East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
After six successive victories, Avtomobilist is the only team not to suffer defeat in the KHL this season. The Yekaterinburg team won 4-1 at Traktor, while previously-unbeaten Avangard went down at home to Metallurg. There was a shock in Moscow where Severstal defeated CSKA, while Slovan let a 2-0 lead slip at home to Dynamo Moscow before snatching a late winner.
Two goals from Dan Sexton paced Avtomobilist to its sixth consecutive victory – and took Andrei Martemyanov’s team clear at the top of the KHL table. Sexton’s double wasn’t the day’s only notable scoring feat. Anatoly Golyshev found the net for the fourth game in a row, and Stephane Da Costa celebrated his 100th regular-season KHL outing with his first goal for Avtomobilist. The French forward had previously starred for CSKA Moscow.
Traktor had won its three previous games against Avtomobilist, and threatened to make it four in a row after Paul Szczechura opened the scoring in the seventh minute during a 5-on-3 power play. That was the high point of his evening, though. Later in the first period he suffered an injury after a clash with Nikolai Timashov and was stretchered off the ice.
By then, the visitor was already. Sexton saw his deflected shot beat Alexander Sudnitsin to tie the scores. Soon after Szczechura’s departure, Golyshev put Avtomobilist in front seconds before the first break. Da Costa’s big moment came on the power play late in the second and Sexton wrapped it up with an empty-net goal to take his tally for Avto to four.
After Avtomobilist’s victory in Chelyabinsk, Avangard missed its chance to maintain its own perfect start to the season. Just 24 hours after edging past Ak Bars in a shoot-out, the Hawks faced another Eastern Conference showdown against Metallurg and the visitor found the extra strength to edge a tight verdict and make it four wins from four as Josef Jandac’s team starts to hit its stride.
Captain Sergei Mozyakin got the only goal midway through the game. David Desharnais was sitting out a penalty and the Magnitka PP got to work. The goal was simplicity in itself: Viktor Antipin left the puck on his own blue line for Mozyakin, and the forward cruised through center ice unopposed, crossing the other blue line before launching an unstoppable shot past Igor Bobkov.
Desharnais’ evening didn’t get any better. A few minutes after the goal he was ejected from the game for slew footing, whipping away Nikolai Kulemin’s standing leg as the teams battled for possession in the corner. Avangard killed the penalty – even surviving two minutes of 5-on-3 play – but could not recover its momentum in the final frame. Vasily Koshechkin stopped 26 shots in total to clinch the win for Magnitka.
For the second time in three days, CSKA suffered a defeat in its new home arena. This time, Severstal got the better of the Army Men thanks to goals from Arturs Kulda and Sergei Monakhov plus a well-drilled, disciplined performance to neutralize the powerful home offense.
Severstal’s early menace was no fluke. The visitor refused to be overawed and played a full part in an even first period. The reward came in the 19th minute. A power play for the visitor, and Arturs Kulda wound up a point shot that beat Ilya Sorokin. The home goalie’s task was complicated by Carter Ashton’s screen in front of him.
In the second period, CSKA stepped up the pace – but ended up falling further behind. Sergei Monakhov’s fore-checking created the chance, Ruslan Karlin slung in a pass from the boards and Monakhov got his stick down in front of Mat Robinson to steer the puck beyond Sorokin. The Moscow crowd, still getting used to life at the Park of Legends Arena, responded with frustration as CSKA stared down the barrel of a second successive loss in its new home.
The mood lifted somewhat late in the middle frame when Mikhail Grigorenko pulled a goal back for CSKA on the power play. But Severstal did not allow the Army Men to march back into the game. Far from taking control of the play in the final stanza, CSKA was drawn into a gritty battle as Severstal closed down its zone and allowed just eight shots on Dominik Furch’s net.
Slovan got its second win of the season but Dynamo’s problems continued as the Blue-and-Whites suffered a fifth loss in six games after Eric Gelinas’ late goal.
The Canadian, who swapped the NHL for the KHL over the summer, got his first goal since coming to Europe with a little under four minutes to play. With Slovan on the power play, Jeff Taffe fed the puck back to the point and Gelinas drilled a slap shot beyond Alexander Yeryomenko to snatch the win.
Dynamo had felt it was on its way to at least a point from this game after clawing back an 0-2 deficit. Slovan took the lead in the 27thminute when Matus Sukel led a rush and dropped an intelligent pass for Mario Grman to shoot. With the Dynamo defense wrong-footed, Grman had a clear view of Alexander Yeryomenko’s net and although the goalie got something on it, the puck looped up and into the net.
Early in the third period the teams traded power play goals. Michal Repik made it 2-0 for Slovan, squeezing the puck through a narrow corridor between Yeryomenko, #55 and the post after Taffe’s shot flashed across the danger zone. But Dynamo hit back immediately when Daniil Tarasov got on the end of Vadim Shipachyov’s pass from behind the net to make it a one-goal game. Then Vladimir Bryukvin got his stick onto Vitaly Menshikov’s feed to tie the scores with eight minutes to play. But the comeback remained incomplete and Slovan left with plenty to celebrate.