SKA St. Petersburg 2 Dynamo Moscow 1 (SO)
The rivalry between SKA and Dynamo has been one of the most compelling of the KHL era. It pits Russia’s biggest cities against each other, it’s generated several thrilling playoff series and now, for added spice, it puts SKA head Oleg Znarok up against the club he led to two Gagarin Cup triumphs. This season, though, the two teams are on divergent paths. While SKA is romping away at the top of the table, Dynamo is entrenched in a hard-fought battle to confirm a playoff place. On paper, it was no surprise that SKA extended its winning run to seven games; on the ice, it was a rather more hard-fought affair.
There wasn’t much between the teams in the first period, and only a power play goal just before the intermission gave SKA a slender advantage. Vadim Shipachyov rattled one into the top corner from the left-hand face-off spot with just 17 seconds left on the clock.
In the middle stanza, Dynamo faced a tougher task as both teams put the accent on defense. Despite chasing the game, the visitor was limited to just two shots at Igor Shestyorkin’s goal. But come the third the Blue-and-Whites tied it up. Artyom Fyodorov, who was in the penalty box when SKA opened the scoring, atoned for his indiscretion by getting his stick on Ansel Galimov’s pass from behind the net. Game tied, 10 to play; all bets were off.
Ultimately it needed a shoot-out. Again, SKA didn’t have it easy. Vladimir Bryukvin scored with Dynamo’s first attempt; Alexander Yeryomenko backed him up with a glove save against Pavel Datsyuk. Fyodorov hit the post, and Sergei Shirokov shot over Yeryomenko’s glove to tie it up again. Then, after Alexei Tsvetkov missed the target, Kovalchuk demonstrated his skills to outwit the Dynamo goalie and claim the win.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 Kunlun Red Star 5 (SO)
It was 38 games in the making, but finally Kunlun Red Star found itself tied at the end of regulation. The Chinese team navigated the perils of overtime comfortably enough, then found itself embroiled in a first-ever shoot-out.
The key confrontation pitted home goalie Niklas Svedberg against Slovak forward Martin Bakos, whose second-period marker had chased the Swede from the ice. The duel produced a similar result: Bakos scored with a wrister from close in, Salavat failed to find a way past Tomi Karhunen, and the win went to China.
Kunlun deserved the verdict. The visitor never trailed in regulation, going ahead in the 10th minute through Janne Jalasvaara, regaining the lead on a Tomi Sallinen strike deep in the first period and opening a 4-2 advantage thanks to Bakos and Chad Rau in the second. Only a late equalizer from Denis Kulyash with two-and-a-half minutes remaining denied Red Star a regulation victory. But the defenseman merely delayed the moment when Vladimir Yurzinov, once head coach in Ufa, claimed his second victory of the season against his former club.
The win also boosts Kunlun’s playoff push, lifting the team to sixth place and opening a five point over ninth-placed Sibir. The Siberians also played two games more than Red Star, adding to the growing belief that the Chinese team can make post-season in its rookie campaign.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Admiral Vladivostok 3
The final score might look decisive, but this game was anything but a calm voyage for the defending champion. Down 1-3 at one stage, it took two goals in the last 67 seconds to snatch a win for Metallurg.
Alexander Semin snapped a 3-3 tie on 58:53 after Tomas Filippi wrestled control of the puck on the slot and fed his team-mate at the far post. Twenty-seven seconds later Evgeny Timkin put the issue beyond doubt, picking up a loose puck in acres of space in front of the net and firing past Igor Bobkov. Earlier, though, it was Admiral’s offense that impressed. Maxim Kazakov gave the visitor a short-lived lead in the first period, although Oskar Osala quickly equalized. The middle session saw Viktor Alexandrov and Alexander Gorshkov give the Sailors a 3-1 lead, ending Vasily Koshechkin’s evening in the home net. Ilya Samsonov came in and denied any further away goals, while Jan Kovar scored on the power play late in the second to sow the seeds of doubt among the Admiral players. The impressive Filippi tied the game in the 48th minute as Magnitka piled on the pressure, and the home team finally forged ahead in the closing moments of the game.
Jokerit Helsinki 1 Slovan Bratislava 3
HC Sochi 1 Ak Bars Kazan 2
CSKA Moscow 5 Vityaz Podolsk 2
Dynamo’s defeat in St. Petersburg gave the other teams in the race for the top eight a chance to improve their positions – but all of the contenders who played today ended up worse off after losing in regulation.
Jokerit suffered the most disappointing result, crashing at home to an inconsistent Slovan team. Ziga Jeglic put the Slovaks 2-0 up before Jesse Joensuu got the host on the board in the second period. There was no fightback, though: Patrik Lusnak added a third late in the middle stanza.
HC Sochi always looked to have the toughest task on the day, facing Eastern Conference high flyer Ak Bars. The Black Sea battled hard but lost out to Fyodor Malykhin’s 39th-minute goal. Earlier Andrei Kostitsyn had cancelled out Alexander Svitov’s sixth-minute opener.
Just outside the playoff places, Vityaz failed to gain ground after suffering a heavy defeat at CSKA. The Army Men took control in the first period with goals from Kirill Petrov and Sergei Andronov and never looked back. Greg Scott and Alexander Nikulin traded goals in the middle period before Semyon Koshelev and Maxim Mamin put the result beyond doubt. Alexei Kopeikin grabbed a late consolation for Vityaz.
Around the league
Derek Roy scored for the second game in a row to help Traktor to a 3-1 win at home to Amur. Roy opened the scoring in the first period and Kirill Koltsov’s power play marker made it 2-0 late in the second. Vitaly Popov gave Amur hope early in the third but Maxim Yakutsenya sealed the win with an empty-net goal.
Two goals from Evgeny Mons put Severstal on track for a surprise win at home to Lokomotiv. The forward struck either side of the second intermission, cancelling out Vladislav Gavrikov’s opener for the visitor. Daniil Vovchenko added a third for Severstal before young prospect Alexander Polunin got one back for Loko late on. Severstal ended a 10-game losing streak.
Spartak scored twice in the last minute to put a dent in Neftekhimik’s playoff prospects. The game was tied at 1-1 after Richard Gynge cancelled out Konstantin Glazachev’s fourth-minute opener, but Igor Mirnov gave the Red-and-Whites the lead on 59:23 and Ryan Stoa added an empty-net goal to wrap it up.
John Norman gave Torpedo a shoot-out win over Lada following a 1-1 tie in Nizhny Novgorod. Brandon McMillan opened the scoring for Torpedo, Stanislav Bocharov replied for Lada.
The clash of the outsiders saw Medvescak win 4-0 at Dinamo Riga. Terry Galiardi, Lukas Lessio, Francis Pare and Bobby Butler got the goals, Drew MacIntyre made 34 saves.