Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1
Magnitka edged a victory in the big game of the day thanks to two goals in the second period – but the defending champion once again owed much to Ilya Samsonov in a game where Loko created plenty of chances but struggled to outwit the young goalie. Samsonov recorded his first shut-out of the season on Monday against Dynamo but was beaten early in this one when Pavel Kraskovsky opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Kraskovsky and his line-mates Yegor Korshkov and Mikhail Polunin have been talked up as some of Russia’s brightest young prospects, and they combined well here to recycle the puck behind the net and pop it out front for Kraskovsky to sweep it up and fire home a wrist shot from the slot.
Loko continued to shade the game, at least on stats, until midway through the second stanza. But then the fearsome Magnitka power play got its chance and Chris Lee finished off a rapid interchange of passes with a mighty strike past Alexei Murygin. Viktor Antipin had a neat no-look assist on that one, but topped it with a goal of his own to put Metallurg in front in the 39th minute. He took the puck past a startled Daniil Apalkov and rushed to the near post through the gap vacated by the Loko man. A close-range finish beat Murygin at his near post and the home team had an advantage it would not relinquish.
Lokomotiv tried hard to get back into it, but Samsonov was in uncompromising mood. The young goalie finished with 38 saves; his team finished with three hard-earned points.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 Vityaz Podolsk 2
Two goals in the last seven minutes – and a game-winner 11 seconds from the end – saw Vityaz snatch a vital win in its bid for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Roman Horak got the decisive goal on 59:49. Vityaz exploited its power play well, and seemed to have created a clear chance for Alexei Kopeikin in the left-hand circle. But instead of firing off a shot on goal, the former Sibir man fluffed his attempt and the puck squirmed towards the slot. Horak reacted fastest to snaffle up the unexpected chance and give Vityaz the victory.
Salavat Yulaev came into the game in good form, even if the absence of star forward Linus Omark with a cold put a slight dampener on a run of one defeat in eight games. Initially it seemed that normal service would continue for the host. A dominant first-period saw Salavat out-shoot the visitor 21-7, but it wasn’t until 19:31 that Alexander Loginov opened the scoring as Harri Sateri performed wonders in the Vityaz net.
That pattern continued in the second, with 12 more Sateri saves and no more Salavat scoring. And the Finnish goalie was rewarded by his team-mates in the third when Miro Aaltonen tied it up with another power play goal on 53 minutes before Horak won it at the death.
Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 Dynamo Moscow 2 (OT)
The short journey from Magnitogorsk to Chelyabinsk seems to have had a restorative effect on Dynamo. The Blue-and-Whites suffered a crushing 0-5 defeat at Metallurg, but recovered to win in overtime at Traktor and climb back into the playoff places.
The game was tied at 1-1 in regulation, with the goals coming in quick succession late in the second period. Ilya Nikulin, whose error cost Dynamo one of those goals in Magnitogorsk, made amends when he opened the scoring on 37 minutes, but 62 seconds later Maxim Yakutsenya tied it up. Dynamo had more opportunities but couldn’t beat Pavel Francouz in the home goal until the 62nd minute. Then Yegor Dugin got through on the net and found the target to give the Muscovites a much-needed win.
Around the league
Barys picked up an impressive 4-1 win at home to Kunlun. The Kazakhs wasted little time in asserting themselves against their Asian rival, scoring twice in the first five minutes through Nikita Ivanov and Cam Barker. Damien Fleury got one back for Red Star, but third-period markers for Nigel Dawes and Roman Starchenko wrapped up a comfortable home win.
Avtomobilist’s hopes of getting into the playoff race suffered a setback with a shoot-out defeat at home to lowly Amur. Goalies Juha Metsola and Igor Ustinsky were on top for much of regulation, with Amur’s Maxim Kondratyev finally breaking the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Dmitry Monya forced overtime with his 57th-minute equalizer, but Avto couldn’t salvage the win. Instead Tomas Zohorna wrapped up the shoot-out after Metsola outwitted Monya and Rok Ticar.
Viktor Alexandrov got the only goal to give Admiral a 1-0 win at Ugra. He struck in the 53rd minute to break the deadlock, while Igor Bobkov made 25 saves to deny the home team.