Jokerit moved to 15 successive victories – five behind SKA’s freshly-minted record – after impressively downing Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars. SKA itself produced a powerful third-period display, led by two goals from Viktor Tikhonov, to beat Neftekhimik. Dinamo Riga’s experienced forward Mikelis Redlihs got his first goal of the season to earn his team an overtime win against Severstal, a result which allowed Dinamo Minsk to close the gap on the playoff places with success against Torpedo. Dynamo Moscow fell to a last-minute goal at home to Salavat Yulaev.
By the time the Czech found a way past Zapolski, Jokerit was already 2-0 up. The opening goal came on the first power play of the night, with Matt Gilroy’s close range slap shot making it 1-0. Peter Regin’s helper on that play made it six games in a row that the Dane has been among the points. The Finns were in complete control of the early stages – the first-period shot count finished 14-2 in Jokerit’s favor – and Antti Pihlstrom soon doubled the lead.
Ak Bars improved in the middle stanza, and stepped up another gear in the third. Deep into the final session, Jokerit had yet to force a single face-off at its opponent’s end of the ice. It had also seen Sekac reduce the deficit in the 51st minute. But Marko Anttila added a third goal for the host in the 57th minute, securing the victory and maintaining that winning run. Could SKA’s record be overtaken so soon?
SKA left it late to see off Neftekhimik with four unanswered goals in the third period.
For a time, it looked like the league leader might be heading for a third loss in four games as Neftekhimik claimed a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal from Ildar Shiksatdarov early in the second period. That was the second time the visitor had led in the game, with Alexander Avtsin’s opener cancelled out by Jarno Koskiranta.
But Andrei Nazarov’s hopes of victory against the club that sacked him as head coach early in the 2015-16 season evaporated as SKA turned up the heat in the final session. Vyacheslav Voynov sent Evgeny Ketov racing in on goal for the equalizer in the 46thminute, then former SKA goalie Ilya Ezhov was beaten from close range by Viktor Tikhonov as the shots rained in on his net.
Tikhonov slotted the fourth into an empty net, and there was still time for Sergei Kalinin to make it five to put some gloss on the final scoreline.
Dinamo Minsk closed to within two points of the playoff spots after a convincing win over Torpedo. The visitor arrived on the back of three wins, but rarely looked to be in contention after falling behind early on.
Quinton Howden got that opener, a power play tally in the fifth minute, and went on to have the better of the first period without adding further goals. Ilya Shinkevich then added a second at the start of the middle session.
Torpedo threatened to fight back, and 20-year-old forward Mikhail Smolin got his second goal in four games to reduce the deficit. But Alexander Kulakov reinstated the two-goal advantage prior to the second intermission and the visitor had one of those moments to forget early in the third. Artyom Volkov stole the puck in his own zone and spotted Vladimir Denisov returning from the sin bin. His pass was good, but Denisov’s shot was blocked by Stanislav Galimov. Enter Tomas Kundratek, who got himself between Denisov and the rebound, only to watch in horror as the puck bounced off his skate and slithered through the goalie’s pads and into the net.
That wasn’t the final word: Howden got his second of the night late on to seal an emphatic home victory.
A last-minute goal from Evgeny Korotkov gave Salavat Yulaev a narrow win at Dynamo.
The heavyweight forward claimed only his third goal of the season, forcing the puck home from close range after Alexander Yeryomenko lost track of Maxim Mayorov’s rush. In fairness to the Dynamo man, he only entered the game in the 50th minute after an injury to starting netminder Ivan Bocharov.
Dynamo had taken a first-period lead in this one, with Sakari Salminen converting a power play chance in the 14th minute. But the visitor hit back in the middle session when Gleb Kuzmin tied the scores before former Blue-and-White favorite Denis Kokarev made it 2-1.
Dustin Boyd equalized early in the third, but Korotkov’s late intervention denied the host anything from the game.
Dinamo enjoyed a rare victory despite trailing twice at home to Severstal.
This time, though, Dinamo was destined to recover. Gunars Skvorcovs tied it up early in the third and Mikelis Redlihs got the winner – his first of an injury-interrupted season – after two minutes of overtime. Dinamo now has two wins from five games, if your glass is half full, or two from 19 if your glass is half empty.