East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
Two forwards dominated the day’s play. In Ufa, Linus Omark produced five points, including his 100th KHL goal, as Salavat Yulaev thrashed Barys. In Moscow, Maxim Afinogenov’s first-ever KHL hat-trick helped Dynamo leapfrog Dinamo Minsk at the foot of the Western Conference. Elsewhere, SKA won at Loko, Avangard had too much for Red Star, and Severstal snapped its losing streak with victory over Vityaz.
Linus Omark reached 100 KHL goals – and did so in some style as he scored five points in this emphatic win for Salavat Yulaev.
The Swede’s landmark strike came just after midway in this game and stretched his team’s lead to 6-1 after a blistering start in Ufa. It took just 50 seconds for Dmitry Kugryshev to open the scoring, with Omark getting his first assist of the afternoon. A 5-on-3 power play helped Andre Petersson bring Barys level in the 16th minute, but Teemu Hartikainen’s first of the season restored the home lead before the intermission.
Five unanswered goals in the second period settled the outcome. Hartikainen got his second of the game, Artyom Sergeyev and Philip Larsen added tallies of their own and after Omark’s centenary strike he added a fourth assist of the day, this time for Joonas Kemppainen.
Barys pulled a couple back in the third period through Nikita Mikhailis and Dmitry Shevchenko, both scoring their first of the season. The heavy defeat left Barys head coach Andrei Skabelka admitting that he got it wrong; Salavat Yulaev jumps to third in the East.
Avangard needed some patience before seeing off Red Star and maintaining it’s strong start to the season.
On paper, it appeared something of a mismatch. Where Avangard had lost just once in its first eight games, Kunlun was limited to two victories. On the ice, though, the Chinese team was competitive but once again struggled to convert chances into goals. The teams traded markers midway through the first period, with Evgeny Medvedev putting the host in front only for Tomas Mertl’s first of the season to cancel out that advantage.
Lifted, Red Star intensified its offensive efforts in the second period. Avangard was limited to just seven shots on goal, but Kirill Semyonov found the net in the 39th minute to restore the lead. Early in the third period, Sergei Shirokov added a third and Avangard had some breathing space at last.
That wasn’t the end. Kunlun withdrew goalie Alexander Lazushin and saw Taylor Beck reduce the deficit. But seconds later an empty-net goal from Semyonov – his second of the game – sealed the win for the host.
Severstal responded to a three-game losing streak by shuffling its imports and moving Matej Stransky to the second line for the visit of Vityaz.
The changes paid off. Severstal grabbed the opening goal thanks to a fine solo effort from Maxim Rybin. The veteran forward danced his way through the Vityaz rearguard before applying a fine finish past Joni Ortio in the visitor’s net. Late in the first period, Carter Ashton’s redirect on a Zach Boychuk shot doubled the home lead.
This game was a battle between youth and experience. Loko’s young roster has impressed this season, and enjoyed a run of six wins from seven ahead of this match-up. SKA, meanwhile, has enormous championship experience and a long run of success in Yaroslavl … and managed to extend its current winning streak to six games.
It took some time for the visitor to find a way past young Ilya Konovalov in the home net but midway through the second period Nikolai Prokhorkin squeezed home a shot from an incredibly tight angle to open the scoring. Eight minutes later, Viktor Tikhonov doubled the lead and Loko could not find a way back. SKA goalie Igor Shestyorkin extended his shut-out sequence to 131 minutes and two seconds; the Petersburg team has won on its last nine trips to Lokomotiv.
Neither of these teams had enjoyed a particularly dynamic start to the season, but the Belarusians had shown some signs of improvement. A run of three wins from four lifted Gordie Dwyer’s team off the foot of the Western Conference, while the Muscovites slipped down there following Thursday’s defeat at home to SKA.
However, veteran forward Maxim Afinogenov was about to change all that. He potted a hat-trick – surprisingly, the 39-year-old’s first in just over eight seasons in the KHL. Dmitry Kagarlitsky had a goal and an assist, while Miika Koivisto supplied three helpers and Vadim Shipachyov two more. Young Alexander Petunin wrapped up the win for the host, while Oleg Yevenko got his first in the KHL and Sergei Kostitsyn scored the other reply for Minsk. The two teams swap places at the foot of the Western Conference.