Last season’s Gagarin Cup finalists had contrasting afternoons. Metallurg looked in total control at Dinamo Minsk, but let a 3-0 lead slip in the third period and lost 5-3 to two last-minute goals. SKA, meanwhile, romped to its 12th successive victory of the season, beating Traktor 5-0.
Sibir won at Barys for the second time in three days, but Ugra improved in its second meeting with Avangard: after losing 0-7 at home in midweek, the Khanty-Mansiysk team went down in overtime on the road. Avtomobilist stole a 1-0 verdict at Dynamo, Vityaz rallied late to win in overtime at Admiral and Lokomotiv inflicted an eighth successive defeat on Lada.
Vityaz did it the hard way to claim victory in Vladivostok, coming from behind twice behind taking the verdict in overtime.
Admiral, fresh from defeating CSKA last time out, wasted little time in asserting itself in the first period. Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev scored in the first minute and Viktor Alexandrov doubled the lead on a power play with the game less than eight minutes old.
In the third period, the teams provided a condensed version of what had gone before. Admiral quickly moved ahead through Daniil Kurashov, Vityaz battled away and finally forced the tie on Vojtech Mozik’s goal with 90 seconds left.
Then came overtime, and Niclas Burstrom potted the winner to claim his first KHL goal since arriving from Sweden.
On Tuesday Avangard powered to a 7-0 win at Ugra; on Sunday the same two teams went to overtime before the Omsk outfit took the points.
This time, though, Ugra was in no mood to subside to another heavy loss. Andrei Ankudinov halved the deficit early in the second period and the two sides traded opportunities for the rest of the game. The visitor tied it up late when Konstantin Mayorov struck on 57:53, ensuring a point against the team that humbled it on home ice just days before.
But Avangard would not be denied a second victory over Ugra: the host dominated the extras and Kirill Semyonov wrapped up the win after 95 seconds.
Until Friday, Barys was the form team of the Eastern Conference. Now, after two defeats in three days at home to Sibir, the Kazakhs have something to think about.
In Friday’s 3-1 victory, Sibir stifled Nigel Dawes’ scoring form; today it went one better, blanking the whole Barys offense thanks to 26 saves from Alexei Krasikov. The 21-year-old came in for his first appearance of the season and produced an impressive performance to blunt a dangerous home team.
At the other end, Jonas Enlund and Ivan Vereshchagin gave Sibir a 2-0 lead in the first period. Vladislav Naumov added a third in the 27th minute, chasing Sergei Kudryavtsev from the home net, and Vyacheslav Osnovin finished the job with an empty-net effort. For Barys, the good news is that Sibir won’t be visiting again this season unless the teams are paired in the playoffs.
Jakub Kovar was the hero of a smash-and-grab raid in Moscow, blanking Dynamo as Avtomobilist stole away with the points.
The visitor managed just 11 shots on Dynamo’s net in this game, but a power play in the 34th minute saw Ilya Krikunov and Anatoly Golyshev combine to present Alexander Kucheryavenko with the chance his team needed.
That was the only goal of the game. Kovar stopped 20 shots at the other end as the Blue-and-Whites slipped to a fifth loss in six outings.
Finales don’t come much more dramatic than the one we saw in Minsk this evening, with mighty Metallurg stripped of a three-goal lead during the third period and dumped into a defeat in the last minute.
Evgeny Lisovets, a 21-year-old defenseman and product of the local youth set-up, delivered the killer blow with 45 seconds left to play. Metallurg had just killed a penalty when Marc-Andre Gragnani saw his shot blocked and Lisovets smashed home the rebound. Magnitka tried to regroup, but was sunk when Alexander Pavlovich put his second goal of the night into the empty net. Gragnani collected his third assist; Minsk rejoiced.
Earlier, it had seemed set for a routine victory for the visitor. An early power play saw Sergei Mozyakin set up Jan Kovar for the opening goal, the second period brought a marker for Matt Ellison on his return to Belarus before Oskar Osala converted another power play.
But it all turned around in the third. Alexander Kitarov gave the home team hope, Pavlovich’s first gave it belief. Kitarov tied the scores in the 53rd minute, setting the stage for that finale.
Right now, it’s hard to see a way to stop SKA. Oleg Znarok’s team is disproving the idea that defending a championship is even harder than winning one, and another comfortable victory this afternoon makes it 12 without loss for the Army Men.
Ilya Kovalchuk moved level with Nigel Dawes in the KHL scoring charts when he got his 12th of the season on the power play in the 14th minute. By the close of play, though, he’d been overtaken by Pavel Datsyuk (two assists for a total of 17 points) and Nikita Gusev (three assists for 18).
The outcome was decided in the second period. Three goals in less than three-and-a-half minutes took the game away from Traktor. Evgeny Ketov, Nikolai Prokhorkin and Viktor Tikhonov; that high-scoring Kovalchuk-Datsyuk-Gusev combination contributed just one point to the blitz. This is a team that oozes menaces from every angle.
Datsyuk and Gusev combined once again for another power play goal, with Patrik Hersley the beneficiary in the 48th minute. Traktor, forced to deal with 54 shots on Pavel Francouz’ net, was relieved to hear the hooter.
Lada’s struggles continue with an eighth successive loss. Lokomotiv never really hit its best game in this meeting, but did enough to earn all three points against an opponent that seems destined for a battle in the lower half of the Eastern Conference table.
A scoreless opening stanza was shaded by the home team and Loko got its reward early in the second when Denis Mosalyov’s shot rebounded for Alexander Kadeikin to open the scoring. Vladislav Kartayev made it 2-0 with a venomous wrister just after the midway point, but Semyon Valuisky got Lada back in contention with a power play goal a minute later.