East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
Neftekhimik runs riot to score eight on Ak Bars in the fourth Tatarstan derby of the season. Elsewhere, Sibir keeps its playoff hopes alive with a narrow win over Kunlun Red Star, Admiral misses out after a late goal in Novokuznetsk and Dynamo Moscow becomes the latest team to secure a playoff spot after Medvescak failed to give head coach Gordie Dwyer a winning farewell.
Defeat for Sibir in this game would have left it 10 points adrift of Kunlun and facing a huge task to make up ground on its playoff rival. Instead, another fine goaltending display from Danny Taylor – who has now allowed just two goals in four games – backstopped the Siberians to a vital victory.
Taylor finished with 27 saves – the best of them to deny Linus Videll early in the second period – as his team edged a priceless three points courtesy of Stepan Sannikov’s power play goal in the 29th minute. Maxim Shalunov’s rush created the opening, Joonas Kemppainen’s shot was saved by Tomi Karhunen’s outstretched leg and Sannikov squeezed the rebound inside the post to break the deadlock.
Kunlun, which was hoping to all but wrap up a playoff place in its debut season, tried to pressure Sibir but lost momentum after a brawl in the closing stages saw the penalty box fill up while the home net remained empty.
Admiral dropped valuable points in its playoff push after giving up an equalizer six seconds from the end of this game.
Ivan Yemets got the vital goal for bottom-of-the-table Kuznya, potting his second of the season to make it 2-2. The 19-year-old was assisted by Ignat Zemchenko, who finished the game with two helpers and went on to claim the decider in the shoot-out.
Earlier, Admiral led twice. Dmitry Sayustov got the opening goal on a seventh-minute power play and Denis Alexeyev, another 19-year-old, got his first career KHL goal to make it 2-1 in the 34th minute. In between, Evgeny Solovyov found the net for Metallurg.
After a generally disappointing season for Amur, the final stages have seen an upswing in form, albeit too late to make the playoffs. By contrast, Avangard is limping towards the playoffs after a fourth straight loss.
Maxim Kondratyev led Amur to victory here with two goals, while the Ushenin twins – Vladislav and Vyacheslav – made a big contribution with a goal and four assists between them. Kondratyev got the second and third goals, adding to Oleg Li’s early opener as Amur took control in the first period then making it 3-0 in the 45th minute with both Ushenins assisting.
Belatedly, Avangard came to life, cheered on by suspended forward Nikolai Lemtyugov, who joined the club’s fans for the evening. Erik Gustafsson and Anton Burdasov made it 2-3 with three minutes left, but Vladislav Ushenin found the empty net off a Vyacheslav assist to settle the outcome for the visitor.
The Tatarstan derby is usually an eye-catching game, but few scorelines from this fixture have been quite as striking as today’s.
Neftekhimik, traditionally the junior partner in the hockey-mad republic, picked this occasion to remind its powerful neighbor that Tatar hockey means more than just the double Gagarin Cup winner and, in doing so, served notice that it hasn’t yet abandoned hope of a playoff spot.
Oddly, the game was tied at 2-2 early in the second period as the teams traded goals in quick succession. A lively opening saw Richard Gynge give Neftekhimik the lead with his 21st goal of the season, only for Andrei Chibisov to level the scores 107 seconds later. The first two minutes of the second period followed a similar pattern, with Geoffrey Kinrade and Fyodor Malykhin getting the goals.
Then it all went crazy. Andrei Sergeyev and Pavel Poryadin made it 4-2 for Neftekhimik and visiting goalie Emil Garipov was benched after allowing three goals from 11 shots. Then Ak Bars ran into penalty trouble. Sergeyev converted a 5-on-3 advantage and Andrei Pervyshin added a sixth goal within a minute. Then another penalty gave Dan Sexton the chance to add a goal to his four assists. The second hooter sounded with the scoreboard reading 7-2.
The final stanza was quiet, with just a Maxim Berezin goal to complete the scoring, condemning Ak Bars to its worst ever defensive display in the KHL. Meanwhile, the victory – and the manner of it – could yet save Neftekhimik’s season. Five points adrift of a playoff place with four games to play looks like an almost impossible task. However, firing eight goals past Ak Bars also seemed deeply implausible this morning.
Gordie Dwyer’s last game behind the bench in Zagreb ended in a defeat that extinguished Medvescak’s theoretical chance of reaching the playoffs.
Dwyer, who is heading to a new job in Switzerland, announced his departure prior to Tuesday’s game but his team could not give him a successful send-off.
Instead, it lost out to a Dynamo team that confirmed its own playoff spot after a fast start to the game. Alexei Tereshchenko and Maxim Karpov scored in the first four minutes to put the Blue-and-Whites 2-0 up and not even a quick response from Alexandre Giroux could change Medvescak’s fate here.
Ilya Nikulin added a third in the middle stanza before Vladimir Bryukvin made it 4-1. Medvescak tried to rally, with Mark Katic reducing the deficit, but Dynamo was always in control. Semyon Kokuyov made it 5-2 with his first goal since October 12 and the final minutes saw Lukas Lessio and Lukas Kaspar trade goals.
For playoff chasing Slovan, every point is vital. So, claiming a shoot-out victory and moving to within two points of the top eight gives Milos Riha’s team a boost, but giving up a 2-0 lead in the last 10 minutes inevitably prompts thoughts of what might have been.
Brandon Kozun was Slovan’s tormentor. He halved the deficit with a power play goal in the 54th minute before tying the game two minutes later. The expectation of overtaking HC Sochi and moving up to ninth place was abruptly replaced with fear of coming away with nothing and remaining adrift in 10th as the end of the season drew ever closer.
Into the shootout, and goalie Barry Brust finally found an answer to Kozun, denying his attempt. Igor Musatov and Ziga Jeglic found the net for Slovan to secure the victory. That also ensured that Jonathan Cheechoo finished on the winning team. He assisted on Michal Hlinka’s opener in the first period before scoring the 2-0 goal on a power play in the second.