An overtime win over Salavat Yulaev put Severstal three points clear of Dynamo Moscow – and level on points with seventh-placed Spartak – as the Western Conference playoff race goes to the wire. Spartak slipped to a defeat at home to Sochi. Torpedo ended its six-game losing streak against Neftekhimik, while Ak Bars picked up a surprisingly rare win in Riga.
Severstal held its nerve to win in overtime despite letting a lead slip at home to Salavat Yulaev.
The Steelmen desperately needed the points to boost their playoff push, and knew that tonight’s game was a great chance to put more distance between themselves and Dynamo Moscow. But, after opening a 2-0 lead through goals from Dmitry Kagarlitsky and Oleg Yashin, it all went astray in the final period.
Anton Burdasov scored twice for the visitor, tying the game up with five minutes to play. For a time, it seemed that Severstal might throw away the victory it so badly wanted, but a minute into overtime Ruslan Karlin popped up with the game winner to keep his team on course for a top-eight finish.
Life has not been kind to Torpedo in recent games, and six successive defeats did little to lighten the mood around the team.
But the visit of Neftekhimik, itself stumbling a little in the Eastern Conference, finally saw Peteris Skudra’s team back to winning ways thanks to a strong third-period display. Grigory Zheldakov snapped a 2-2 tie to give the home team the edge with six minutes to play, and Mikhail Zhukov finished the job with an empty-net goal.
Earlier, the teams traded goals for 40 minutes. Bogdan Yakimov gave the visitor an early lead, but Kaspars Daugavins tied the scores. In the middle frame, the pattern repeated. Rafael Bikmullin put Neftekhimik in front, only for Mikhail Grigoryev to level.
Ak Bars has a surprisingly unimpressive record in Latvia, but shook off that hoodoo to record its first victory at Dinamo since 2013.
The early signs suggested that Dinamo’s old magic might strike yet again as Karl Stollery gave the home team the lead. But Vladimir Tkachyov and Anton Lander scored twice in 90 seconds to put Ak Bars in front by the first intermission.
The visitor enjoyed the better of the second period, but had to wait until the 54th minute before extending its lead. Justin Azevedo’s power play goal, assisted by two wily old hands in Danis Zaripov and Andrei Markov, stretched the advantage to 3-1, and Atte Ohtamaa wrapped up the win late on.
Evgeny Lapenkov struck the winning goal seconds from the end of overtime, leaving one of his former clubs frustrated as it chases a playoff spot.
Sochi’s much-travelled forward snapped a 2-2 tie on 64:43, punishing the host after it suffered a too many men penalty. The defeat enabled Severstal to catch up with Spartak, but the Red-and-Whites move three points clear of Dynamo.
That gap might have been even bigger. Spartak twice led in regulation. Artyom Voronin gave the team a first-period lead, only for Sergei Shmelyov to reply in the second. Then Lukas Radil’s strike early in the third was cancelled out by youngster Ivan Larichev in the 54th minute.