Alexei Zhamnov, once renowned as a rugged center for Winnipeg and Chicago, made a winning start as interim head coach at Spartak Moscow. The club’s GM took the helm for today’s game against Slovan and oversaw a 4-1 win. That result helped Dinamo Riga move to eighth place in the West following a 2-1 success at Vityaz. Dinamo Minsk suffered a 0-6 loss at Sibir, Kunlun gave away a 2-0 lead at home to Neftekhimik and Traktor beat Avangard in overtime.
Two power play goals, and a third on a delayed penalty, cost Kunlun Red Star the chance to move into the playoff places in the Eastern Conference.
The host, looking to maintain its unbeaten record against Neftekhimik in China, had to kill four penalties in the first period before taking the lead through Brandon Yip’s fifth goal of the season. Olli Palola doubled the advantage early in the second but almost immediately Neftekhimik was on the power play again. This time, Pavel Kulikov found the way to unlock the home PK and get the visitor on the scoreboard at last.
Pavel Padakin tied the scores late in the middle frame before penalty trouble undid Red Star in the third. Mikael Ruohomaa’s power play strike in the 44th minute put Neftekhimik up for the first time in the game. Three minutes later, on a delayed penalty, the Finn turned provider as Marat Khairullin opened an unassailable 4-2 lead.
The teams at the bottom of the two conferences met in Siberia – but this game underlined how these strugglers are following different paths. Sibir shows signs of steady improvement after that 12-game losing streak at the start of the season; Dinamo slumped to a seventh successive loss.
The writing was on the wall for Gordie Dwyer’s team in the early stages. After 102 seconds, Sibir led 2-0 thanks to goals from Dmitry Sayustov and Pavel Tkachenko. Next, visiting D-man Oleg Yevenko was ejected from the game before Sibir added a third goal through Evgeny Bodrov, his first of the season.
In the middle frame, Sibir again scored three unanswered goals. Nikolai Demidov added a fourth, then there was a short-handed tally from Danil Romantsev – a sixth of the season for the youngster – and a power play marker from Alexander Loginov. At the other end, Dinamo was unable to find a way past Danny Taylor, who completed his second shut-out of the season with 32 saves.
Alexei Tertyshny picked up his second win as interim coach thanks to Polygalov’s double, but Demchenko also played a huge role as the visiting offense was frustrated throughout. Avangard led the shot count 45-10 in regulation, but had only a Kirill Petrov goal to show for it. Petrov scored on the wraparound in the third period, to tie the scores at 1-1.
Earlier, Polygalov had converted Jonas Enlund’s pass as Traktor staged a counter-attack in the second period. And the same player popped up to settle the issue in overtime. Traktor, under new management, shows signs of improvement; Avangard, after a blistering start to the season, might be slowing down a little.
Spartak and Slovan have been on opposing trajectories in recent weeks. For the Slovaks, a run of five straight wins lifted the team into the playoff places for the first time this season. For Spartak, meanwhile, four points from six games spelled the end of Vadim Yepanchintsev’s tenure as head coach. In his place came GM Alexei Zhamnov, who spent some time as an assistant coach with Yepanchintsev this time last year.
Zhamnov did not have long to wait to see his first goal in his new role. Dmitry Kalinin put Spartak in front in the fourth minute. But the floodgates refused to open: Slovan kept it tight throughout the first period and it wasn’t until midway through the game that Yaroslav Kosov gave the host a 2-0 cushion.
Slovan hit back to halve the deficit when Patrik Lamper scored late in the second period but the visitor was caught out twice in the closing minutes of the game. Anatoly Nikontsev and Martins Karsums added two late goals for Spartak. The Red-and-Whites move above Vityaz into sixth place in the West; Slovan slips to ninth after Dinamo Riga’s win.
Dinamo Riga edged ahead of Slovan to return to eighth place in the Western Conference thanks to a 2-1 win at Vityaz.
The Latvians are showing signs of shrugging off a long losing streak and today recorded a third win in four games. In-form defenseman Mathew Maione was prominent once again, producing two assists to take his points haul for the season to 23 (7+16).
Maione’s first contribution came on Dinamo’s first power play. Kevin Clark was the beneficiary, potting the opening goal in the 14th minute. In the second period, another Maione helper saw Lauris Darzins make it 2-0. Vityaz pulled one back through Miro Aaltonen’s power play effort midway through the game but the host could not force an equalizer.