Nikita Gusev and Ilya Shestyorkin bossed the shoot-out to give SKA victory in Moscow, but only after CSKA had a potential game-winner disallowed in overtime. Elsewhere, Dynamo made it four wins in a row, Lada survived a Jokerit fightback to win in a shoot-out and Lokomotiv dispatched Dinamo Riga.
Two late goals – one shorthanded, the other into an empty net – saw Dynamo down a spirited Kunlun after trailing twice in the game.
Ilya Nikulin grabbed the game-winner in the 59th minute and Denis Kokarev fired into the empty net to seal the Blue-and-Whites’ fourth successive win in 2017 and give goalie Alexander Yeryomenko a victory to mark his 300th game for the club.
Yeryomenko, one of the star players in Dynamo’s recent upswing in form, didn’t have it all his own way though. He was beaten in the sixth minute by Tuukka Mantyla after Zach Yuen did well to come away with the puck behind the net. The visitor replied quickly, Kokarev on the breakaway feeding Gorovikov for the equalizer.
The pattern repeated in the second period, with less than a minute between Martin Bakos’ first goal of the game and Artyom Fyodorov’s leveler. But Dynamo changed the script in the third, going ahead for the first time thanks to Vladimir Bryukvin and securing the victory late on after Bakos got his second of the night to tie the game in the 56th minute.
SKA returned to the top of the KHL table after claiming the honors in a breathtaking Army derby in the capital.
It took a shoot-out to separate the top two in a game that pulsated with excitement from start to finish, and SKA claimed its third victory in four meetings between the clubs: but only after surviving a mighty scare in overtime.
The moment of controversy came in the 62nd minute when Igor Ozhiganov fired in a shot that Igor Shestyorkin couldn’t handle and saw the puck dribble slowly into the net. The home celebrations were delirious, but sadly premature. From the away bench, a challenge came in; the video officials checked it out and confirmed that the play began with an offside. No goal, 2-2, an on to a shoot-out.
Both goalies were in the thick of the action at the start of the game as well, pulling off smart saves in the opening exchanges before Anton Belov gave SKA a sixth-minute lead on the first power play of the night.
Near misses followed, both teams pinging the puck off post and bar, before a visionary pass from Vadim Shipachyov set Gusev free to make it 2-1 in the 40th minute. Maxim Mamin cancelled out that goal early in the third period – the only goal scored with both teams at full strength – to set up the dramatic denouement of the day’s events.
Lokomotiv denied Dynamo Moscow the chance of climbing to fourth place despite trailing at the first intermission against the Latvians.
Loko responded by dominating the play, but could not force a goal until Staffan Kronwall ended Janis Kalnins’ resistance late in the second period. A Dmitry Lugin power play goal made it 3-2 in the 45th minute and Brandon Kozun added a third late on with a fine solo effort. Kalnins, a 25-year-old Latvian goalie gaining his first experience in the KHL this season, faced 47 shots on the night and acquitted himself well in the face of such an onslaught, even though he could not save his team from defeat.
It took 18 penalty shots – 17 of them unsuccessful – to finally separate the teams in Finland after a topsy-turvy game between Jokerit and Lada.
The home team, looking to strengthen its grip on a playoff spot, took an early lead through Marko Antilla, only to find itself 1-3 behind after 26 minutes. Semyon Valuisky and Vasily Streltsov scored two goals in 26 seconds to turn the game around in the first period; Taylor Aronson extended the advantage in the middle session.
But Jokerit fought back, tying the game thanks to efforts from Brian O’Neill and Tommi Huhtala, with Jesper Jensen assisting on both. Neither team could find a winner in the remaining 15 minutes, nor in overtime, and for a long time Riku Helenius and Ilya Ezhov bossed the shoot-out. Georgy Belousov scored for Lada with the 17th attempt, before Joey Hishon fired wide of Ezhov’s net to give the Motormen the bonus point.
Few game the Croatian club much hope of reaching the top eight as 2016 drew to a close: Medvescak seemed stuck among the also-rans in the lower reaches of the Western Conference.
But in Zagreb, they kept the faith … and today’s victory made it five wins in six to lift the team to within seven points of the top eight.
True, with just 12 games left to play, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but Gordie Dwyer’s team has shown great resilience to give itself a fighting chance and goes into the closing stages with some momentum behind it.
Today’s win was secured by Francis Pare’s 52nd-minute goal, snapping a 1-1 tie. Earlier Goran Bezina gave the home team a second-period lead only for Evgeny Mons to tie it up just after the half-hour.