A heavy defeat in Minsk saw Ak Bars miss out on a return to top spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Belarusians closed to within four points of a playoff spot in the West. Tatarstan’s other team, Neftekhimik, is now just one point behind its local rival after a 4-1 win at home to Sibir, while Sochi’s 4-2 win at Vityaz gives the Black Sea team a small cushion in seventh place in the West.
Sibir’s hopes of tightening its faltering grip on a playoff place were comprehensively flattened in barely three minutes of the first period. Neftekhimik hit a purple patch to score four goals in three minutes, 11 seconds, and put the game beyond reach.
It wasn’t even a case of penalty trouble: aside from goal number two from Chad Rau, these were equal strength markers. Ildar Shiksatdarov kicked things off on 9:04 when he swept home the loose puck after Oleg Piganovich caused chaos in the visiting defense. Rau doubled that lead on 11:09 and the floodgates really opened. Marat Khairullin made it three on 11:55, chasing Alexander Salak from the net in the process, but incoming goalie Alexei Krasikov held out for just 20 seconds before succumbing to Emil Galimov.
Neftekhimik could not maintain that scoring rate, and Krasikov kept the home team at bay for the rest of the encounter but the damage was done. Stepan Sannikov got one back early in the second period, but Sibir never seriously threatened to recover from that early blitz.
Dinamo sprung a surprise against Ak Bars to keep Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team away from the Eastern Conference summit.
The first period was all Dinamo, but despite outshooting Ak Bars 14-2, the Belarusians remained deadlocked at the first intermission. That all changed with Yegor Sharangovich’s power play goal at the start of the middle session, as Emil Garipov finally yielded in the visiting net. However, giving up that marker also galvanized Ak Bars, and Mikhail Glukhov hauled the Tatars level in the 27th minute. At this point, it seemed that the visitor was poised to take control of the game, but Evgeny Kovyrshin had other ideas and made it 2-1 to Dinamo against the run of play.
Sean Collins scored two in the last three minutes as Sochi claimed a comeback win at Vityaz.
The home team led 2-1 going into the third period after goals from Maxim Afinogenov and Yegor Voronkov cancelled out Sochi’s opener from Vadim Khlopotov. Alexei Makeyev, hero of Russia’s Deutschland Cup win on Sunday, had an assist on Afinogenov’s marker.
But after tasting victory in Augsberg, he was destined to suffer defeat in Podolsk as Sochi rallied in the final stanza. Adam Polasek tied it up in the 48th minute and Collins struck two late goals to take the points back down south.
After seemingly cruising to victory with 10 minutes left, Slovan was left hanging on in the closing minutes as Salavat Yulaev roared back with two late goals.
Slovan took an early lead through Michal Repik, and the game remained at 1-0 until late on. Then, in the third period, it caught fire. The home team jumped out to a 3-0 advantage on tallies from Zach Boychuk and Michal Sersen, and seemed to have put the outcome beyond doubt.
But Salavat rallied in the last 10 minutes. Joonas Kemppainen got the visitor on the scoreboard, and Anton Burdasov made it a one-goal game once again with four minutes remaining. It wasn’t enough, though. Slovan held on to take the three points.