Few gave Western Conference struggler Slovan much hope at Eastern high-flyer Avangard – but doughty defense, a late equalizer and an overtime winner snatched the surprise victory of the day for the Slovaks. Elsewhere, Salavat Yulaev kept up its winning streak against Traktor, Ak Bars edged Spartak by a solitary goal and Sochi won in overtime at Torpedo.
For the second time this season, Salavat Yulaev powered to a 5-0 victory over Traktor. Indeed, if we include pre-season games, this was the fifth time the Ufa team defeated its rival from Chelyabinsk since the end of the last campaign.
Despite that unhappy recent record, Traktor was competitive in the first period. There was little to choose between the teams and the visitor might even have grabbed the first goal. However, once Salavat Yulaev opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Teemu Hartikainen, there was no looking back for the host.
Vladimir Zharkov doubled the lead, thanks to a big deflection off a Traktor player; he and Hartikainen went on to score two apiece. The rout was completed by Philip Larsen, who got the luck of the bounce when his shot thudded into Alexander Sudnitsin’s shoulder and looped into the net.
A solitary goal from Alexei Potapov was enough to give Ak Bars victory over Spartak in a tight game in Kazan.
The visitor included new signing Enver Lisin – recently released by Sibir – in its roster and the forward got 11 minutes on the ice and had two shots and a minor penalty on his debut. Both teams changed their goalies for this one, with Emil Garipov returning to the Ak Bars net despite Vladislav Podyapolsky’s shut-out in Cherepovets and Julius Hudacek replacing Nikita Bespalov following Spartak’s 1-4 loss at Nefetkhimik.
Garipov duly delivered a second successive shut-out for the host. The one time Spartak got past him, midway through the second period, Martins Karsums’ effort was ruled out for the use of a hand. By then, Potapov had already given Ak Bars the lead and that 22nd-minute goal proved decisive.
Robert Rosen scored twice for Sochi, including the overtime winner, as Torpedo slipped to a fourth successive loss.
The home team opened the scoring through Robert Sabolic late in the first period, but Sochi always looked dangerous and got its reward as the middle frame drew to a close. Rosen’s first of the game tied the scores, then a power play effort from Kirill Kapustin in the final minute sent the visitor to the intermission with a narrow lead.
Sochi could not hold that advantage until the end: Damir Zhafyarov tied the scores early in the third period and that was enough to take us to overtime. Once in the extras, a penalty on Vladimir Galuzin gave the visitor the initiative and Rosen converted the power play to secure the win for Sochi.
The day’s coupon-wrecker came in Balashikha, where Slovan climbed off the foot of the Western Conference thanks to an overtime win against Avangard, second in the Eastern Conference.
It all happened late in the game for the visitor. Trailing 2-1 since the 19th minute, Slovan forced overtime with a Michal Repik goal two minutes from the end. Then Patrik Lamper came up trumps with the game-winner to send Avangard spiralling to a third successive loss.
Earlier, it seemed so rosy for the host. Kris Versteeg opened the scoring in the fourth minute and assisted on Maxim Chudinov’s power play tally to restore the lead. In between, Lamper got a helper on Mario Lunter’s tying goal. Marek Ciliak made 41 saves for Slovan as the Slovak team made it back-to-back overtime victories.