Nizhny Novgorod (17:00)
Defenseman Kevin Dallman is one of the KHL’s most loyal servants, having played in every season since the league was formed. Today he became the first import to feature in 600 games, and Barys duly delivered a win at Jokerit. Still on the Baltic, Dinamo Riga defeated Avangard 2-0 to warm up for its trip to Zurich next week. Admiral enjoyed its biggest win of a difficult season, Spartak had a second successive shut-out at Kunlun Red Star and Vityaz snatched a vital win at Slovan after trailing 0-2.
Admiral recorded its biggest win of the season in this clash of two struggling teams. The Sailors snapped an eight-game losing streak but remain rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference. Dinamo, beaten heavily in Shanghai in midweek, are tied with Severstal in the Western basement.
The first period offered little hint of what was to follow. The teams were evenly matched and traded quick goals late in the frame. Alexander Mereskin put the host in front, only for Dmitry Buinitsky to reply 30 seconds later.
The middle stanza turned the game decisively in Admiral’s favor. Three goals in five minutes saw Vasily Streltsov, Alexander Chernikov and Vojtech Polak give the host a commanding lead. There was no way back for Dinamo and a late marker from Gleb Zaitsev confirmed the win.
The long trip from Moscow to the Far East doesn’t seem to have hurt Spartak’s defense – for the second game running the Red-and-Whites completed a shut-out. Nikita Bespalov claimed the plaudits, making 27 saves, and this time the goalie finished on the winning team after a shoot-out defeat in Khabarovsk on Wednesday.
Spartak got the verdict in a tight game thanks to a first-period power play goal from Ilya Zubov and an empty-netter from Artyom Fyodorov. The latter claimed his second goal in three games for his new club since joining from Salavat Yulaev in a recent trade that sent Nikita Filatov back to Ufa.
For Red Star, it was a day of frustration. Victory would have given Jussi Tapola’s team a two-point advantage over Neftekhimik in the race for the top eight, but an inability to convert its chances left the Chinese team to reflect on the end of its two-game winning streak.
Kevin Dallman has played in the KHL from the very start. He joined Barys in the league’s first season back in 2008 and has stayed ever since, dividing his time between Kazakhstan and a two-year stint at SKA. In that time, the Canadian-born defenseman has been a prolific scorer from the blue line, an All-Star regular and, as of today, the first import to appear in 600 KHL games.
That landmark was a victorious one, thanks in no small part to the performance of Dominik Hrachovina between the piping. The Czech stopper made 47 saves to frustrate Jokerit as the host struggled to turn its dominance of the game into goals on the scoreboard. That task became even more urgent after Barys snatched the lead in the 22nd minute. Alikhan Asetov went clean through on the net and produced a superb finish to beat Ryan Zapolski.
Hrachovina was proving a tough nut to crack and it wasn’t until the 50th minute that Jokerit’s pressure finally paid off. In form forward Brian O’Neill got the tying goal, smashing home a John Norman pass for his seventh point in four games. That took us to overtime and the game was finally resolved in a shoot-out with Darren Dietz claiming the game-winning shot.
Dinamo Riga warmed up for Monday’s KHL World Games action in Zurich with a valuable victory at home to Avangard. The Latvians halted a two-game losing streak to open a five-point gap over ninth-placed Dynamo Moscow and tighten their grip on a playoff place.
Timur Bilyalov was the key man, collecting only his second career shut-out in the KHL after making 34 saves to deny Avangard. It was only the third time in 31 games that Bob Hartley’s team had failed to score.
At the other end, Brandon McMillan put Dinamo in front midway through the game. The Canadian forward’s season has been disrupted by injury and this was his first goal since Sep. 4. In the third period, the host made the game safe thanks to a power play goal from Mikelis Redlihs and an empty-netter from Andris Dzerins.
Vityaz came from behind to secure a vital victory in its playoff push. Two goals in five minutes late in the game turned this one around and denied the Slovaks a chance to push themselves right back into the race for the top eight.
It all started so well for Slovan. Goals from Mario Lunter and Casey Bailey – the latter potting his first in the KHL – opened a 2-0 lead and seemed to have the home team well placed to move within two points of eighth-placed Vityaz.
Vityaz was unwilling to give up, though. Borna Rendulic reduced the arrears in the 49th minute, then Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi tied it up with just over five minutes to play. Then came the decisive moment with just 20 seconds left on the clock. Alexei Makeyev took the puck around the back, Alexander Nikulin fired narrowly wide when well placed. But the forward showed great presence of mind to chase the puck down against the boards and play it out to Rendulic between the hash marks. The Croatian international took his chance, breaking Slovan hearts and sending Vityaz home happy. The Moscow Region team can now rest on a three-point cushion ahead of Dynamo Moscow; Slovan has more ground to make up.