Hallowe’en spooked out Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars, with the team going down 1-3 at Amur. Salavat Yulaev also had plenty to fear, sinking 1-5 at Admiral. In Shanghai, Mike Keenan claimed his 100th KHL victory with a 2-0 success at home to Neftekhimik.
In the Western Conference, runaway leader SKA was pushed all the way by basement club Dinamo Riga before winning 3-2, while the forwards found themselves haunted by missed chances in Yaroslavl and Moscow: Lokomotiv lost 1-0 to Severstal, Dynamo and Torpedo played out a 0-0 tie before Torpedo won in a shoot-out.
For Admiral fans, it was a thriller; for Salavat Yulaev it was a horror show. The home team’s big win reinvigorated its hopes of getting into playoff contention, while the visitor remains anxiously placed just above the trap door.
The first period was goalless, thanks largely to the efforts of home goalie Ivan Nalimov. But Admiral took the lead early in the second thanks to Vladimir Tkachyov and doubled that advantage at the halfway mark through Dmitry Sayustov. Both goals were scored on the power play, but the officials were not the only gremlins for the visitor. Nazir Gichibekov, 22, got his first ever KHL goal to make it 3-0 and end Andrei Kareyev’s Hallowe’en nightmare.
Salavat got one back early in the third when Vyacheslav Solodukhin found the target, but like a movie bad guy who won’t lie down, Admiral didn’t give up. Two goals in the 49th minute saw Sayustov get his second of the game (and Tkachyov pick up his third point) before Ivan Fishchenko finished it off.
An early goal, an opponent reduced to five defensemen after two players were ejected from the game … but Ak Bars could not manage any more than a 1-3 reverse at Amur in a Hallowe’en shock.
The first period belonged the visitor. Alexander Svitov opened the scoring in the third minute, and Amur’s Denis Kuzmin was sent back to the locker room after a swipe between an opponent’s legs in the 13th minute. But there was evidence of a ghost in the Ak Bars machine: that major penalty went unpunished, Amur got to the intermission just one goal behind.
Then the nightmare began for Ak Bars. Tomas Zohorna tied the game on the power play early in the second, and Kirill Rasskazov put the home team in front shortly afterwards. Maxim Kondratyev was the second Amur player to be removed after a high hit in the 25th minute, but once again Ak Bars was unable to convert the power play. Back at full strength, the Ushenin twins combined for Alexander Gorshkov to make it 3-1.
There was no way back. Juha Metsola held Ak Bars at bay in the final stanza; Jan Kolar’s late misconduct penalty took Amur’s penalty tally to 64 minutes, but there was no power play goal for the visitor.
Mike Keenan brought up his 100th KHL win, outsmarting a man who once played for him in Boston.
Andrei Nazarov’s Neftekhimik has been a form team in the East this season, but could not find a way past Magnus Hellberg in the home net. Hellberg made 27 saves, and the post helped him out when former Kunlun hot-shot Chad Rau beat him early in the second period.
Red Star won it in the third. Pavel Vorobei converted a power play to open the scoring in the 41st minute, then Brandon DeFazio added a second with four minutes left. Kunlun’s first win in five puts the Chinese team back into the playoff spots.
This clash of the Motormen hit top gear right away: Francis Pare put Avto ahead after 14 seconds, Semyon Valuisky equalized in the fourth minute. Krikunov’s first of the game gave the home team the edge at the first intermission.
In the final stanza, Georgy Belousov twice hauled Lada level again, but Milovzorov got a double to keep Avtomobilist on the right road. Krikunov got his second into an empty net to seal the win.
Magarilov, making only his second appearance of the season, had the magic touch with 25 saves to deny Lokomotiv and lift Severstal up to sixth in the Western Conference table. Sudnitsin made 21 saves at the other, but crucially allowed the game’s only goal.
That came after Alexander Yelesin was ejected for a high hit. Severstal took advantage of its power play and Oleg Yashin rounded off a neat interchange with a close-range finish to win the game for the visitor.
The hoodoo struck in Moscow as well, with forwards struggling in this match-up at Dynamo.
There was no scoring in 65 minutes of play, with home goalie Alexander Yeryomenko making 40 saves to keep the Blue-and-Whites in the game.
He was finally beaten by Denis Parshin in the shoot-out; Parshin’s was the only successful attempt of a night when forwards found it almost impossible to break the spell around the nets. Torpedo’s win tightens its grip on fifth place, Dynamo stays in eighth, anxiously monitoring Spartak’s recent revival.
In his days as Dynamo Moscow head coach, Oleg Znarok found Dinamo Riga to be something of a bogey team. Back then, he was also head coach of Team Latvia, and some diagnosed a measure of sympathy for his adopted country.
Today, the Latvians again came close to frustrating Znarok’s team. SKA, so imperious at the top of the table, looked like a home banker against lowly Dinamo, but ended up edging a tight verdict.
The first period looked to be going to plan. SKA was in command of the game, and Evgeny Ketov made it 1-0 in the 16th minute. But Brandon McMillan tied it up a couple of minutes later, and the script was hastily rewritten.
Instead of the expected procession, we now had a dogfight. The second period was tight – just 13 shots on goal in total, including a penalty shot from Nikolai Prokhorkin saved by Janis Kalnins’ pads. Prokhorkin made amends in the last second of the session, scoring from close range to give SKA the lead.
Sergei Shirokov added a third in the 49th minute, but Dinamo kept battling and set up a tense finish when Danny Kristo pulled it back to 3-2 with 109 seconds left on the clock. SKA held out, but this was a closer call than expected.
A high-scoring game ended with Dinamo claiming a shoot-out victory and closing to within a point of Spartak in the race for a playoff place.
That outcome seemed unlikely early on, as Spartak – buoyed by five straight wins – jumped to a 2-0 lead through Alexander Kuznetsov and Vladislav Provolnev. But Minsk hit back: three goals in four minutes turned the game around. Alexander Kitarov, Andrei Stepanov and Kristian Khenkel gave Dinamo the lead, only for Spartak to tie it up with a power play goal from Alexander Khokhlyachov right on the hooter.
The teams traded goals in the third. Jack Skille converted a power play to make it 4-3 to Dinamo; Alexei Pepelyayev levelled with two minutes left. After overtime was goalless, Yegor Sharangovich claimed the shoot-out winner.