The big games in the Eastern Conference were both decided by solitary goals as Ak Bars and Avangard earned 1-0 road wins at Sibir and Salavat Yulaev respectively. In Helsinki, though, the home forwards enjoyed themselves in a 7-3 win over Dinamo Riga. Spartak beat Dynamo 4-2 in the Moscow derby with help from a few ex-Dynamo players but Dinamo Minsk slipped to a club record ninth successive loss.
Admiral snapped a nine-game losing run, dating back to September 28, with a 4-1 victory at home to Neftekhimik. But the success owed much to a record-breaking performance from goalie Nikita Serebryakov and some clinical finishing.
For Neftekhimik, it was a frustrating day. In the first period, the visitor outshot Admiral 23-3 – and went to the intermission 1-0 down thanks to an Alexander Ugolnikov power play goal. In the second period, the shot count was 17-4 in Neftekhimik’s favor, but there was no further scoring. Bogdan Yakimov tied it up at the start of the first, but Admiral’s shot-shy forwards produced an unexpectedly conclusive response: Vladimir Butuzov and Kirill Voronin scored two goals in 10 seconds to open a 3-1 lead. At that stage, Admiral had scored with 30% of its shots on Ilya Ezhov.
Butuzov added a fourth goal into the empty net, but Serebryakov was the real hero. Neftekhimik had more than 100 attempts on his net, and put 58 of them on target. The goalie’s 57 saves outstripped his previous best of 43 in Vladivostok to set a new club record.
Torpedo is always a good bet for a tie in 60 minutes: in October alone, six of its games have gone to overtime and the team has played an extra 22 minutes. However, in recent games the final verdict was not going the way of the Nizhny Novgorod team: six successive losses, albeit with five points collected, pushed the club down the Eastern Conference table.
In Khabarovsk the losing streak came to an end – but not until the 63rd minute. Anton Shenfeld was the key man, opening the scoring for the visitor in the second minute and bringing the game to a belated conclusion with the overtime winner. Those were only his second and third goals of the season, but he also produced a reminder of his status as the leading provider of assists at Torpedo with a helper on Damir Zhafyarov’s marker late in the second period.
Zhafyarov’s goal made it 2-3 after Amur threatened to take control after tallies from Vladislav Ushenin, Pavel Dedunov and Alexander Kuznetsov. But it wasn’t until 58 minutes that a Dmitry Semin goal saved Torpedo from defeat in regulation. The now-familiar extras went the visitor’s way; seventh-placed Torpedo has a cushion in the race for the playoff places.
Dinamo Minsk lost for the ninth game in a row, setting a new club record along the way. The writing was on the wall for the visitor here in the first period, with Barys dominating play and allowing just three shots on its own net – and that pattern of play didn’t vary much for the rest of the game.
In the middle frame, Barys got the goals it had threatened. Dmitry Shevchenko beat Jhonas Enroth from close range midway through the game and a few minutes later Andre Petersson extended the lead as the host enjoyed a five-on-three power play. Enroth was replaced with Mikhail Karnaukhov and, for a time, Dinamo’s fortunes improved. The start of the third period brought a goal for Denis Osipov, helped by a fortunate bounce of the puck. There would be no revival, though. Dustin Boyd scored on the power play in the 48th minute – the first goal he consciously put away since returning to Barys (his first credited goal was the bizarre Avangard own goal a couple of weeks ago) to secure the home win.
A solitary goal midway through the final period decided this game. For Ak Bars, the win meant a measure of security in third place in East; for Sibir, this was another encouraging performance in the basement club’s steady revival.
It was largely a tale of two goalies. Vladislav Podyapolsky returned for Ak Bars as Zinetula Bilyaletdinov continues to rotate his netminders. Podyapolsky last outing came in a 2-0 victory over Severstal and today he extended his shut-out streak to 123 minutes. His opposite number, Danny Taylor, enjoyed his first shut-out of the season in Sibir’s previous game and was not beaten until well into the third period here.
The winning goal came on the power play. Jiri Sekac fed Paul Postma at the point, the defenseman thumped in a shot and Rob Klinkhammer applied the redirect. And that was enough to decide the game with Ak Bars effectively closing out the closing minutes to collect the points.
Earlier this month, these two teams met in Ufa and only Juha Metsola stood between Salavat Yulaev and defeat. An astonishing display from the Finn saw him turn away 63 shots in a 3-2 win – a KHL record for saves in regulation time.
Today, Metsola threatened to do it again. He made another 42 saves as the game went into overtime but Evgeny Medvedev finally solved the home goalie in the 64th minute. That was enough to give Avangard a much-needed victory: despite topping the Chernyshev Division, the Omsk team had just one win in six coming into the game and was in danger of being caught by today’s opponent. Salavat Yulaev had its own chances to win it, but Igor Bobkov stood firm for his third shut-out of the season – with one notable save to deny Linus Omark along the way.
It took some time for Jokerit to get its offense moving in this game, but by the end the Finns were flying. Two goals apiece for Sakari Manninen and Niklas Jensen led the way; Manninen also had two assists to crown an individual triumph.
But Dinamo, enjoying a run of three wins from four coming into this game, could well have tripped up Jokerit here. The visitor took the lead with a well-worked goal from Gints Meija early in the game. Jensen quickly tied that up, but in the 35th minute the visitor scored again to go 2-1 up through Vitalijs Pavlovs. Jokerit’s response was swift and powerful: Alex Grant tied the scores and Manninen made it 3-2 just before the second intermission.
Jensen’s second followed a John Norman goal as Jokerit took control in the third. Lauris Darzins gave Riga a glimmer of hope when he made it 3-5, but Marko Anttila found the empty net before Manninen rounded off the scoring in the last minute.
Two former Dynamo players returned to haunt their old club as Spartak won the latest Moscow derby of the season.
Both teams have had their problems this season and both have changed head coaches. For a time it looked like Vladimir Krikunov might lead Dynamo to victory, but a third-period recovery saw Alexei Zhamnov record his second successive victory behind the bench for the Red-and-Whites.
The decisive goals came late in the game. First Andrei Kuteikin – once feted by Dynamo fans for his red line goals in playoff outings – repeated that stunt to give Spartak a 3-2 lead against his former club in the 55th minute. It was the first time the home team had led all night, and the visiting fans suffered another blow two minutes later when Kaspars Daugavins, another ex-Dynamo man, added a fourth to make the game safe.
Earlier, Dynamo had led twice through Miika Koivisto and Vladimir Bryukvin. But Spartak replied twice, with assists from another Blue-and-White old boys, Martins Karsums, helping Nikita Filatov and Alexander Khokhlachyov find the net. There was also time for a fight between Ilya Nikulin and Mikhail Grigoryev – what local derby would be complete without a few punches thrown? - but not for Dynamo to close the gap to the playoff places.
Slovan missed a chance to return to the playoff places as it slipped to defeat at fifth-placed Sochi.
The visitor took the lead in the third minute thanks to Chad Rau, but was behind midway through the first period after Sochi responded quickly through Eric O’Dell and Denis Mosalyov. After a goalless middle frame, O’Dell got his second of the game to have Sochi in control. The final minute brought a flurry of action as Patrik Lamper pulled a goal back for Slovan after a passage of 6-on-4 play. His efforts were in vain, though, and Stanislav Bocharov confirmed the result with an empty-net goal.
After five straight wins lifted Slovan to eighth in the West, back-to-back defeats has pushed the men from Bratislava back to ninth. The club’s next two games will be staged in Vienna as part of the KHL World Games and Vladimir Orszagh will be hoping that the Austrian capital can inspire his team to return to the playoff spots.