The Western Conference leaders followed up their big wins in Vienna with home victories against Eastern Conference outsiders. SKA despatched Kunlun Red Star 5-1 but failed to gain ground on CSKA, which downed Sibir 4-2. Dinamo Riga got an important victory over Severstal in the race for the playoffs, Barys made it six in a row and Traktor eased past Spartak.
Brandon Bochenski and Dominik Hrachovina were the key men for Barys as the team recorded its sixth successive victory. Bochenski scored twice, while Hrachovina made 29 saves to post his first KHL shut-out.
Barys was dominant throughout this game and deservedly took the lead in the first period when Bochenski followed up to convert the rebound from his own shot. The middle frame continued in similar vein, but visiting goalie Nikita Serebryakov performed strongly to keep Admiral in contention. He made 20 saves and the session finished without any change to the scoreline.
In the final period, Bochenski scored his second on an early power play, wrapping up a neat move involving Dustin Boyd. That was the end of the scoring; the home team’s latest success moves it to fourth in the Eastern Conference and just two points behind Chernyshev Division leader Avangard.
Traktor began the evening with a ceremony in honor of Gennady Ikonnikov, a legend of Chelyabinsk hockey. And that seemed to inspire the home team in a first period where everything went right.
Three unanswered goals from Alexander Rybakov, Igor Polygalov and Ryan Stoa – all three of them once Spartak players – put Traktor in control. Visiting goalie Julius Hudacek did not return after the interval: two of the three came following rebounds.
The visitor reduced the deficit on a goal from Anatoly Nikontsev in the 27th minute, but it wasn’t long before Traktor restored its three-goal lead. Anton Glinkin potted the second power play goal of the night for the host and established the final score before the midway point of the game.
SKA recorded a second successive big win – and once again the Army Men ran away with the game in the third period.
For 40 minutes, this game was deadlocked. Red Star stunned its host by snatching the lead after 70 seconds when Tomas Mertl got to the rebound from a Victor Bartley shot. That ushered in a courageous performance from the visitor as Kunlun got bodies behind the puck in a bid to defend its lead. SKA tied the game in the 15th minute through Alexander Barabanov, but could not force another breakthrough despite dominating the middle session.
Barry Brust, who made his Red Star debut in a shock win at CSKA, was in impressive form in that second period. He made 15 saves to frustrate the home offense. But in the end, the pressure was too great. Early in the final stanza, Maxim Karpov made it 2-1 to SKA and after that the host won at a canter. Dinar Khafizullin’s power play goal extended the lead before Andrei Kuzmenko put the game beyond reach. Barabanov’s second of the game made it three in the last eight minutes for SKA, applying some gloss to the final scoreline. He and Kuzmenko picked up three points apiece in the game, showing a promising partnership.
Konstantin Okulov scored twice against his former club to lead CSKA to victory against the Eastern Conference struggler.
Okulov’s pair in the third period ensured a confident finish from CSKA, which remains top of the West ahead of SKA, but the early part of the game was rather more challenging for the host. Home dominance in the early stages produced some impressive stats but counted for little when a rare Sibir attack saw Dmitry Sayustov open the scoring in the 12th minute.
CSKA continued to dictate the tempo of the game and got its reward just before the midway mark. Two goals in 25 seconds from Anton Slepyshev and Klas Dahlback turned the game around. Both goals were aided by fortunate bounces and Sibir never really recovered from that abrupt turn of good luck into bad. Okulov scored early and late in the third; Vladimir Peshekhonov got a last-minute consolation goal for Sibir, scoring with only his team’s second shot on target in the third period.
Dinamo Riga strengthened its position in the Western Conference playoff race thanks to two goals from Lauris Darzins. Victory for Severstal would have moved the Steelmen level on points with Dinamo and created a four-way tie on 19 points. Instead, the Latvians moved two points clear of the immediate battle ground after its first win in three games.
With so much at stake for both teams, the first period did not produce many clear cut chances. However, it was evident that Dinamo had the edge and it felt like only a matter of time before the home fans had something to cheer. Sure enough, midway through the game, Darzins opened the scoring when he followed up after a Mikelis Redlihs rush was halted before he could get his shot away.
The third period saw another Darzins goal, this time on the power play. Mathew Maione got his second assist of the game on that one, taking his tally to 27 points for the season. A satisfactory evening for the host was rounded off late on with an empty net goal from Matias Myttynen. Timur Bilyalov made 23 saves for his shut-out.