It was a day for memorable late action: in Ufa, Teemu Hartikainen scored a terrific overtime goal to sink Dynamo and make it three wins in a row for Salavat Yulaev. In Nizhnekamsk, SKA scored two in the last two minutes to finally subdue Neftekhimik. Only the game in Kazan finished calmly, with Ak Bars easing to a 3-1 win over Dinamo Minsk.
Salavat Yulaev made it three wins in a row after Teemu Hartikainen’s goal secured an overtime success over Dynamo. The result eases the pressure on the Ufa team, following on from victories against Ak Bars and Dinamo Minsk in the two previous games.
Those two earlier wins saw the opposition shut out, but Dynamo found a way to goal after just six minutes. Mikhail Anisin, playing only his third game of the season, picked out a peach of a pass for Martins Karsums to score at the far post. Anisin claimed his 200th KHL point with that effort, but had little time to enjoy his achievement as Salavat tied the game 30 seconds later through Enver Lisin.
A power play goal late in the second period saw Hartikainen put the home team in front for the first time, and it looked like the Finn had won it as the clock ticked down in the final stanza. But, with 25 seconds left to play, Andrei Alexeyev earned the visitor a shot at redemption. He fired home from close range after Karsums saw his effort saved by Ben Scrivens, and the game was headed to overtime.
Hartikainen had the final say. Another power play saw the Finn claim the winner – and what a way to do it. He collected Linus Omark’s feed in front of the net, and flicked the puck through his own legs before applying the backhand finish to beat Ivan Bocharov.
Ak Bars strengthened its position on top of the Eastern Conference with a comfortable home victory over Dinamo.
Jiri Sekac got the host off to a flying start when he opened the scoring after 65 seconds, converting Stanislav Galiyev’s pass from behind the net. The roles were reversed late in the opening stanza when the Czech put up an assist as Galiyev doubled the lead. Sekac fell victim to a crunching hit from Vladimir Denisov as he fed the puck down the boards, but his team-mate’s finish aided his swift recovery.
The league trailed for much of this game, but rallied to win it with three goals in the last eight minutes.
Neftekhimik, a genuine contender in the Eastern Conference this season, was out to demonstrate its Gagarin Cup credentials against the runaway leader. Head coach Andrei Nazarov, who briefly stood behind the bench in Petersburg, may also have had a personal point to prove. And, at first, the host looked impressive. The opening period was evenly-matched, and Pavel Poryadin’s eighth-minute goal separated the teams. That effort featured a rare assist from Alexei Volgin, the very definition of a stay-at-home D-man: his vicious shot from the blue line earned him only his seventh point in 86 KHL games as Poryadin touched it home.
After that, it was Ilya Ezhov’s turn to shine and the former SKA goalie kept his former club at bay until the 53rd minute. In the end, though, the pressure told. SKA fired in 40 shots on goal. Nikolai Prokhorkin found the equalizer, then a power play saw Vadim Shipachyov make it 2-1 with 81 seconds left. Neftekhimik protested furiously – Ezhov earned a misconduct penalty along the way – but the goal stood and Patrick Thoresen collected his first assist since returning to the KHL. Alexander Barabanov then secured the win with an empty net goal.