Early-season leader Avtomobilist posted its 17th straight victory, downing Sibir 4-1 to stretch its advantage at the top of the table. CSKA was close to a shock defeat at home to Admiral before winning in a shoot-out, SKA eased past Severstal on two Pavel Datsyuk goals.
On paper, the mismatch could hardly have been greater. Runaway leader Avtomobilist, undefeated all season, took on rock bottom Sibir – an opponent with only two wins to its name.
However, even if the home team’s class told in the end, this game was closer than expected for a time. The opening period, goalless, offered little to separate the two teams: a gulf in the championship table was reduced to a fine margin in head-to-head battle. Avtomobilist had the edge, but Sibir showed that it was capable of competing and creating chances at the other end.
Avtomobilist stepped up a gear after the intermission and the extra pace brought immediate rewards. First, Mikhail Mamkin opened the scoring with his first goal of the season. Then came a flurry of penalties for Sibir and one of those power plays was converted. Francis Pare got the goal, Nigel Dawes claimed an assist to stretch his productive run to 10 games. That equals Fyodor Malykhin’s club record in the KHL for Avto.
In the third period, Sibir finally got on the scoresheet with a power play goal from Alexander Loginov, his first of the season. However, it wasn’t enough to affect the outcome: the home team added further tallies through Stepan Khripunov and recent signing Evgeny Grachyov.
It was a battle of the brothers in Riga as Dinamo’s Mikelis Redlihs lined up against Krisjanis, recently signed by Red Star.
And it was the visitor, making his debut in the arena where he represented Dinamo for 10 seasons, who ended up on the winning side as Kunlun avenged a 2-4 loss in Shanghai last month to record its third win in four games.
Ville Lajunen broke the deadlock in the 15th minute, taking a touch before firing home Taylor Beck’s pass from behind the net. The Finnish defenseman had a hand in the second as well, shaping to shoot before wrong-footing the home team with a pass to Olli Palola for a power play goal as the second period drew to a close.
Dinamo made a game of it, pulling a goal back on the power play through Andris Dzerins. At that stage, with eight minutes to play, the home team had hopes of snapping its five-game losing run. But those hopes were ended by Brandon Yip’s empty netter and Dinamo’s frustrations boiled over as Dmitry Shulenin got embroiled in a fight with the scorer.
A pair of second-period goals from Pavel Datsyuk were enough to lift SKA past Severstal.
This was a routine game enlivened by a couple of moments of magic. First, in the 27th minute, Datsyuk executed a sharp turn in the corner to leave the visiting defense wide open. Advancing to the net, he then beat young goalie Alexei Artamkin with a backhand shot. Later in the middle frame, he bagged a second on the power play. This time it was an angled finish after Nail Yakupov won the puck on the slot and delivered a pass for his team-mate.
Severstal battled throughout but rarely managed to apply sustained pressure on Igor Shestyorkin’s net. The SKA goalie made 32 saves for his shut-out.
Admiral came within four minutes of an upset win in Moscow – but Maxim Shalunov spared CSKA from a surprise defeat with a late equalizer and a shoot-out winner.
The home team was always dominant in terms of shots and attacking possession, but struggled to find a way past Anton Krasotkin in the visiting net. The young goalie made 37 saves across 65 minutes to earn his team a point – but he was moments away from claiming the win.
Admiral, often out-gunned, took the lead against the run of play when Sergei Konkov scored on the power play midway through the second period. That lead endured until the 57th minute, when Konstantin Okulov’s pass released Shalunov and he converted his one-on-one chance to tie the scores. Overtime could not separate the teams, but Shalunov applied the finishing touch to the shoot-out. Okulov also scored in the shoot-out, while Lars Johansson made three saves from four attempts.
Two quick goals at the start of the second period turned this game around and helped Lokomotiv move to within a single point of third-placed Jokerit.
Dinamo, bottom of the Western Conference after four straight losses, took the lead midway through the first period through Quinton Howden. That lead lasted until the intermission, despite a run of Lokomotiv pressure.
The visitor made the breakthrough seconds after the restart. Vladislav Kartayev tied the game within a minute – Daniil Apalkov got the first of his three assists – then Loko’s youngsters combined for Rushan Rafikov to put the Railwaymen in front. Dinamo’s cause was further hampered when Artyom Artyomov was ejected from the game late in the middle frame for a high hit but the host managed to kill the major penalty and remain in contention at the start of the third.
In the final session, Andrei Loktionov added a third before Apalkov’s second assist of the game helped Denis Alexeyev make it 4-1. Dinamo appealed the goal, was denied and took a bench minor for its pains. The pressure on the home net intensified, a second penalty followed and eventually Petri Kontiola potted the power play goal off Apalkov’s third helper of the game. Dmitry Buinitsky pulled one back almost straight away, but there was to be no late drama from Dinamo.