Avtomobilist collected its 21st win of the season with a 5-3 success at home to Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Nick Shore’s first KHL goal could not save the visitor from defeat. Czech international Alexander Salak’s shut-out helped Lokomotiv edge Traktor in overtime, while struggling Dynamo Moscow enjoyed an emphatic win at Sochi.
Throughout this season, Avtomobilist’s forwards have been in impressive form in front of the net. Clinical finishing has been a characteristic of the league leader’s game, and today’s victory over Metallurg was no exception. The visitor outshot Avto 46-17 but slipped to defeat.
The first period saw the home team jump to a 3-0 lead. There was an element of fortune about the first, Andrei Obidin’s shot from a tight angle squeezing into the net off Vasily Koshechkin’s pad. Further tallies from Vyacheslav Litovchenko and Georgy Belousov saw Koshechkin’s evening come to an early end as the leader took control.
After that opening session, Metallurg pushed everything into the offense. Over the next two periods, it outshot Avtomobilist 30-4. However, the visitor could only take one in 10 of those chances; Avtomobilist scored twice from four attempts. There was a first KHL goal for Magnitka’s recent signing Nick Shore and in the third period Iiro Pakarinen and Andrei Chibisov twice made it a one-goal game. However, Stephane Da Costa added a fourth for the host and Yegor Milovzorov marked his 500th KHL appearance with an empty net goal to wrap up Avto’s 21st win of the season.
Dynamo Moscow picked up a much-needed victory to close the gap on the playoff pack. The Blue-and-Whites were on a miserable run of one win in five games as they headed to the Black Sea, but the coastal air brought some respite for Vladimir Krikunov’s men.
Two goals in 40 seconds early in the game set the tone. Miks Indrasis opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Dmitry Kagarlitsky followed up with his first of the night. Early in the second period, Kagarlitsky got his second. Next, Vladimir Bryukvin scored on the power play – Indrasis among the assists – to keep the visitor on top.
Sochi got a goal back through Eric O’Dell late in the middle frame, but any hopes of an unlikely comeback were quashed when Vyacheslav Kulyomin got his first since joining Dynamo late last month to make it 5-1.
Fit again Alexander Salak returned to the Lokomotiv net for his first game since September 20 – and duly produced a big performance to blank Traktor. The experienced replaced Ilya Konovalov and made 19 saves as Loko edged to victory.
The winning goal came from Petri Kontiola, a former Traktor favorite. The Finn scored on the power play in the third minute of overtime as Loko moves on to eight wins in nine games and stands third in the Western Conference. The Yaroslavl team actually has the second-best points tally, but sits behind Bobrov Division leader Jokerit.
For Traktor, the problems continue. Five points from three games following the departure of head coach German Titov had the Chelyabinsk team moving towards the playoff places, but two successive defeats on this road trip – and not a goal scored in 123 minutes of play – highlight the difficulties around the club. To make matters worse, Swedish forward Alexander Bergstrom joins Richard Gynge and Artyom Penkovsky on the injured list. Bergstrom is expected to miss the next month.