Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 (SO)
Incoming Neftekhimik coach Andrei Nazarov faced a tough task in only his second game behind the bench at the Eastern Conference struggler – but despite a defeat he will have found plenty of encouragement in this display at the reigning champion.
The former Barys chief made a winning start to life in Tatarstan before the international break and came close to a major upset here, only two big saves to deny the visitor.
The first of those came in the third period. The scores were tied at 1-1 when Pavel Kulikov won a penalty shot that could have given Neftekhimik the lead in a tight game. Vasily Koshechkin shut the door on that one, and the game went to overtime and finally a shoot-out. Kulikov’s miss proved prophetic; while Magnitak was flawless in its three attempts, Ilya Vorobyov replaced Koshechkin with Ilya Samsonov for Neftekhimik’s final effort. The gamble paid off; Samsonov denied Dan Sexton to end Neftekhimik’s hopes.
Earlier the home team, with its top line of Sergei Mozyakin, Danis Zaripov and Jan Kovar reunited again, took a first-period lead. Mozyakin got the goal in the 18th minute. But Sexton tied it up in the second stanza before Mozyakin eventually claimed the shoot-out winner.
Despite the defeat, Neftekhimik took one point from the game and edged up two places to 11th in the East. The team is now four adrift of the playoff places. Magnitka extends its winning run to five games.
Dinamo Riga 2 Kunlun Red Star 5
China to Latvia is one of the longest trips in any sporting competition, but the players and fans of Kunlun Red Star won’t be complaining about racking up the airmiles after recording the new team’s biggest ever road win in Riga.
Dinamo, struggling at the foot of the Western Conference, hoped to build on a win over Dinamo Minsk in its last outing. A ninth-minute goal from Pyotr Schastlivy suggested that there might be further grounds for happiness beside the Baltic, but everything went wrong for the host in the second stanza.
Special teams made the difference. Linus Videll tied it up on the power play in the 25th minute and the Swede got an assist as Chad Rau made it 2-1 just after the half hour. Then a second power play goal saw Martin Bakos give the Chinese team a commanding advantage.
The final session was even worse for Dinamo, with Kunlun getting two short-handed goals. Oleg Yashin made it 4-1 as Tomas Marcinko sat out a penalty from the end of the second period. Then Marcinko was a spectator again as Rau got his second of the night. This time he shot into an empty net as Dinamo threw caution to the wind in search of a way back into the game. Once Jakub Sedlacek returned to the game, the Latvians got a goal back on that power play through Patrick Mullen – but it was already too late to save the game.
Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (SO)
Andrei Popov and Anton Glinkin returned to haunt their home-town team as Ak Bars recorded a fifth successive victory to remain top of the Eastern Conference.
Popov cancelled out Maxim Yakutsenya’s opener in the 37th minute, and two minutes later Ak Bars was in front thanks to recent signing Stefan Elliott’s second goal since arriving in Russia. Young Alexei Kruchinin got Traktor back on level terms in the third, scoring his fourth of the season to make it 2-2. The shoot-out was dominated by visiting goalie Stanislav Galimov, who denied Yakutsenya, new signing Derek Roy and Ryan Vesce. Glinkin found a way past Vasily Demchenko at the other end to snatch the points for Ak Bars.
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 Slovan Bratislava 4
Veteran coach Vladimir Krikunov took over the reins at Avtomobilist following the departure of Andrei Razin, but the new man could not arrest the team's slide. Razin was released from his duties as the team struggled to match last season's playoff form and stumbled into the lower reaches of the Eastern Conference. But Krikunov was not able to inspire an immediate improvement, looking on as his new charges struggled with the PK at home to Slovan. A Ziga Jeglic hat-trick dominated this game, with the Slovenian's pair of powerplay strikes in the middle session proving decisive.
Earlier Jonathan Cheechoo gave Slovan the lead but Petr Koukal tied it up in the 16th minute during a 5-on-3 power play. Jeglic got busy in the middle frame, scoring in the 28th and 39th minutes before adding an empty-netter to wrap up the result.
Around the league
Anton Burdasov scored twice to give Avangard a 2-1 victory at home to Torpedo. The former SKA man took his season’s tally to five with a sixth-minute opener and a power play goal in the 55th. But Torpedo still made things nervous for the host when Evgeny Grachyov pulled one back with 74 seconds left to play. Avangard remain second in the East, two points clear at the top of the Chernyshev Division.
Salavat Yulaev is continuing to press Avangard, boosted by a 4-2 win over Lada. This game was settled in the final stanza when the Motormen finally ran out of gas after a big fightback. Anton Shenfeld and Stanislav Bocharov clawed back a 0-2 deficit, only for Enver Lisin’s second of the night and Kirill Kaprizov’s eighth goal in nine games to take the home team to victory.
Brian O’Neill was Jokerit’s savior in a hard-fought win over Amur. The American had a goal and an assist in regulation as the team’s tied 2-2 before stepping up to decide the outcome in the shoot-out. Peter Regin was Jokerit’s other scorer; Tomas Zahorna and Vladislav Ushenin were on target for Amur.
Metallurg Novokuznetsk snapped a seven-game losing streak thanks to a stellar goaltending display from Andrei Kareyev. The youngster made 42 saves as the game against HC Sochi finished goalless. In the subsequent shoot-out, Kirill Semyonov was the only player to score as Kuznya claimed the narrowest of victories.
Former Sibir goalie Nikita Bespalov enjoyed a happy return to his former club, claiming a shut-out in Spartak's 2-0 win. He made 27 saves in Novosibirsk; goals from Matthew Gilroy and Igor Mirnov, both on the power play, gave Spartak the verdict.
Another goalie, Igor Bobkov, enjoyed a great day between the piping for Admiral in Minsk. He made 43 saves to help his team to a 3-0 victory over Dinamo. The home team created more opportunities, but it was the clinical finishing of top scorer Robert Sabolic that made the difference in the first period. The final stanza saw Alexander Gorshkov make it 2-0 before Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev added a third into the empty net.