Nizhny Novgorod (17:00)
Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Metallurg Novokuznetsk 2
The Metallurg derby was closer than the teams’ recent form might suggest, but in the end the favorite prevailed to take the victory that lifts it back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Kuznya had managed just two wins in eight games since a surprise shoot-out success over its namesake on October 1, while Magnitka had two losses in eight since that date. Not surprisingly, then, the full extent of the Eastern Conference table lies between the two teams.
But the game proved rather more evenly matched. The host took a very early lead thanks to Viktor Antipin’s goal over 26 seconds, but could not build that platform into a commanding advantage. Instead Kuznya frustrated its more illustrious opponent throughout the first period before tying the game through Evgeny Solovyov early in the second period.
Magnitka’s big guns got in on the act. Sergei Mozyakin pounced for a close-range finish to make it 2-1, then Jan Kovar punished a poor clearance from goalie Mikhail Biryukov to make it three as the middle session ended.
But Novokuznetsk still wasn’t done. A determined third-period display ensured that the home team could not relax on its lead, and Ivan Yemets pulled a goal back in the 57th minute to ensure a tense finale.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 Avangard Omsk 3
Avangard withstood a third-period fightback to take all three points from this clash of two Eastern Conference powerhouses.
The visitor seemed to be well in control of the game after taking a 3-0 lead inside 25 minutes, but Salavat Yulaev hit back with two goals in two minutes to blow the encounter wide open once again. Avangard was pinned in its own zone for much of the final stages, with young forward Kirill Kaprizov missing a great chance to tie the game, but Dominik Furch held firm in the away net to secure a confidence-boosting win.
Kaprizov still took many of the post-game plaudits after getting a goal and an assist to revive a sluggish Salavat performance. Head coach Igor Zakharkin suggested that in Kaprizov we are seeing the birth of a great player. “In those moments, when others are nervous, he wasn’t afraid to take the responsibility upon himself; to seize control of the game, to go for goal, to shoot,” the coach told his club’s website. “We should be happy that Russia has such talented youngsters, we should applaud them and enjoy their game.”
Kaprizov, a graduate of the Novokuznetsk academy, caught the eye but could not win the game for his team. Avangard avenged an earlier home defeat to this opponent thanks to first-period goals from Denis Parshin and Vladimir Sobotka and a second-period strike from Nikolai Lemtyugov. The win strengthens Avangard’s grip on second place in the East.
Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2
Sibir’s new signing, forward Zach Boychuk, got a debut goal in Chelyabinsk ... but still ended on the losing side.
The Canadian, freshly arrived from the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, tied the game up with a power play goal in the 29th minute, completing his team’s recovery from 0-2 down.
But it wasn’t enough to deny Traktor: Konstantin Klimontov added to his first-period assist with a game-winning goal in the 44th minute. Earlier Klimontov got an assist on Dmitry Pestunov’s third-minute opener before Alexander Chernikov made it 2-0 on 4:29. But Boychuk got an assist as Joonas Kemppainen reduced the deficit during a 5-on-3 power play before the Finn returned the favor two minutes later as Sibir new special team showed its potential.
Around the league
While every game in the Eastern Conference finished 3-2, all the matches in the West ended 2-1. In Sochi, Torpedo opened up a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Kaspars Daugavins and Kirill Vorobyov. The home team pulled one back in the last minute through Eric O’Dell but could not salvage anything from the game.
Jokerit produced the same scoreline at Vityaz. Peter Regin put the visitor ahead in the 27th minute, only for Alexei Kopeikin to level the game 24 seconds into the final stanza. Marko Antilla got the winner with 12 minutes left.
Dynamo Moscow and Dinamo Riga went to a shoot-out after a 1-1 tie in the Russian capital. Krisjanis Redlihs put the Latvians ahead in the first period but Alexei Tsvetkov scored in the second to take the game the full distance. Lukas Kaspar, finally back to full fitness, claimed the winner in that shoot-out as Dynamo keeps some distance between itself and the pack of clubs chasing a playoff spot.