The big game in the Eastern Conference saw Ak Bars power to an emphatic 4-0 victory over old rival Metallurg, defeating the Magnitogorsk team on home ice for the first time in six attempts. Traktor’s Nick Bailen produced a game-winning display at Salavat Yulaev, while there were home successes for Neftekhimik and HC Sochi.
Defenseman Nick Bailen was Traktor’s hero, picking up three points in the game before grabbing the winner in the shoot-out.
After Friday’s thrashing in Kazan, Traktor made a cautious start. But, having trailed 0-6 after 20 minutes last time out, here the visitor led 1-0. Bailen got that goal, converting the only power play of a session in which Salavat Yulaev enjoyed the better opportunities.
The home team turned it around in the second thanks to two goals from Enver Lisin, but Bailen inspired Traktor’s recovery in the third. First, his shot from the blue line was converted by Paul Szczechura on the rebound. Then, on another power play, the D-man fashioned a chance for Linus Videll to make it 3-2. Joonas Kemppainen forced overtime with a late equalizer, but Traktor won the shoot-out comfortably.
Ak Bars strengthened its position at the top of the Eastern Conference with a resounding victory over Metallurg. The visitor, blanked by Emil Garipov, missed its opportunity to make up some valuable ground in a Conference where it has been dominant in recent seasons.
Recent times have also seen Ak Bars struggle to claim home victories over this old rival, with Magnitka winning the last five encounters in Kazan. This time, things were about to change.
The opening session was evenly-matched, but 53 seconds before the intermission Jiri Sekac raced away on the counter-attack to give Ak Bars the lead. To make matters worse for Magnitka, young defenseman Grigory Dronov suffered an injury in the same passage of play, adding to the pressures on Metallurg’s injury-hit blue line.
The middle stanza began with Vladimir Tkachyov making it 2-0 with a shot from a tight angle, and Metallurg’s hopes were fading some time before Nikita Yazkov added a third midway through the final period. Sekac wrapped up the win with a fourth goal, Garipov made 29 saves for his second shut-out of the season.
Goalies were on top for most of this game, but Neftekhimik’s Ilya Ezhov ultimately won the duel, making 22 saves for his fourth shut-out of the season.
The first period was goalless, although the teams traded 20 shots. The second period saw far more pressure on Jakub Kovar in the visitor’s net, but seemed destined to remain scoreless until Oleg Piganovich’s power play goal on 39:18.
The final session was a more cautious affair, settled when Pavel Kulikov found the empty net late on.
It took a long time for goals to arrive in Sochi, with no scoring in the first two periods. But once Lada ran into penalty trouble at the start of the third, the home team capitalized. Sergei Shmelyov converted a 5-on-3 power play to open the scoring.
That goal looked like it might be the winner: the home team continued to have the better of the game until the closing stages when it, too, found itself two men light. Lada took advantage of its chance, tying the game in the 59th minute through Alexei Mastryukov.