It took a long time to separate the day’s biggest hitters as this clash in Omsk was deadlocked until deep into the third period.
Avangard was looking for a win to tighten its grip on second place in the East, while Jokerit desperately needed points to support its playoff push in the West, but for 56 minutes the two teams cancelled each other out.
And that left Avangard head coach Fyodor Kanareikin frustrated with some individual performances. After the game, he told reporters that Jokerit could have got ahead in the middle stanza and complained that too many experienced players were worrying about their reputations rather than the team’s results. “If the players can’t reach the right conclusions, I’ll scratch them from the team,” he warned during the post-game press conference.
It wasn’t until Valentin Pyanov solved visiting goalie Ryan Zapolski on 56:25 that the scoreboard finally flickered into life.
Given what had gone before, it seemed reasonable to assume that this would be the winner – but Jokerit had other ideas and Ville Lajunen salvaged a point with his goal on 59:12.
Overtime – in the new 3-on-3 format – also went almost the full distance before Avangard snatched it thanks to Mikhail Yunkov’s goal five seconds before the hooter. Avangard extended its winning run to five games; all three of Yunkov’s goals this season have come in that sequence.
Barys forward Nigel Dawes, already established as the KHL’s top goal-scoring import ahead of team-mate Brandon Bochenski, overtook another notable name in this season’s scoring charts.
The Kazakh-Canadian dual-national poached his 23rd marker of the current season to overtake SKA’s Ilya Kovalchuk and go second on the goal-scoring list behind record-breaker Sergei Mozyakin.
Dawes’ 48th-minute goal in the Far East tied that game at 1-1. Soon after, Roman Starchenko got a vital second for his team, clinching a 2-1 victory that lifts Barys into the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
But it wasn’t the prettiest goal of the game: that honor went to Tomas Zohorna’s opener for the host. The Czech gave Amur the lead with some slick puck-handling to get around Maxim Semyonov before beating Henrik Karlsson.
Kunlun goalie Tomi Karhunen began his Monday with good news – the ‘goalie of the week’ award for the preceding seven days after two victories. And he finished it in impressive style, blanking Ugra in a shoot-out to secure another valuable win for his play-off chasing team.
Two other Finns provided the Kunlun goals, with Tuukka Mantyla opening the scoring early on and Tomi Sallinen grabbing a dramatic short-handed equalizer with less than 30 seconds to play.
In between, though, Ugra looked to have earn new head coach Andrei Razin his first win behind the bench after scoring twice in the 19th minute. Konstantin Panov and Alexander Akmaldinov did the damage, and the lead lasted until late in the game.
It wasn’t enough, though. Sallinen tied it up late on, Karhunen set the tone for the shoot-out by denying Panov a second success on the night and Damien Fleury delivered the decider for Red Star.
Three goals in eight minutes at the start of the third period earned Traktor a 3-2 win at Medvescak and lifted the Chelyabinsk team to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Tomas Mertl gave the home team a ninth-minute lead that held until the second intermission, but Derek Roy tied it up in the 42nd to set Traktor on its way. Alexei Petrov made it 2-1 within a minute and Alexander Sharov added a third in the 50th. Francis Pare reduced the deficit but the Croatian team could not salvage anything from the game.
Dinamo Minsk eased to a 2-0 win at Metallurg Novokuznetsk to move up to fifth in the Western Conference. Rob Klinkhammer opened the scoring in the 13th minute and then assisted on Evgeny Kovyrshin’s short-handed goal early in the third. Goalie Ben Scrivens had 19 saves for his shut-out, but his opposite number Vladislav Podyapolsky had a much busier game, facing 50 attempts from Dinamo.
Avtomobilist boosted its playoff hopes with a 3-1 win at Admiral – but needed two late goals to complete a come-from-behind win. Vladimir Tkachyov, another in-form player, put the Sailors in front in the 31st minute, but Rok Ticar levelled late in the middle stanza. The game was in the balance until the 55th minute when Ticar got his second of the night. Petr Koukal found the empty net to seal the victory.
Sibir stayed in touch with the playoff chasers in the East thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Dinamo Riga. The club’s leading scorer, Sergei Shumakov, made it 16 for the season when he opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Stepan Sannikov doubled the lead early in the second with a power play effort. Roberts Lipsbergs got Dinamo’s consolation goal midway through the third period.