East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
A 5-3 win at Admiral maintained Avtomobilist’s perfect start to the season: the Motormen are now up to 13 consecutive victories. Metallurg won 3-1 at Kunlun Red Star, while CSKA and Barys went to overtime in Astana before the Army Men completed a trio of road wins in Wednesday’s games.
Metallurg repeated its 3-1 scoreline from September 9 as it defeated Red Star for the second time this season.
The visitor gave Artyom Zagidulin the start as it returned to the club where the young goalie made his KHL debut on loan in 2016-17 season. And, back in China, Zagidulin rose to the occasion with a winning performance.
Although much of the play was fairly even, Magnitka showed sharper finishing to make the most of its chances and claim the win. Viktor Antipin opened the scoring midway through the second period and Pavel Varfolomeyev scored twice in quick succession in the third to take the game away from the host. For Varfolomeyev, a summer signing from Ugra, those were his first goals for his new club.
Red Star, hit by injuries and suspensions, could take some consolation from another disciplined display but rarely looked capable of recording its first ever regular-season victory over Metallurg. A last-gasp Brandon Yip goal was the team’s sole reward in this game.
Avtomobilist’s winning run continues with this success beside the Pacific bringing up a 13th successive victory this season.
The first period saw the visiting offense take the game to Admiral – but the scores were deadlocked at the intermission. Two goals from Denis Vikharev moved the Admiral youngster to four for the season; they were separated by two strikes in the space of a minute as Anatoly Golyshev and Kirill Lyamin scored for Avto.
In the middle frame, Stephane Da Costa’s second of the season put the visitor in front early on and Ilya Krikunov added a fourth for Avtomobilist in the 23rd minute. But Admiral refused to buckle and raised its own attacking game to pull one back through Alexander Streltsov just before the end of the period.
That set up a final session of home pressure and Avto resistance. Admiral spent much of the game on the front foot, desperately searching for a tying goal. Avtomobilist responded with well-drilled defense, keeping the home team to the outside for much of the play. A late gamble saw Nikita Serebryakov withdrawn, and Vyacheslav Litovchenko took advantage to tuck away his first of the season into the empty net.
Games involving Barys this season have tended to be high-scoring: prior to today’s meeting, fans of the Kazakh team had seen 85 goals in 11 games, a KHL high for the current campaign. This time, though, the drama came from late goals rather than a torrent of scoring. Sergei Andronov put CSKA in front in the 56th minute, only for Brandon Bochenski to take the game to overtime with a tying goal 90 seconds from the end.
In contrast to Barys, CSKA has moved up the Western Conference table thanks to a parsimonious defense – and in the early stages, that set the tone for this encounter. The opening period saw the teams trade just 16 shots as much of the play took place in neutral territory. The visitor, more accustomed to cautious play, opened the scoring thanks to Artyom Blazhiyevsky’s first of the season in the 27th minute.
Barys tied it up early in the third. Pavel Akolzin and Anton Sagadeyev harried CSKA’s defense into the corner, Sagadeyev brought the puck behind the net and found his team-mate well-placed to put a one-timer to the top shelf amid a crowded crease. However, the Army Men shut down the home offense for much of the rest of the game, seemingly reaping the rewards when Andronov scored. But Bochenski was alert on the slot to force home the puck after a Darren Dietz point shot and take the action into the extras. CSKA’s win moves it level with Jokerit at the top of the Western Conference; Barys suffered its first loss in four.