Bobby Butler had a goal and a shoot-out winner to give Torpedo the edge in a low-scoring game in Yekaterinburg, while Sochi’s second big road win of the year lifts it back into the playoff places. Defeats for Spartak and Medvescak hamper their post-season prospects.
For the second game running, Sochi rattled up a big road win to reignite its playoff prospects. This win in Kazakhstan was enough to lift the team back into the top eight, level on points with its closest rival, Vityaz.
Despite the scoreline, though, much of the game was even, with wayward finishing from Barys and strong goaltending from Konstantin Barulin doing much to keep Sochi on top.
The visitor took the lead late in the first period. Ivan Zakharchuk crunched Martin St. Pierre behind the net and quickly stuffed the puck past the surprised Henrik Karlsson. In the second period Alexei Pepelyayev doubled the lead, firing a shot through a screen of players to beat Karlsson.
Bobby Butler, a recent revival at Torpedo following his transfer from Medvescak, was the architect of his new team’s second win of the New Year.
The 29-year-old American broke the deadlock in an evenly-matched game, scoring the opening goal late in the second period after escaping the clutches of Nikita Shchitov and beating Vladimir Sokhatsky from close range.
Avto responded with barely five minutes left, in a play that seemed to mirror the opening goal. This time Butler turned over possession to Alexei Mikhnov, and Shchitov exacted revenge by firing home the equalizer.
A Nikolai Zherdev deke almost handed Torpedo an overtime winner, but the game went to a shoot-out. Ilya Proskuryakov came off the bench to replace Mikhail Biryukov in the Torpedo net. Butler scored the decisive goal at the other end, to wrap up a good day for him and a Torpedo team that remains third in the Western Conference.
The outside hopes of Spartak sneaking into a playoff spot always seemed to hang on the team’s current eight-game road trip. And a heavy defeat against struggling Ugra dealt a big blow to the Red-and-Whites’ chances.
But Ugra head coach Andrei Razin admitted that his team was fortunate still to be in the game after the visitor got off to a flying start. Dmitry Kalinin opened the scoring after five minutes and Spartak could have extended that lead before Anton Korolyov tied the game with his first goal of the season in the 13th minute. By the intermission, it was 3-1 as Alexander Makarov and Evgeny Lapenkov extended Avto’s advantage.
The middle stanza was goalless, and the third saw Spartak reduce the arrears thanks to Maxim Potapov in the 43rd minute. Yet there was to be no big revival. Andrei Alexeyev quickly reinstated the two-goal advantage and Roman Lyuduchin completed the scoring with a goal against his first KHL club.
With four wins in a row either side of the New Year, Medvescak was showing signs of putting together an unlikely late playoff push. Meanwhile Admiral’s inconsistent form saw it drop to eighth in the East.
So, when Kirill Voronin gave the home team a third-minute lead here, things looked set fair for another Medvescak success and further pressure on the team from Vladivostok.
It wasn’t to be, though. Maxim Kazakov tied the game late in the first period and Admiral went on to dominate much of the middle session. Artyom Zemchyonok’s 35-minute goal was arguably an ungenerous reward for a period in which the visitor had twice as many opportunities as its host.
Alexander Gorshkov added a third in the 45th minute with his team’s first shot of the final stanza. Medvescak worked hard for a route back into the game, but the puck would not bounce the right way and an empty-net goal for Kazakov finished it off. Admiral’s win takes the team up to seventh in the East; Medvescak remains 10 points behind the top eight.