It was a day of close-fought games in the KHL. In Ufa, Salavat Yulaev edged a 5-4 verdict over Spartak in a game with musical overtones. In Helsinki, Jokerit held on to beat Dinamo Riga by the odd goal in five despite jumping into a 3-0 lead early in the game. Sochi also won by a solitary goal, thanks to a shut-out from Konstantin Barulin. Neftekhimik was the most comfortable winner of the day, claiming a 4-2 success on a strong middle stanza against Severstal.
Renowned musician Leonid Spivakov was guest of honor at Saturday’s game in Ufa and the great conductor enjoyed a big score as Salavat Yulaev edged victory by the odd goal in five.
Early on, it seemed that the home team would waltz to victory after three goals in the first nine minutes. Igor Makarov, Denis Kulyash and Teemu Hartikainen’s power play strike had the Ufa crowd singing the praises of its team.
But Spartak was eager to strike a discordant note, and battled back into contention with a short-handed goal from Anatoly Nikontsev and a power play marker from Igor Mirnov. 3-2 early in the second period, and the day’s drama was just beginning.
The in-form Linus Omark made it 4-2, but Spartak wasn’t done: Artyom Voronin made it a one goal game early in the third and the pressure was on the host. Danish defenseman Philip Larsen reinstated the two-goal cushion, but there was still time for Nikontsev’s second to make for an anxious finale.
A powerful second period performance saw Neftekhimik overcome Severstal in Tatarstan.
The host got off to a great start when Emil Galimov found the net after 62 seconds, but Severstal recovered to lead 2-1 at the first intermission on goals from Vitaly Vishnevsky – his first since returning to the game – and Pavel Chernov.
That lead lasted until the midway point, when Oleg Piganovich tied the scores. Within a minute, Neftekhimik was in front thanks to Alexander Avtsin. And the ever-dangerous combination of Robin Hanzl and Dan Sexton clicked once again to enable Andrei Sergeyev to make it 4-2 with a power play goal after 37 minutes.
One of the most memorable fightbacks in KHL history saw Dinamo Riga force overtime in Helsinki despite trailing by five goals. Today the Latvians could not match that achievement from November 2015, but the visitor still gave Jokerit a scare late in this game.
At first it seemed so easy for the host: Pekka Jormakka and Mika Niemi scored in the first period, Niklas Jensen made it 3-0 on the power play early in the second, and Dinamo was struggling to get a look at Ryan Zapolski’s net.
But in the final stanza, Dinamo threatened a sting in the tail. Georgijs Pujacs pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute, Jokerit killed a penalty only to concede seconds later when Danny Kristo made it 2-3. There were still over four minutes to play in the Finns’ home opener, and nerves were jangling around the Hartwall Arena until the hooter sounded to end Riga’s hopes.
Konstantin Barulin’s start to the season hasn’t gone as smoothly as the veteran Russian international would have hoped. He’s faced stiff competition from Dmitry Shikin for his place as the #1 at Sochi.
Today, though, he had the kind of game that has made him one of the most successful netminders in the game, blanking Torpedo to earn his team a 1-0 victory.