SKA made it 18 wins in a row, equalling the record set by Avangard in the 2010-11 season. The Omsk team was inspired by Jaromir Jagr that time; SKA’s free-scoring offense has four of the top five scorers this season, and the most prolific D-man for good measure.
In Wednesday’s other games, Lokomotiv unveiled new head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov and celebrated by snapping its five-game losing streak with a 2-0 success at Dynamo Moscow; Ak Bars stayed on top in the East after it ended Ugra’s mini-revival, and there were home wins for the three Far East teams.
Kunlun came from behind to defeat Lada, with Zach Yuen grabbing the game-winning goal.
That was the highlight of a strong second-period display from the host, but the early exchanges had favored Lada. The visitor made the brighter start and got in front on a 5-on-3 power play when Charles Genoway opened the scoring. However, Red Star responded immediately, tying the scores with a short-handed goal from Cory Kane. He held off a couple of challenges that looked to be borderline fouls before flipping a backhander over Krasotkin’s stick.
Admiral clawed back a two-goal deficit to defeat Traktor in overtime.
The early exchanges went well for the visitor, with former Admiral forward Richard Gynge opening the scoring in the third minute. It wasn’t long before Traktor was two up, thanks to Alexei Kruchinin’s short-handed goal midway through the session.
But the stats did not suggest that Admiral was too far off the pace in the game, and a lively second period saw Vladimir Butuzov get a goal back for the host. It took time for the equalizer to arrive, but when Robert Sabolic burst into the Traktor zone in the 57thminute, he created the chance for Dmitry Sayustov to tie the game.
Into overtime, and the Sailors needed just 65 seconds to settle the issue. Jonathan Blum fed Vladimir Tkachyov and the young forward converted the chance for his fourth goal of the season.
Czech defenseman Michal Jordan got his first goal for Amur to hand the Tigers an overtime victory.
It was Ilya Kovalchuk’s turn to dominate as SKA thumped Salavat Yulaev 6-1 and equalled the KHL record for consecutive victories.
On Monday, the defending champion won by the same margin at Lokomotiv with Nikita Gusev scoring four; here Kovalchuk had three goals while Gusev added a goal and two assists. It all added up to a 15th win in regulation this season (the other three games have yielded one overtime and two shoot-out victories). SKA is also way out in front for scoring: today’s six took the team’s tally to 85 for the season; only Avangard, Salavat Yulaev, Ak Bars and Barys have potted more than 50. Defensively, too, SKA reigns supreme. True, Jokerit has conceded one goal fewer – 22 against 23 – but the Finns have played 14 games to SKA’s 18, tipping the goals allowed average back into the Army Men’s favor.
Wednesday’s win was effectively sealed inside 14 minutes. Two power plays gave SKA the early initiative, with Patrik Hersley converting the first of them before Kovalchuk opened his account for the evening. Alexander Barabanov made it 3-0 on 13:17, and the situation already looked hopeless for Salavat Yulaev.
Gusev added a fourth in the 27th minute, before Kovi got another power play goal to make it 5-0. This one was an unusually simple affair: Igor Shestyorkin collected an aimless clearance and returned the puck to Kovalchuk in center ice. From there, the path opened up for the forward to come to the net and shoot unimpeded past Ben Scrivens.
The home team finally got the puck in the net a couple of minutes later, but the effort was ruled out for goalie interference. It wasn’t until the third period when Teemu Hartikainen ended Shestyorkin’s hopes of a shut-out. Even so, Kovalchuk was destined to have the final word. Grigory Panin was ejected from the game for kneeing and, from the ensuing face-off, Pavel Datsyuk won the puck, Kovalchuk collected it in space between the circles and smashed home his hat-trick goal.
After appointing Anatoly Yemelin as head coach, Ugra enjoyed a brief upswing in form with two successive overtime victories. However, Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars ensured there would be no continuation of that winning run, producing a clinical performance to stay out in front in its section.
Justin Azevedo got things started in the fourth minute as the home team piled up the pressure on Ugra from the start. Ilya Proskuryakov was the visitor’s busiest player as he battled to keep the scoreline respectable in a first period dominated by Ak Bars.
The middle session was almost the complete reverse, with Ugra giving Emil Garipov a serious work-out in the home net. But one key detail was the same as the first period: the only goal went to Ak Bars, scored by Stanislav Galiyev. Evgeny Skachkov pulled a goal back for Ugra early in the third, but Jiri Sekac quickly restored Ak Bars’ two-goal cushion.
Neftekhimik snapped a three-game losing streak in thrilling style with a humdinger of a win over Avangard.
The teams traded nine goals in a lively spectacle in Nizhnekamsk, but Robin Hanzl’s power play strike in the 36th minute was enough to give the home team the verdict. Earlier, Hanzl’s compatriot Andrej Nestrasil kicked off the goal rush in the second minute; Ildar Shiksatdarov doubled the lead soon after, but Dmitry Kugryshev kept Avangard in contention at the first intermission.
The middle session saw five goals, culminating in Hanzl’s effort to make it 5-3 at the 40-minute mark. Emil Galimov also missed a penalty shot for the home team. Avangard got one goal back in the third thanks to captain Evgeny Medvedev, but could not force overtime.
Lokomotiv announced the appointment of a new head coach on the morning of this game, and Dmitry Kvartalnov celebrated his latest role with victory.
A five-game losing streak had spelled the end for Alexei Kudashov behind the bench in Yaroslavl. The former Atlant coach enjoyed a reputation as an emerging coaching talent, but a sluggish start to his third season with Loko persuaded the club to pull the plug on his tenure.
Kvartalnov, released by CSKA at the end of last season after Lokomotiv dumped the Army Men out of the playoffs, saw his new charges defeat Dynamo thanks to goals from Vladislav Kartayev and Staffan Kronwall. That was backed up with 20 saves from Alexander Sudnitsin to deny the Muscovites. Loko looks forward with confidence, Dynamo ponders its third loss in a row.
Alexander Bergstrom produced a game-winning performance for Sibir, grabbing his fourth and fifth goals of the season to secure an overtime success beside the Black Sea.
In regulation, Eric O’Dell scored twice for Sochi, opening the scoring early on and tying the game at 2-2 in the 31st minute after Ivan Vereshchagin and Vyacheslav Osnovin put Sibir ahead early in the second. But Sibir regained the lead for a second time through Bergstrom before Sergei Shmelyov took it into overtime.
A last-minute equalizer from Nigel Dawes salvaged a point for Barys at Dinamo Minsk – but he couldn’t save his team from defeat in the shoot-out.
Quinton Howden’s power play goal put Dinamo in front late in the second period, and it looked like the Belarusians had done enough to win it in regulation until Dawes popped up with 51 seconds to capitalize on a passage of 6-on-4 play. Following that tying goal, Barys netminder Henrik Karlsson made six saves in overtime but could not maintain that form in the shoot-out.