Slovak international Julius Hudacek is well-known for his crowd-pleasing post-game routines, but today he produced a real show during regulation time to blank Salavat Yulaev’s potent offense. Severstal won 2-0 at the Eastern Conference leader, snapping Linus Omark’s eight-game point-scoring run.
In Kazan, there was no respite for Dinamo Riga. The Latvians lost heavily to Ak Bars and have now suffered nine defeats in a row.
Last week saw Salavat Yulaev storm from eighth to first in the Eastern Conference; this week began with a surprise loss at home to Severstal.
But this was more than a backs-to-the-wall defensive display: Severstal outshot the host in all three periods on its way to a thoroughly deserved success. Alexander Bumagin got the opening goal in the 27th minute, ghosting in at the far post to convert a lightning counter-attack after a home raid broke down in front of Hudacek. Then Daniil Vovchenko added an empty-net goal in the last second to seal the deal for the Steelmen.
It didn’t take long for the home team to seize the initiative. Ak Bars scored twice in the sixth minute, with Sekac getting the opener and Roman Abrosimov adding another 19 seconds later. The 23-year-old defenseman had scored once before in the KHL, back in 2015-16, but this was his first marker in more than 50 outings for Tatarstan’s favorite team. Danny Kristo scored for the second game running to get one back for the visitor and it was 2-1 at the end of the first period.
The middle stanza echoed the first. Ak Bars scored two quick goals, one from Sekac, one from a youngster. The Czech found the net for the second time in the 28th minute, Nikita Yazkov made it 4-1 in the 29th. Yazkov, a 21-year-old prospect from Metallurg Novokuznetsk, opened his account for his new club off a Fyodor Malykhin assist. Again, Dinamo got one back as Vitalijs Pavlovs scored, but Ak Bars added a fifth late on when Sekac assisted on Justin Azevedo’s 40th-minute goal.
Artyom Lukoyanov added a sixth for the home team in the 54th minute, and the final minute of play brought more misery for the Latvians. First, Gunars Skvorcovs was ejected from the game for leaving the bench to contest a penalty call, then Sekac took advantage of the power play to complete his treble.