Dinamo Minsk was the latest team to confirm its playoff place thanks to a shoot-out win at Ugra, while Jokerit’s third win in a row moves it closer to joining the Belarusians and Vityaz picks up three valuable points in Croatia. In the East, Barys is just one point away from confirming its post-season after beating Dinamo Riga, while Avtomobilist’s defeat against Jokerit pushes it to the edge of missing out.
Kevin Dallman’s first-period goal – his ninth of the season – was sufficient to separate the teams as Dinamo struggled to pressure the home team.
Dallman delivered a trademark slap shot from the blue line to convert a power play in the 13th minute.
Henrik Karlsson faced just 17 shots for his seventh shut-out of the season as Barys moved on to 87 points, just one win short of securing its playoff place.
Home head coach Eduard Zankovets acknowledged that it wasn’t the greatest game of hockey. “We expected a hard game without many goals,” he said. “It’s often difficult to win a game like that, so we’re happy to come away with three points even if it wasn’t the prettiest hockey.”
The ageless Alexander Materukhin grabbed the shoot-out winner here to secure playoff hockey in Belarus after a lively game in Khanty-Mansiysk.
Dinamo was without head coach Craig Woodcroft, still serving a three-game ban, but his stand-in Ron Pasco helped his team recover from going behind early on to clinch the point it needed to secure a top-eight finish in the Western Conference. Then, come the shoot-out, Materukhin and Aaron Palushaj found the net, while Ben Scrivens made two saves to give his team the win.
Earlier, though, Ugra made the brighter start. Evgeny Lapenkov opened the scoring after 14 seconds, and that lead lasted until deep into the second period. A high-sticking call on Alexander Makarov gave Dinamo the opportunity; Rob Klinkhammer converted the chance within seconds to tie the game.
Dmitry Korobov gave the visitor the lead in the 46th minute, but a penalty on Klinkhammer saw Roman Lyuduchin make it 2-2 with seven minutes left to play. Overtime saw Ugra enjoy another power play, but without success, before Dinamo claimed the verdict.
Two teams chasing a playoff place met in the Urals – but it was the visitor that left with post-season in mind after all-but extinguishing Avto’s hopes of making the top eight.
Jokerit’s victory, built on a goal in each period, lifts the Finns to 91 points, six above ninth-placed HC Sochi as the Western Conference campaign comes to an end. Avtomobilist, meanwhile, is stalled on 74, eight points and three places adrift of Salavat Yulaev with just three games to play.
The visitor took an early lead thanks to Roope Talaja’s goal in the fourth minute, but hit a roadblock thrown up by compatriot Tommi Kivisto early in the second. The D-man scored his second goal of the season in the 25th minute to tie the game, threatening to reshape the playoff picture as he did so.
One Finn was not enough to deny the team from Helsinki, though. Ville Lajunen got his 10th of the season to ensure that Jokerit went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. Then, midway through the final stanza, Sakari Salminen scored on the power play to secure Jokerit’s success. Mika Niemi assisted on both those goals.
Vityaz wasted little time in putting its opponent under pressure. Miro Aaltonen opened the scoring in the sixth minute and, after killing a couple of penalties, the visitor doubled its advantage through Nikita Vyglazov in the 17th minute. All seemed to be going to plan for the playoff chasing team.
If the first period was a Vityaz success story, the second threatened to be quite the opposite. First, the visitor failed to capitalize on a long 5-on-3 power play after Alexandre Giroux, Derek Smith and then Mark Katic picked up minor penalties. Then, seconds after Medvescak got back to full strength, Giroux halved the deficit. Almost immediately the home team gained a 5-on-3 advantage of its own and after Vityaz killed the first of those penalties, Mike Glumac scored against four men to tie the game at 2-2. It wasn’t until the final seconds of the session that Vityaz got its power play sorted out and Alexei Makeyev made it 3-2.
That wasn’t the end of Vityaz’ problems – Ilya Arkalov tied the scores at the start of the third period – but Makeyev and Vyglazov both scored for the second time on the night to move the Moscow Region team one step closer to the playoffs.
Vityaz moves to 92 points, remaining in seventh place with a seven-point cushion over HC Sochi.