It was a good day to take on former team-mates. CSKA’s head coach Igor Nikitin returned to Avangard – where he began his coaching career – and emerged with an overtime verdict in the big game of the day. Barys goalie Henrik Karlsson made 44 saves to shut out his former club, Jokerit, in a 4-0 victory in Kazakhstan. The other game say Ugra ease past Vityaz 4-1.
Monday’s big game pitted second place in the East against second place in the West – and produced the kind of hard-fought game you’d expect.
It ended with an overtime victory for CSKA, and a happy return for the Army Men’s head coach Igor Nikitin, whose coaching career began in Omsk, but this was a game that could have gone either way. Neither team created a lot of clear chances and, as time passed, both sides played ever more cautiously. The fear of losing seemed at times to outweigh the will to win.
It wasn’t until a late Avangard power play that things changed. CSKA’s Mikhail Naumenkov went into the box; Kirill Semyonov took advantage to put the home team ahead with a shot that Ilya Sorokin could not see through a screen in front of his net.
If the home fans thought that was enough to win it, they were swiftly corrected. CSKA responded with a tying goal from the next shift as Kirill Kaprizov set up Sergei Shumakov with a fine feed. In overtime, Kaprizov repeated the trick, claiming the assist on Maxim Shalunov’s game-winner.
Henrik Karlsson collected his 100th victory in the KHL after shutting out his former club. Barys picked up its second victory over Jokerit in less than a week, having claimed an overtime verdict in Finland last Wednesday.
If that game was tight, this one went firmly in the home team’s way once Roman Savchenko opened the scoring in the 10th minute. Nigel Dawes potted a power play goal in the second to take his tally to 25 for the season, and there were unassisted markers from Talgat Zhailauov and Darren Dietz in the third to complete the verdict.
Karlsson picked up his third shut-out of the season, making 44 saves to frustrate the Finns. At the other end, Ryan Zapolski – one of the KHL’s in-form goalies this season – had an evening to forget. He was pulled after the third Barys goal, having allowed three from 19 shots.
Ugra turned on the style in the third period to earn a comfortable victory at home to Vityaz.
But the final stanza saw Ugra take control. Pavel Shen’s second of the season made it 2-1 in the 46th minute, and proved to be the game-winner. Two late strikes from Alexander Ugolnikov and Oleg Pogorishny added some gloss to the final scoreline.