A Carter Ashton double maintained Torpedo’s perfect start to life in 2017 as the team won 3-1 at Barys, while young Ugra forward Yegor Ivanov claimed a spectacular game-winning goal to stop Sochi. Elsewhere, Spartak’s playoff hopes took a further blow in a defeat at Avtomobilist while Jeff Taffe struck in the dying seconds to give Slovan the edge over Admiral.
2017 continues to be a good year for Torpedo, with Peteris Skudra’s men making it three wins from three since the bells chimed on December 31.
Barys was the latest victim, despatched by a double from Carter Ashton and a somewhat fortunate first-period goal credited to Maxim Osipov. He took advantage of a foray forward to relieve some of the pressure that the home team was building and fired in a shot from the blue line. It didn’t look all that dangerous until Corey Trivino deflected the puck past his own goalie to unwittingly open the scoring.
The second period was goalless, although Kevin Poulin had a busy time of it in the home net, but the third got underway with a flurry of goalmouth action. Ashton got his first of the game, converting a slick counter-attack. Barely a minute later, though, Barys got back in contention with a power play goal. Nigel Dawes combined with Brandon Bochenski behind the net, Dustin Boyd exploited open space in the slot to beat Mikhail Biryukov.
It wasn’t enough to save Barys. As the clock ran down, Ashton got his second of the game into the empty net. Torpedo’s happy new year seems set to continue for a while longer.
Yegor Ivanov has managed barely a handful of KHL games over the last two seasons, and his contribution has barely troubled the league’s statisticians. But deep into Sunday’s home game with Sochi the 21-year-old grabbed his first goal in the competition to snap a 1-1 tie and give Ugra the verdict over playoff-chasing Sochi.
It wasn’t a bad way to announce himself in the big league, collecting Vitaly Shulakov’s pass on his own blue line and advancing through center ice to evade the attentions of Alexei Pepelyayev and place a wrister onto the top shelf.
Ivanov’s strike came shortly after Ilya Krikunov tied the game, cancelling out Roman Lyuduchin’s 40th-minute opener. Pavel Varfolomeyev added an empty-net goal to seal Ugra’s win and leave Sochi in the thick of an arduous quest for a top-eight finish.
Playoff hopes were in the balance in the Urals, with Avto’s narrow victory keeping the home team in contention while Spartak’s slow start to the year threatens to put it out of the race in the West.
Despite leading twice, the Red-and-Whites ended up losing for the third time this year – and the fifth in six games – so the gap to eighth place remains a testing nine points. For Avtomobilist, inspired by two goals from Alexei Mikhnov, the margin in the East is six points.
The home team won this one in the second period, aided by a powerful offensive display that generated 20 shots on goal and allowed just three at the other end. That enabled Mikhnov to wipe out Maxim Potapov’s first-period opener for Spartak, and then saw Nikolai Timashov score on the power play to cancel out Denis Tolpeko’s effort.
Just 45 seconds later, Avto went ahead for the first time as Jan Buchtele scored in the 38th minute, and the home team never let its lead slip. Mikhnov’s second made it 4-2 early in the third and Vsevolod Sorokin’s swift reply could not put Spartak on the path to salvage the game.
Jeff Taffe scored twice, including a last-minute winner, as Slovan put a dent in Admiral’s hopes of making the playoffs.
The visitor was hoping to lift itself a little way clear of the logjam of teams bunching together in midtable in the Eastern Conference, but this defeat leaves it firmly stuck in the middle of the pack. Slovan, meanwhile, moves to within eight points of a playoff spot in the West, kindling outside hopes of sneaking into post-season.
Then Taffe got to work, tying the game in the 35th minute when he fired home a big rebound off a Jonathan Cheechoo shot, before snatching the winner with just 38 seconds remaining when he got the decisive touch on Kyle Chipchura’s effort from deep.