Ak Bars inflicted only the second defeat of the season on SKA, claiming an overtime verdict thanks to Vladimir Tkachyov’s two-goal show. Lokomotiv and Severstal served up a 10-goal thriller beside the Volga, with … getting the nod on penalties. Elsewhere, Ryan Zapolski’s third consecutive shut-out helped Jokerit beat Salavat Yulaev, and there was a lack of dynamism on display as Dynamo Moscow, Dinamo Minsk and Dinamo Riga all lost at home.
Errka Westerlund returned to his former club, but his Salavat Yulaev team could not end Jokerit’s long winning streak.
Two goals separated by a mere eight seconds, late in the middle session, made the difference as the Finns moved on to 14 straight victories. The first came on 38:03 after visiting goalie Ben Scrivens saw his attempted clearance blocked by Henri Ikonen. The puck went to Eeli Tolvanen, who played in Brian O’Neill for a close range finish.
In the aftermath of that goal, a scuffle broke out and Jokerit emerged with a power play. It took Jokerit almost no time to convert that opportunity, with Peter Regin taking possession from the restart, rushing deep into Salavat territory and sliding a pass for Tommi Huhtala on the slot. It never arrived: a kind deflection off Scrivens’ pads sent the puck into the net.
Salavat Yulaev never recovered from that double blow. Jokerit saw a third goal ruled out after a forward encroached on Scrivens’ crease, Ryan Zapolski recorded his third consecutive shut-out and extended his unbeaten run to 194 minute 46 seconds and Jokerit extended its club record streak.
Vladimir Tkachyov, a player on the fringes of Russia’s national team, delivered a reminder to the country’s head coach Oleg Znarok with a game-winning performance in St. Petersburg.
The 24-year-old decided this match-up of the two conference leaders with one goal in regulation and another in overtime, taking his tally for the season to 17 (11+6) points and frustrating Znarok in his other role behind the bench at SKA.
His winning goal came on the power play, with Ilya Kovalchuk sitting out a holding call. Tkachyov exchanged passes with Stanislav Galiyev before letting rip with a one-timer from the top of the circle. For SKA, unbeaten in its first 20 games, that meant two losses in three, although Znarok’s team has yet to lose in regulation this season.
This summit clash was a typically tight affair. Goalless for 39 minutes, the game exploded in the final minute of the second period with Tkachyov putting Ak Bars ahead only for Kovalchuk to respond immediately with a power play goal of his own.
After trading 10 goals in regulation, it took a solitary success from Staffan Kronwall to win the shoot-out and give Lokomotiv the verdict here.
For almost 40 minutes, from Vladislav Kartayev’s 12th-minute opener to Severstal’s tying goal in the 49th, the puck flew into the net with alarming frequency. But in the game’s finale, suddenly, the two goalies raised their game. Severstal’s youngster, Alexei Artamkin, grew into his role, making 18 saves in the third period and four more in overtime to frustrate Lokomotiv’s push for victory. By the time he was finally beaten by Kronwall, the 20-year-old had ensured that his second KHL start would be remembered for more than just a rush of goals allowed.
It all seemed so easy for Lokomotiv at the start, with the home side jumping to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Kartayev, Ilya Lyubushkin and Yegor Korshkov all found the net as the host bossed the game.
But after the halfway stage, the game changed dramatically. Severstal scored twice in a minute through Daniil Vovchenko and Alexander Shcherbina to make it a one-goal game, before Petri Kontiola got a touch on Jakub Nakladal’s shot to make it 4-2. The goals kept coming: Ruslan Karlin’s one-timer kept Severstal in contention, Yegor Averin increased Loko’s lead and Valery Vasilyev struck on the power play to complete a flurry of six goals in seven minutes and leave the game poised at 5-4 going into the third.
Sevestal tied it up in the 49th minute when Vasilyev got his second of the night while Artamkin’s impressive finish to the game denied Loko a winner before the shoot-out.
Neftekhimik snapped its three-game losing streak after recovering a two-goal deficit to win at Dynamo.
In-form Mikhail Varnakov opened the scoring for the home team early on, and Ivan Igumnov doubled the lead in the first period, but the visitor hit back after the intermission. Pavel Zdunov and Andrej Nestrasil scored either side of the midway point to tie the game at 2-2.
Igumnov, who scored Dynamo’s shoot-out winner last time out, got his second of the night to reinstate his team’s lead but Alexander Avtsin made it 3-3 against his former club in the 39th minute.
The winner came on the power play midway through the final session. Young defenseman Alexander Bryntsev got only his second career KHL goal to give Neftekhimik the points.
Dinamo’s hopes of closing on the top eight took a knock with this home defeat against Sochi.
Minsk had the better of a scoreless opening period but failed to turn an 11-2 shot supremacy into goals. Then the visitor took control with goals from Casey Wellman and Ivan Larichev early in the second. The latter, a 21-year-old forward, now boasts two goals from two KHL games so far in his career.
Dinamo Riga’s problems show little sign of easing, and Sunday brought yet another defeat for the Latvians.
Torpedo scored a goal in each period to ease to victory beside the Baltic and was rarely troubled after Evgeny Grachyov opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Kirill Urakov doubled the lead in a middle session that saw the host limited to just two shots on goal, and Yegor Dugin made it 3-0 early in the third.
Anssi Salmela’s power play goal in the 45th minute gave Dinamo some hope, but Torpedo held on for the win.