The battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference is shaping up to be a thriller, and after today’s games there’s nothing to choose between Ak Bars and Avangard. The two met in Kazan, Avangard claimed a shoot-out win, and both are on 60 points. Barys is just two behind despite a 0-4 loss at Sibir. It was a day of overtime: apart from Avangard, Severstal beat Lada in a shoot-out, while Torpedo edged Metallurg and Amur downed Dinamo Minsk in OT. Lokomotiv won 2-0 at Admiral.
Lokomotiv had to do without head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov, suspended for this game after talking himself into trouble during his team’s last outing against Salavat Yulaev. But the Railwaymen were not sidelined by the boss’s absence and skated to a 2-0 success with a performance that was more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests.
Home goalie Ivan Nalimov made 40 saves to keep his team in contention until the final seconds; Yegor Averin’s empty-net goal finally finished off Admiral in a game where Loko had twice as many shots. Despite that dominance, it wasn’t until after the midway mark that the visitor finally got ahead: Petri Kontiola got the goal as the import line with Max Talbot and Brandon Kozun fired once again.
Talbot’s evening ended soon afterwards, ejected from the game late in the second period. Loko continued to press for more goals, but Nalimov held firm until he was pulled late on and Averin sealed the win. Alexander Sudnitsin made 18 saves for his shut-out.
Amur got back on track after two straight losses, but needed overtime to see off Dinamo Minsk.
The home team opened a 2-0 lead early in the second period thanks to quick goals from Tomas Zohorna and Vladislav Ushenin. But early in the third, Dinamo repeated that trick and tied the game thanks to Quinton Howden and Andrei Stepanov.
The game was settled in the fourth minute of overtime when Oleg Li potted his eighth of the season.
Sibir shot down Barys for the third time this season, denying the Kazakh team a chance to return to the top of the Eastern Conference.
A combination of Alexei Krasikov’s 27 saves and a willingness to punish Barys’ indiscretions made the difference in this encounter, with Sibir taking control after a slow first period. The opening goal came in the 33rd minute when Stepan Sannikov was tripped as he looked to shoot. Sannikov recovered to convert the penalty shot, and Sibir honed that slight edge.
Moments before the second intermission, Igor Levitsky added a power play goal, then Nikolai Demidov made it 3-0 with another PP marker as the third period headed towards its close. Jonas Enlund was the only player to score an equal-strength tally, completing the scoring late on.
The day’s big clash saw top play second in the Eastern Conference … and after a roller-coaster game, the two teams finished level on 60 points following a shoot-out win for Avangard.
Looking to overhaul a one-point deficit at the top of the table, the Omsk team made the better start. Goals from Alexander Perezhogin and Maxim Chudinov gave Avangard a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Ak Bars recovered to tie the game shortly after the midway point. Albert Yarullin and Nikita Yazkov brought the host level to set up a compelling third period.
Yaroslav Kosov got his first goal since moving to Ak Bars from Magnitogorsk to put his team in front with eight minutes left. That was almost enough to win it, but Avangard saved itself in the last minute. Andre Petersson’s shot was parried across the face of goal where Ilya Mikheyev was waiting unmarked to tuck away the rebound.
Ak Bars swapped goalies for the shoot-out, bringing on Timur Bilyalov in place of Emil Garipov. But the switch did not pay off: Kirill Semyonov found the way past the new man, while Oleg Shilin denied all of the home attempts.
Galuzin converted a Denis Parshin assist with just 49 seconds left in overtime to snap a 1-1 tie and slow Magnitka’s mini-revival of late.
Earlier the visitor looked well set to extend its two-game winning run. Evgeny Timkin put Metallurg up on a power play midway through the first period, and the visitor did a good job of limiting chances in front of Vasily Koshechkin for much of the game.
However, Evgeny Mozer tied the game with an extravagant wraparound effort, halting Magnitka’s run of shut-outs and ultimately forcing the extras.
The day’s highest scoring game was in Cherepovets, where Severstal claimed a shoot-out verdict after a 4-4 tie.
Earlier, though, it was a day for goalies to forget as the scoreboard kept ticking over. Jiri Novotny’s early opener for Lada was quickly overshadowed by three Severstal goals in the first period: Dmitry Kagarlitsky, Valery Vasilyev and Daniil Vovchenko all found the net. In the middle frame, Kirill Kapustin scored twice for the visitor, but Ruslan Karlin’s effort kept Severstal in front. Semyon Valuisky brought Lada level in the third, but the Motormen could not find the road to victory in the closing stages.