On a day when all four home teams were victorious, there was extra cause to celebrate for Eric O’Dell, Simon Onerud and Andrej Nestrasil. The three imports all bagged their first goals of the campaign – in O’Dell’s case, a hat-trick – to secure wins for their teams. O’Dell and Onerud were on the mark in Sochi’s demolition of Dinamo Riga, while Nestrasil got Neftekhimik’s game-winner against Spartak.
Elsewhere, Linus Omark was one again Salavat Yulaev’s difference maker in a tight victory over Torpedo, while Ak Bars needed overtime to get past Severstal.
For the second game running, Linus Omark was Salavat Yulaev’s game-winner after he inspired a late turnaround at home to Torpedo.
Omark had already assisted on Joonas Kemppainen’s tying goal in the 55th minute, supplying the feed from behind the net, when he popped up to poach the winner on 56:49. Torpedo’s defense got in a tangle trying to hold the puck and Omark pounced on a stray pass from Denis Barantsev to nip in and beat Ivan Lisutin.
Earlier, the visitor looked to be on course for a fourth successive victory, holding the lead from the seventh minute after Yury Sergiyenko opened the scoring.
Fot the second game running, Ak Bars was taken to overtime. But unlike Tuesday’s surprise loss at home to Spartak, this time the Kazan team claimed victory against a stubborn Severstal.
Andrei Markov put Ak Bars ahead in the 36th minute, but the veteran defenseman did not know too much about it. He was looking for a diagonal pass across the front of the Severstal net, and got a lucky bounce off the skate of Adam Masuhr to deceive Julius Hudacek and open the scoring.
That’s the kind of luck that has been plaguing Severstal this season: the team has rarely been outclassed, but is finding it hard to turn respectable performances into victories. But, early in the third period, the bounce went the Steelmen’s way. A scrappy face-off in the visitor’s zone broke down with Dmitry Kagarlitsky motoring up the ice. As the home defense forced him behind the goalline, Severstal’s captain looked for a pass to Alexander Bumagin on the slot. The pass never reached its target, pinballing off the goalie’s pads and a defenseman’s skates before sneaking across the line to tie the scores.
Nestrasil, a 26-year-old Czech forward, potted his first since coming to the KHL in the summer, separating these two teams with his 45th-minute strike. He rifled home a one-timer from the face off spot after Emil Galimov’s feed from behind the net.
That completed the home team’s recovery after Igor Mirnov gave Spartak a first-period lead. The visitor was looking for a second victory in Tatarstan after surprising Ak Bars in overtime, and held the advantage until the midway mark. Then Oleg Piganovich struck on the power play to level the scores.
When Sochi lost at Severstal last time out, Eric O’Dell’s return to fitness was largely overlooked. Today, the Canadian forward ensured that everyone was well aware of his return to scoring form.
The 27-year-old tallied three times, opening his account for the season in the first period and adding two more in the third. That enabled his team to snap a two-game losing run and pile on the misery for Dinamo, which has now failed in its last seven outings.
O’Dell wasn’t the only player celebrating what – hopefully – will be the start of something big. Swedish forward Simon Onerud potted his first goal for Sochi. Onerud, 29, arrived from HV71 in the summer, but faced a tough introduction to life in the KHL. His debut ended in a 3-11 loss against Salavat Yulaev, and the power forward struggled to impose himself in Sochi. Today, though, he opened his account with the 3-1 goal, a clinical finish off Casey Wellman’s feed.
For Sandis Ozolins and Dinamo, life doesn’t get any easier. The Latvians made a perfect start here, snatching the lead in the second minute through Uvis Balinskis. But O’Dell tied it up in the 11th minute and Sochi D-man Vadim Khomitsky got his first for the club to open a lead in the 28th minute.