Ilya Kovalchuk won a scoring duel with Avangard’s Vladimir Sobotka to keep the Army Men on top of the table. CSKA beat Metallurg Novokuznetsk despite some stellar goaltending from young Vladislav Podyapolsky, and HC Sochi surprised Magnitka to return to the playoff zone.
HC Sochi picked up a valuable and unexpected win in its push for a playoff spot, downing defending champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk to move back into eighth place in the West.
The Black Sea team had to recover from a slow start, going behind to a Jan Kovar power play goal in the third minute, but responded strongly in the second period.
Magnitka remained dangerous, though, and Sergei Mozyakin reduced the arrears on the power play, but there was to be no fightback here. Igor Ignatushkin and Chris Lee traded goals before Sergei Kuznetsov rounded off the scoring with an empty-net goal.
SKA’s power play – with Ilya Kovalchuk to the fore – made all the difference as the league leader won its third straight game to remain one point clear of CSKA.
The Army Men’s first three goals all came while the visitor had a man in the penalty box, leaving Omsk head coach Fyodor Kanareikin to praise the skills of SKA’s special teams.
Kovy and Pavel Datsyuk combined to set up the opening goal for Sergei Plotnikov in the fourth minute, and even though Vladimir Sobotka tied the game soon afterwards, SKA was in no mood to ease off. Vadim Shipachyov made it 2-1 with another power play effort – Kovalchuk again in a supporting role – before the second period saw Kovy make it 3-1 as another Avangard penalty was punished.
When Viktor Tikhonov made it 4-1 shortly after, it seemed that the game was done, but Avangard, and especially Sobotka, had other ideas. The Czech international had a helper as Nikolai Lemtyugov pulled a goal back then scored his second of the night to make it 4-3 going into the third.
That was as good as it got for Avangard, as Maxim Chudinov eased any anxieties for the home fans with his team’s fifth goal midway through the final stanza.
CSKA had little difficulty dispatching lowly Metallurg with a commanding performance in Moscow.
The home team rattled in 51 shots on Vladislav Podyapolsky’s net as Metallurg struggled to make an impact on the game.
But the visiting goalie, just 21 years old and still seeking his first victory of the season, performed heroics to keep the scoreline down, even after giving up a fifth-minute goal to Grigory Panin. Podyapolsky’s form ensured that the game remained live – at least theoretically – until deep into the third period. CSKA, resting several key players including imports Geoff Platt and Greg Scott, and captain Denis Denisov, kept getting pucks to the net without forcing them over the line.
Ultimately, though, Andrei Kuzmenko settled it with a 59th-minute goal, while at the other end Viktor Fasth completed 23 saves for the shut-out. But while the Swede claimed the victory, his young Russian rival took most of the plaudits.
Sibir missed the chance to break into the playoff places, losing 4-3 at Severstal. Goals from Alexei Ugarov and Dmitry Kagarlitsky either side of the second intermission snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Steelmen a decisive advantage. Konstantin Okulov reduced the deficit with 10 minutes to play, but the visitor could not salvage the game. To add to Sibir’s woes, goalie Danny Taylor picked up an injury while sitting on the bench. An unlucky deflection sent the puck into his head, leaving him with suspected concussion.
Barys strengthened its playoff prospects with a late win in Zagreb after two goals apiece for Brandon Bochenski and Nigel Dawes set up a 5-4 victory. Bochenski’s pair gave Barys a 2-1 advantage in the second period, but the outcome was never beyond doubt as goals from Kirill Voronin and Jiri Smejkal clawed back Dawes’ duo in the third. Brendan Shinnimin’s 59th-minute strike – his first for the club – proved decisive, despite Goran Bezina’s last-gasp reply for the home team.
Slovan clawed back an 0-2 deficit to beat Avtomobilist in overtime in a clash of two teams trying to keep their outside hopes of a playoff spot alive. Anatoly Golyshev and Artyom Gareyev put Avto in charge after 40 minutes, but Pavol Skalicky and Kyle Chipchura tied it up. Chipchura’s equalizer came with just 37 seconds left. Jeff Taffe got the overtime winner.