Salavat Yulaev won the big game of the day, edging past Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-3. Vyacheslav Solodukhin got the winner just 25 seconds after Magnitka tied the scores at 3-3; last season’s runner-up has now suffered four defeats in a row. Ak Bars won 3-1 at Lada to maintain a three-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference, and there were victories for HC Sochi and Neftekhimik as all four games went to the visiting team.
Sochi posted a fourth successive win after blanking Avtomobilist in Yekaterinburg.
Konstantin Barulin made 30 saves for the Black Sea team, recording his second shut-out in that winning sequence, as Avto suffered an uncomfortable homecoming following victories at Dinamo Minsk and Dynamo Moscow.
Yury Alexandrov got the opening goal in the 36th minute, shooting the puck home off the prone Jakub Kovar as the puck flew around the home net. Ilya Khokhlov added an empty net goal to kill off Avtomobilist’s hopes.
Neftekhimik enjoyed its second shut-out in a row, with Ilya Ezhov making 29 saves to frustrate Traktor.
The visitor took a firm grip on the game in the first 10 minutes, going 2-0 ahead thanks to goals from Alexander Bryntsev and Chad Rau. For Bryntsev, 22, it was his first goal in the KHL: previously he got two in the Nadezhda Cup in 2014.
Those two markers were separated by a mere 13 seconds, but the scoreboard was not troubled again until the last minute of play. Bogdan Yakimov scored an empty-net goal to complete a solid win for Neftekhimik.
This was a game of sudden momentum swings – and none was more abrupt than the one we witnessed in the 51st minute. Metallurg had just completed its recovery from 0-3 to 3-3 and, for many in the building, seemed poised to go on and win this Eastern Conference showdown.
Salavat Yulaev, though, had other ideas. Just 25 seconds after Tomas Filippi drew the host level, Vyacheslav Solodukhin put the visitor up 4-3. Maybe it was the excitement of turning the game around, maybe it was fatigue after a hard-fought battle, but the home defense went AWOL in alarming fashion, leaving Joonas Kemppainen to pick out Solodukhin all alone in front of Vasily Koshechkin’s net. The finish was decisive, the game was won.
Earlier, Salavat Yulaev took control from the start. Zakhar Arzamastsev opened the scoring in the fifth minute and Evgeny Bodrov doubled the lead in the 14th. When Philip Larsen made it 3-0 on the power play at the start of the second, smashing home Linus Omark’s pass back to the blue line, Metallurg was in danger of being embarrassed on the day that Sergei Mozyakin made his 500th KHL appearance.
Mozyakin remained muted, well-marshalled by the visiting defense, but the home team fought back regardless. Nikita Pivtsakin and Sergei Tereshchenko scored in quick succession just after the midway point, and Filippi pounced on the rebound from Evgeny Biryukov’s shot to tie the game. This time, though, there was no comeback to celebrate: Solodukhin settled the outcome at the other end.
Lada’s miserable form continues as the Motormen suffered their ninth consecutive loss. This game against Ak Bars was a frustrating evening for fans in Tolyatti. First, they saw the visitor kill 12 penalty minutes in the first 26 minutes of action. Then Ak Bars took the lead following an error by defenseman Dmitry Kostromitin. He gave up the puck too easily in the corner, Rob Klinkhammer fed Stanislav Galiyev for a straightforward chance in front of the exposed home net.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0. Stepan Zakharchuk’s shot from the blue line drew Alexander Lazushin a long way from his crease, but his save presented the puck to Vladimir Tkachyov. The forward wasted no time in tucking it away, compounding Lada’s frustrations and pushing the game out of reach.
After spurning so many power play chances early in the game, there was some irony when Lada finally beat Emil Garipov with a short-handed goal. Stanislav Bocharov delivered in the 54th minute, but all hopes of a revival were extinguished when Justin Azevedo made it 3-1 with just under five minutes to play. The win ensures that Ak Bars remains three points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference, ahead of Salavat Yulaev and Neftekhimik.