Emil Garipov’s third shut-out of the season backstopped Ak Bars to a 2-0 victory at Admiral and strengthened the team’s position at the top of the Eastern Conference. Traktor climbed to eighth, at the expense of Kunlun Red Star, thanks to a 3-2 success at home to Lada but high-flying Neftekhimik suffered an overtime loss at Amur. Severstal missed the chance to overtake Dynamo Moscow in the Western Conference, going down 1-2 at home to Sibir, while Dinamo Minsk took an overtime verdict against its namesake from Riga.
Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars emerged from a tough examination in Vladivostok with a shut-out victory.
The early action brought no goals, but was an intense confrontation with both goalies on top form. Admiral’s Igor Bobkov even pulled off a save from Artyom Lukoyanov’s penalty shot early in the second period after Jonathon Blum was called for hooking.
The deadlock was finally broken late in the middle session when Atte Ohtamaa put the visitor in front. That prompted Admiral to step up its offense in the third period, but Emil Garipov was in unbeatable form, finishing the game with 30 saves for his third shut-out of the season. Ak Bars’ day was complete in the final second when Jiri Sekac shot into an empty net to complete the win.
Vladislav Ushenin’s overtime winner settled a game that was evenly matched throughout.
Amur had more of the play in the first period, but could not convert that into a lead at the intermission. Vitaly Atyushov converted a Tomas Zohorna pass to open the scoring, but Neftekhimik tied it up through Bogdan Yakimov.
In the middle session, the roles were reversed. Neftekhimik led twice, and Amur was swift to respond on both occasions. Atyushov and Yakimov struck again, with Dmitry Ogurtsov (Neftekhimik) and Vyacheslav Litovchenko (Amur) also on the scoresheet.
The third period brought an even more rapid exchange of goals, with just 48 seconds between Andrei Sergeyev making it 4-3 to the visitor and Vyacheslav Ushenin tying it at 4-4. The home team collected the bonus point in overtime, thanks to Vladislav Ushenin’s power play goal.
Traktor moved into the playoff places in the Eastern Conference after winning its third game in a row on Sunday.
Anvar Gatiyatulin’s team has been steadily improving in recent weeks, and in a tight section, Traktor came into the game knowing that a top-eight position was well within its grasp. However, it took time to take the initiative against a Lada team struggling with injuries. Paul Szczechura got the opener, firing home from just inside the blue line. But Lada hit back, and Charles Genoway’s break-out ended with a short-handed goal to tie the scores. It took a fine goal from Linus Videll to reinstate the lead in the 36th minute.
In the third, Traktor increased its advantage when Ivan Vishnevsky grabbed what proved to be the game-winner. Kirill Kapustin hit back for Lada with five minutes left, but the Motormen could not salvage a result.
Sibir defeated Severstal for the second time this season thanks to a pair of first-period goals.
Severstal, which was looking to strengthen its grip on a playoff place in the West as Spartak’s run of form moved it into contention just behind the Steelmen, rallied. The home team had the better of a goalless middle frame and halved the deficit in the 43rd minute thanks to Alexander Bumagin. But Sibir, with Alexei Krasikov in goal in place of Alexander Salak, held on despite a fusillade of shots on its net in the final period. Krasikov finished with 39 saves.
This Dinamo derby was settled 20 seconds into overtime by Justin Fontain. The Minsk forward collected the puck in his own zone, burst into Riga territory and, faced by two D-men, found a shooting lane from the top of the circle to decide the outcome.
That snapped a three-game losing run for the Belarusians, in a game where they outshot their opponent but struggled to turn chances into goals. Dmitry Korobov opened the scoring in the 25th minute, but Maris Bicevskis tied it up just after the midway mark.
Riga failed to build on its surprise win over Avangard, but the KHL’s basement team can at least point to a run of four games in which it has picked up at least a point. Under the interim guidance of Girts Ankipans, there are some signs of recovery in Riga.