A crushing 9-1 victory over Barys kept SKA way out ahead of the rest, while Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars earned a 3-1 win at Sochi as Alexander Svitov got his 100th KHL goal. The day’s other games were tight: Amur won in overtime at Vityaz, Slovan did the same at home to Kunlun, Dynamo edged Avangard 2-1 and Neftekhimik beat Salavat Yulaev 3-2.
The pressure on Salavat Yulaev intensified after losing for the fifth time in six games. The Ufa team is now down to eighth in the Eastern Conference, remaining in the playoff places only by virtue of having more regulation wins than ninth placed Sibir.
In Monday’s game, 17 seconds of action summed up the team’s problems. Salavat Yulaev had only just celebrated Joonas Kemppainen’s tying goal when Dan Sexton went up the other end and delivered something special to reinstate the home lead. On the one hand, the American’s finish, looping the puck over … even as he was chopped down by Zakhar Arzamastsev’s despairing hook, was a spectacular play. On the other hand, there was evidence of a lack of concentration from the visitor’s D as Neftekhimik turned defense into attack and quickly demolished the foundations that Salavat had laid in this game.
The third period saw Linus Omark add to his earlier assist with a power play goal to tie the scores once again, but Oleg Piganovich got his second of the night to win it when he put away the rebound from an Erik Gustafsson shot with six minutes to play.
It’s not SKA’s first big win this season. It’s not even SKA’s first nine-goal haul of the season. But this one was something special. This time, Oleg Znarok’s team went up against one of the more successful outfits in the league and obliterated a Barys team that has been riding high in the Eastern Conference.
The home team quickly took control. In the fifth minute, Nikolai Prokhorkin stuffed home the rebound from Dinar Khafizullin’s shot, and a minute later Evgeny Ketov converted a Patrik Hersley pass to make it 2-0. Barys fought back, and Linden Vey thought he’d halved the deficit only to be denied by a video review. For visiting head coach Evgeny Koreshkov, that was the turning point of the game. Yegor Yakovlev and Sergei Plotnikov added two more for SKA before the first intermission, and the outcome was already more or less assured.
Then came a pause, with Barys goalie Sergei Kudryavtsev keeping SKA at bay throughout the second period. The home team still dominated play, firing in 11 shots against two, but could not add to its score. That all changed in the third: Sergei Kalinin potted a fifth during a 4-on-3 power play, then Plotnikov and Prokhorkin got their second goals of the game to push the lead out to 7-0. Nigel Dawes scored his 30th of the season as Barys finally got on the board with eight minutes left, but Vadim Shipachyov responded with an eighth in the 57th minute. Even then, SKA wasn’t done. With six seconds left, Ilya Kovalchuk lifted a wrist shot over the glove to complete the rout as the league leader made it six wins in a row.
Avangard went down to a third successive defeat as the Omsk offense continues to misfire. Up against a Dynamo team battling for a playoff place in the West, the Hawks were blasted as ‘toothless’ by head coach Andrei Skabelka.
Only in the final session did Skabelka see anything to encourage him, with defenseman Evgeny Medvedev pulling a goal back 10 minutes from the end in a period that Avangard dominated. By that time, Dynamo had scored twice: Igor Ignatushkin and Daniil Tarasov on target in the second period. Alexander Yeryomenko pulled off 29 saves to preserve that advantage.
Dynamo took the win, leaving visiting head coach Skabelka lamenting his team’s powder puff offense. “For nine periods now, our forwards have failed to score,” he said after the game. “That makes it hard for us.”
Vyacheslav Litovchenko’s overtime goal was enough for Amur after an entertaining game in Podolsk.
Despite a goalless first period, the teams began trading goals in earnest from the opening seconds of the middle frame. Alexei Byvaltsev and Vitaly Atyushov put the Tigers two goals up before Maxim Afinogenov replied for the host.
A flurry of goals early in the third saw Roman Horak briefly draw Vityaz level before Alexandre Picard reinstated Amur’s advantage. However, Stanislav Romanov fired in the 3-3 goal almost immediately: three goals in 46 seconds left the game poised. Neither team could find a winner in regulation, though, and Litovchenko gave Amur the points off an Atyushkov assist.
Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars came from behind to take the win at Sochi as captain Alexander Svitov got his 100th KHL goal.
The home team had the better of the first period, and got its reward in the 12th minute when Vadim Shchegolkov set up Evgeny Lapenkov for the opening goal. But Ak Bars did not panic, and turned the game around with two goals early in the middle frame.
Rob Klinkhammer got the tying goal, shooting home Andrei Markov’s pass from behind the net as the visitor enjoyed a power play. Then Vasily Tokranov finished off a well-worked play to make it 2-1. Svitov’s big moment came five minutes from the end to bring up his landmark and secure the win.
After winning just one game in 11 during a long home stand in Shanghai, Red Star headed west to Slovakia hoping for a new beginning. But China’s hockey pioneers found life on the road no more comfortable than playing at home, slipping to a 15th loss in 17 outings.
There wasn’t much between the teams in a goalless opening frame, but Jan Buchtele broke the deadlock in the 24th minute to put Slovan ahead. The host looked to be getting on top, but Gilbert Brule tied the scores in the 35th minute and it stayed that way until overtime.
Once into the extras, Zach Boychuk needed just 27 seconds to win it. His interception in center ice set him clear, his finish to the blocker side gave Magnus Hellberg no chance as the Canadian scored his sixth in four games.