Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Today’s action was not all about Vienna. In Khabarovsk, a mere 10,000km to the East, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov coached Ak Bars to victory for the 500th time. The day’s international flavor continued in Tallinn, Estonia, where Jokerit staged the first of two games this weekend and served up a thrilling 4-3 win over Spartak Moscow.

Landmark win for Bilyaletdinov

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 4 (1-0, 0-2, 1-2)

Zinetula Bilyaletdinov celebrated his 500th victory as head coach of Ak Bars as his team bounced back from its surprise defeat in Shanghai on Wednesday. The much-titled coach restored Vladislav Podyapolsky to the net after that 0-3 reverse against Red Star but still saw his team fall behind to a Danil Faizullin power play goal in the opening frame.

Photo: 26.10.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Amur (Khabarovsk) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

In truth, Amur looked closer to extending its lead than Ak Bars was to tying the game in that first period, but after the intermission the visitor began to take control of the game. Goals from Vladimir Tkachyov and Andrei Pedan put the defending champion ahead – the latter score awarded after a lengthly video review to confirm that Jiri Sekac did not kick the puck and that home goalie Evgeny Alikin was not obstructed. It was Pedan’s first goal since joining Ak Bars in the summer.

It was a lead that the visitor would not relinquish. Paul Postma added to his earlier assist to make it 3-1 before Faizulin’s second of the game kept Amur in contention. Rob Klinkhammer settled the issue with an empty net goal.

Torpedo edges Red Star

Kunlun Red Star 1 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 SO (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Torpedo’s games regularly go to overtime – the Nizhny Novgorod team has put in the extra shifts in eight out of 21games so far this season. However, this was the first time David Nemirovsky’s team had picked up a shoot-out victory.

Robert Sabolic, who had two goals in Wednesday’s defeat at Admiral, got the decisive goal in that duel, beating Barry Brust to register the only successful post-game attempt. That spoiled Brust’s home debut for Red Star; the experienced Canadian goalie had earlier pulled off an impressive save to deny Mikhail Varnakov in a game of few chances.

Torpedo took the lead early in the second period when Red Star’s defense broke down as it tried to clear its lines. Daniil Ilyin’s instant pass set up Dmitry Markovin for a one-on-one battle with Brust and the forward went top shelf to finish it. Red Star improved as the game progressed and tied it up when Martin St.Pierre fired past Stanislav Galimov in the visitor’s net. That means that the home team has taken at least one point from six of its last seven games, but it wasn’t enough to set up a fifth victory in that sequence.

Barys Astana 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 1 (1-1, 2-0, 0-0)

Finnish forward Miro Aaltonen potted his 10th goal of the season but it wasn’t enough to save Vityaz from defeat in Astana.

Aaltonen, back in the KHL after a season of AHL hockey, got the tying goal in this game, converting a power play late in the first period to cancel out Nikita Mikhailis’ opener. But Barys won it on the strength of second-period markers from Andre Petersson and Roman Starchenko. The latter also collected an assist to move to 21 points for the season.

The results makes it four wins in a row for Barys and lifts Kazakhstan’s team to fifth in the Eastern Conference, ahead of Metallurg Magnitogorsk and level on points with Salavat Yulaev.

Jokerit edges a thriller in Estonia

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Spartak Moscow 3 OT (1-3, 2-0, 0-0, 1-0)

The weekend’s other international engagement sees the Finns of Jokerit Helsinki make the short sea crossing to Tallinn. The Estonian capital has previously staged Dinamo Riga in the KHL, but this was the first time Jokerit had come to the Tondiraba Ice Hall.

In the early stages, the host seemed out of sorts. Spartak set a high tempo from the off and jumped to a 2-0 lead inside nine minutes. Ben Maxwell got the first, Andrei Kuteikin added a second with another powerful shot, albeit from well within the opposition half on this occasion. Brian O’Neill pulled one back for Jokerit on the power play, but Alexander Khokhlachyov quickly restored Spartak’s two-goal lead.

The game turned on two quick goals midway through the second period. John Norman reduced the deficit, getting the redirect on a Jesper Jensen point shot. Then Spartak took a penalty and Alex Grant’s slap shot rebounded off the boards for Jesse Joensuu to tie the game.

The home team seized the initiative, dominating the play thereafter. However, the third period was tighter with scoring chances at a premium for both teams. It all added up to overtime, and a winning goal from Steve Moses. The American forward was given plenty of space to explore in the Spartak zone and took full advantage, circling to the net and beating Nikita Bespalov with a backhanded finish.

Hersley wins the scorers’ shoot-out

Dinamo Riga 1 SKA St. Petersburg 2 (0-0, 1-1, 0-1)

This game was all set for a showdown between two defenseman. SKA’s Patrik Hersley arrived in Latvia with 24 points to his name but Dinamo’s Mathew Maione was one point ahead of him at the top of the KHL scoring chart. On the undercard, Linus Videll of the host was battling it out with the visitor’s Nikita Gusev just behind that pair of two-way blue liners.

With all that scoring potential on display, the first period still finished goalless. But the middle frame quickly delivered. Videll was the first to show, producing a poacher’s finish 23 seconds after the restart. The celebrations lasted just 37 seconds before Vladislav Gavrikov tied it up for SKA. The visitor went on to dominate play, but could not find a way past home goalie Timur Bilyalov before the second intermission.

Five minutes into the third period, we saw the game-winner. And it came from Hersley, off a Gusev feed. The Swedish D-man stepped up to the face-off circle and smashed home an unstoppable shot to end Bilyalov’s resistance and make it 2-1. The home goalie finished with 44 saves; SKA made off with both points.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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