge took him off balance and he careered into the post as the puck went wide.
But Dynamo had led in that game earlier this season only to fade away alarmingly – and there seemed to be every danger of a repeat when the hosts conceded twice in 60 seconds midway through the second session. Both goals were seasoned with a noticeable garnish of defensive uncertainty. First Alexander Radulov cut a swathe through a short-handed defense to drop the puck into space for Igor Grigorenko to slide it past Alexander Yeryomenko. Then awful defending allowed Roman Lyubimov several opportunities to attack the loose puck before he eventually beat the goalie to put CSKA in front from close range. It was almost even worse for the hosts; Yeryomenko’s careless clearance under pressure from Lyubimov presented Andrei Kuzmenko with a golden opportunity to extend the lead; the goalie recovered to redeem himself.
This time, though, Dynamo hit back right at the start of the second through Alexei Tsvetkov’s 100th goal in the Russian championship, firing home the rebound from a Martins Karsums shot. Thus inspired the home team created two fine opportunities but neither Kaspars Daugavins nor Nikolai Zherdevcould capitalize and gradually CSKA began to get on top once again. Yeryomenko made a fantastic save in the 48th minute and was in relief as the puck was hacked off his goalline two minutes later. It took a couple of penalties to slow the Army Men’s march and on the second of them Maxim Karpov fired a low one-timer past Galimov to put Dynamo ahead once again and see an increasingly frustrated Radulov ejected from the game after he carried his protests beyond the patience of the officials. Even without the inspirational captain CSKA found an equalizer on the power play with four minutes left as Nikolai Prokhorkin’s pass from the goal line found Nikita Zaitsev in the deep slot and he smacked a one-timer past Yeryomenko.
SKA built on its midweek return to winning ways with victory at home to Sibir, but the Petersburg team had to work hard to recover from 0-2 and 1-3 to snatch a 5-4 victory.
The Siberians opened the scoring in emphatic fashion in the ninth minute through Dmitry Monya. After Viktor Bobrov won a face-off on half way, Monya found space to advance to the blue line and shoot early, leaving Evgeny Ivannikov startled as the puck flew over his shoulder. The goalie had no more luck minutes later as Jonas Enlund deked and dummied his way forward before picking out a shot that lazered over the outstretched leg of a defenseman and found its home in the top corner of the net.
But late in the second Vadim Shipachyov pulled SKA back to 2-3 and early in the third Dmitry Kalinin tied it up before Ilya Kovalchuk and Andrei Kuteikin put the home team in front for the first time in the game. Enlund’s second of the night made it a tight finish but SKA held on.
Double derby in the East
Moscow wasn’t the only part of the KHL gripped by derby fever on Saturday – in Tatarstan and the Southern Urals fans also indulged in a little local rivalry.
First up Metallurg Magnitogorsk made the short trip to Chelyabinsk and overcame Traktor 3-2 in overtime. Yaroslav Kosov got the vital goal on 63:33 to give Magnitka the points. Previously Jan Bulis and Anton Glinkin struck early in the third period to tie the game at 2-2, cancelling out second-period goals from Chris Lee and Evgeny Timkin.
Later Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars went to its fellow Tatars from Neftekhimik and enjoyed a comfortable 4-1 win. The visitor scored early through Fyodor Malykhin and was seldom troubled after that. Mikhail Varnakov and Alexander Burmistrov extended that lead in the second period before Kirill Petrov made it 4-0 early in the third. Teemu Eronen got a consolation for Neftekhimik late on.
Around the league
A strong start put HC Sochi on the road to a 4-1 home win over Torpedo. Ilya Krikunov and Alexander Shcherbina scored in the first period, Igor Ignatushkin added a short-handed goal 26 seconds after the restart to leave Torpedo with too much to do.
There were plenty of goals in Astana, where Barys recovered from 2-4 down only to lose out in overtime against Admiral. Nigel Dawes scored two early on for the hosts, but it was left to Konstantin Rudenko and Dustin Boyd to claw back that deficit in the third. Artyom Zemchyonok got the over time winner for Admiral.
Ugra had little trouble in defeating Avtomobilist 4-0. Nikita Gusev and Igor Bortnikov set up the win in the first period, Airat Ziazov and Lukas Kaspar confirmed it in the second. Stepan Goryachevskikh made 30 saves.
Medvedscak’s old boys came back to haunt the Zagreb team in Minsk. All four goals for the home team came from former members of the Bears’ den. Matt Ellison (2), Ryan Vesce and Charles Linglet found the net in a 4-3 win.
Slovan and Atlant played out a 1-1 tie in regulation thanks to goals from Rok Ticar and Vyacheslav Leshchenko. Milan Bartovic missed a penalty shot in overtime but Ticar settled the shoot-out in Slovan’s favor.