CSKA Moscow 3 Jokerit Helsinki 6
According to the form table, this was a home banker. Jokerit had been struggling to find its game all season, while CSKA was imperious at the upper end of the Western Conference table despite two defeats in its last two games.
But the Finns pulled off a shock victory, recovering from a tough start to score four unanswered goals after the midway point and improve on a recent run of six defeats from seven games. Brian O’Neill was the catalyst for the win, scoring a hat-trick.
Initially everything seemed to be going to plan for the Army Men. Dmitry Kugryshev opened the scoring in the fifth minute and, after Charles Genoway equalized, Valery Nichushkin got his second goal since joining CSKA last month.
But then O’Neill got busy. The 28-year-old American tied the game at 2-2 just 17 seconds after Nichushkin’s strike, then gave Jokerit the lead for the first time three minutes later. Into the third stanza and Peteri Wirtanen extended the advantage before O’Neill completed his treble.
CSKA responded, belatedly, with Kugryshev’s second of the night but Jokerit still had the last word. Debutant Antti Pihlstrom marked the occasion with a goal; the Finnish international’s previous club was CSKA.
Spartak Moscow 2 Avangard Omsk 3
Avangard’s head coach Fyodor Kanareikin is a popular figure throughout Russian hockey – and nowhere more so than at Spartak. As a player he represented the club with distinction and as a coach he battled hard to keep the team on the ice against the backdrop of a financial crisis.
But Tuesday’s return to Moscow was strictly business. The home team was looking to make a winning start to life after the departure of head coach German Titov and much the better of the first period under the interim guidance of Alexei Yarushkin. Avangard did well to get to the intermission with the game still goalless.
It all changed in the middle stanza. Yegor Martynov converted a power play to Avangard in front, Derek Roy doubled the lead in the 36th minute. Spartak, with just two wins in its last 11 games, was in trouble yet again.
In the third, though, Dmitry Kalinin hauled the Red-and-Whites back on level terms. Two power play goals in the space of four minutes transformed the game and gave the host genuine hope of arresting its slump in form.
That was until Roy got back into action, bagging his second assist of the night to finish with three points as Maxim Pestushko got the winner in the 53rd minute.
Lada Togliatti 2 Kunlun Red Star 3
Two goals from Max Warn helped Kunlun to victory at Lada.
The home team led twice in the game, going ahead early thanks to Alexander Bumagin and making it 2-1 through Kristaps Sotnieks after Warn’s first of the evening.
But Miika Lahti tied it up again on the half-hour and the momentum tipped toward the visitor. Even though the final stanza brought few opportunities, Warn got the game winner on the power play with a little under three minutes to play. Victory moves the KHL newcomer to within two points of the playoff places, having played fewer games than most of its Eastern Conference rivals.
Around the league
Barys enjoyed a high-scoring victory at Traktor, edging the verdict by the odd goal in seven. The home team made the perfect start when Ilya Zinovyev found the net after just 109 seconds, but Barys responded with four unanswered goals. Talgat Zhailauov tied it up before Martin St. Pierre, Roman Starchenko and Vladimir Markelov built an imposing lead. Traktor battled to the last; Alexander Sharov and Artyom Penkovsky scored in the closing minutes to make it tense, but the visitor held on.
Salavat Yulaev left it too late to salvage anything from its home game with Ugra. The visitor was 3-0 in front after 40 minutes, buoyed by a Denis Khlystov goal after just 17 seconds and bolstered by two second-period strikes from Andrei Ankudinov and Konstantin Panov. Maxim Mayorov pulled one back at the start of the third and Teemu Hartikainen made it a one-goal game with three minutes left, but Ugra held on for a 3-2 verdict.
Two goals in the last 10 minutes gave Sibir a 3-1 win at Torpedo. The visitor quickly cancelled out Kirill Rasskazov’s second-period opener but had to wait until the 53rd minute before Konstantin Okulov made it 2-1. Joonas Kemppainen’s empty-netter wrapped up the win.
Dinamo Riga never really recovered from a dreadful start and ended up losing 4-3 at Severstal. The home team was 2-0 ahead inside five minutes thanks to Igor Magonin and Maxim Trunyov. Justin Shugg got one back for the Latvians, but Yury Trubachyov made it 3-1 just before the intermission. After the break, Dinamo improved and got back into the game. Shugg scored his second before Colton Gillies tied it up at 3-3 going into the third. But Severstal would not be denied; Dmitry Kagarlitsky claimed the winner in the 48th minute.
It took a late rally for HC Sochi to see off Metallurg Novokuznetsk and end its recent slump in form. Despite taking the lead through an early goal from Pavel Padakin, the host trailled in the third period after Ignat Zemchenko and Nikita Lyamkin turned the game around for Kuznya. But there was a further twist to come: Ivan Zakharchuk tied it up on the power play before Padakin’s second won it six minutes from time.
Robert Sabolic got the game-winner for Admiral in a 3-1 success at Neftekhimik. The Slovenian international snapped a 1-1 tie early in the second period and Vladimir Tkachyov soon added a third. Neftekhimik found goalie Igor Bobkov in terrific form; Admiral’s man saved 39 shots to keep his team out in front. Justin Azevedo and Mikhail Varnakov scored as Ak Bars got past Amur with a 2-1 scoreline in Kazan. Artyom Zub replied for the visitor in the third period but couldn’t stop the host making it six wins in a row.