Under-fire Salavat Yulaev let slip a two-goal lead to lose in overtime at Lokomotiv. The Ufa team’s old rival, Ak Bars, also had an unhappy evening, going down 0-3 at CSKA as the Army Men made it two successive shut-outs. There was a low-scoring derby win for Avangard, with Vitaly Menshikov’s goal proving sufficient to sink his former club, while Neftekhimik goalie Ilya Ezhov had 49 saves as his team won in a shoot-out at Vityaz. Jokerit went down 2-3 at home to Sochi.
Avangard won the second Siberian derby of the season – but once again, it was a tight affair.
Goalies Oleg Shilin and Alexei Krasikov were on top for much of the game, with Avangard having the better of the action but Sibir looking dangerous on the counter attack. The home team carved the clearest opening of the game in the middle frame when Andre Petersson got clean through on goal, but Krasikov came up with the answer to keep the game tied.
Finally, the breakthrough arrived in the third. Defenseman Vitaly Menshikov is not noted for prolific scoring and today he got only his second goal of the season. But his well-struck effort from the blue line was enough to clinch the points for Avangard against his former club. That lifted the Omsk team back to the top of the Chernyshev Division and just one point off the leadership of the Eastern Conference. Shilin claimed his second shut-out of the season.
The pressure is on in Ufa, with Salavat Yulaev’s recent form giving local fans cause for concern. Friday’s trip to Yaroslavl offered some answers … but ended with even more questions swirling around the Eastern Conference outfit.
First the good news. The opening stanza was among the best Erkka Westerlund’s team has produced this season. Full of fight and vigor, always on the look-out for scoring chances, the visitor thoroughly deserved its two-goal lead. Philip Larsen opened the scoring, firing home a Linus Omark pass from behind the net on a power play in the 16th minute, then Anton Burdasov made it 2-0 in the 19th minute with a well-worked goal. Loko’s frustrations boiled over, and head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov was sent from the bench after an argument with the referee at the start of the second period.
But then it all went wrong for the visitor. Yegor Korshkov got one back for Loko in the second period, then Staffan Kronwall tied it up early in the third. The play was even, either side could have won it in regulation, but Salavat was unable to find another goal. Then, inevitably, came the sucker punch. Ten seconds from the end of overtime, Jakub Nakladal pounced on the rebound after Andrei Loktionov’s shot was saved. Moments after the visitor threatened a winning goal at the other end, Loko snatched the points and heightened the pressure on Westerlund and his team.
Vityaz fired in 50 shots at Neftekhimik goalie Ilya Ezhov, but ended up losing in a shoot-out after being held to a 1-1 tie.
While both netminders performed strongly in regulation – home goalie Tomi Karhunen made 38 saves at the other end – their fortunes diverged sharply in the shoot-out. Karhunen allowed Neftekhimik to convert its first three attempts, with Andrej Nestrasil, Robin Hanzl and Emil Galimov all finding the net. Ezhov denied the first three attempts from Vityaz, and the game was settled.
After a goalless opening stanza, the teams traded goals in the second. Galimov gave the visitor the lead, but it took just four minutes for Vityaz to level through Alexander Nikulin.
That was the end of the scoring, though. Vityaz had the better of the overtime, helped by a penalty on Dan Sexton early in the extras, but despite firing in five shots – taking its tally for the night to 50 – there was no winning goal as Ezhov produced some fine reaction saves.
Jokerit suffered defeat at home to Sochi after an unlucky deflection undid goalie Karri Ramo.
Sochi twice trailed in the first period, with Casey Wellman’s goal for the visitor sandwiched between tallies from Tommi Kivisto and Pekka Jormakka. In the second, the Black Sea team came close when Ivan Larichev hit the post, but in the final stanza Sochi turned it around.
Alexei Tsvetkov was first to show, deking his way to a tying goal seconds after the restart. Then Pavel Padakin got the winner in the 53rd minute, albeit with a bit of help from Karri Ramo. The Sochi forward looked to squeeze in a shot on the wraparound after chasing Vadim Khlopotov’s pass behind the net. Padakin’s effort was off target, but Ramo deflected it into his own net off his stick to put the visitor in front for the first time in the game.
There was still time for one last Finnish power play, but the home team could not force overtime.
The leader in the East headed to Moscow to face the second-placed team in the West … and lost its way inside the first 10 minutes.
CSKA made a blistering start to this game, taking the lead through Nikita Nesterov after 67 seconds and doubling the advantage when Andrei Kuzmenko got a power play goal in the ninth minute. Kuzmenko is enjoying a good week after picking up 2+1 in the Army Men’s 3-0 victory over Salavat Yulaev on Wednesday.
This game also finished 3-0, thanks to a third-period goal from Kirill Petrov and 13 saves from Ilya Sorokin. For the second game running, CSKA not only enjoyed a comfortable win, but did a good job at muting a dangerous offense. Two successive shut-outs came after allowing just 30 shots in total.