Victory over SKA in Saturday’s big game lifted CSKA to the KHL summit. Previous leader Avtomobilist lost out at home to defending champion Ak Bars in the top clash in the Eastern Conference. Elsewhere, Metallurg edged Neftekhimik in overtime and there were road wins for Torpedo and Dynamo Moscow.
Avtomobilist handed a debut to new goalie Andrei Makarov but still suffered a fourth loss in five games as Ak Bars came from behind to win.
After a goalless opening stanza, the home team led twice in the second frame, recovering from an early Jiri Sekac goal to score three thanks to Dan Sexton, Yefim Gurkin and Nigel Dawes. Paul Postma got a second goal for Ak Bars to keep the visitor in touch.
Then came two goals in three minutes midway through the final session. Sekac tied the game off an Andrei Markov feed from behind the net. Dawes took a penalty, and the power play saw Rob Klinkhammer fire home the winner from close range as Danis Zaripov collected his third assist of the evening.
Magnitka’s Czech center opened the scoring in the third minute, deflecting Alexei Bereglazov’s shot into the net as he stood with his back to the target. The home team had to withstand some intense pressure after that but held its lead until the interval and added a second right after the restart when Viktor Antipin fired past the unsighted Fyodor Korotayev.
Neftekhimik rallied. Emil Galimov scored on the power play then Ilya Arkalov tied it up inside 24 minutes. However, Metallurg quelled the storm and got back in front three minutes before the hooter when a long spell of pressure resulted in Nick Shore firing in a point shot that dropped perfectly onto Bulir’s stick. The lead was short-lived, however: Joonas Nattinen tied the scores as he cashed in on a defensive glitch.
After all that excitement, the third period produced few chances and no goals, although Bulir might have won it in the last minute when Shore’s work behind the net presented him with a glorious chance for a hat-trick. Instead, we had overtime, and Ellison potted a power play goal to decided the outcome.
This game hung on a single power play. Traktor’s Alexei Petrov took a 5+game for slew footing midway through the second period and while Andrei Yerofeyev sat in the sin bin, Torpedo turned a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Swedish defenseman Philip Holm scored two of them and assisted on Andrew Calof’s effort as the visitor turned the game on its head.
Prior to that, Traktor had looked impressive. The home team had the better of the first period and entered the intermission in front thanks to Nick Bailen’s goal. Traktor’s dominance earned a further reward early in the second when another Bailen shot was pushed into the danger zone for Ryan Stoa to snaffle the rebound.
But Petrov’s indiscretion, kicking away Calof’s standing leg as he took up a position in the slot, put Torpedo in the ascendancy. Once ahead, the visitor would not be caught. Calof extended the lead with 10 minutes to play, Yerofeyev pulled one back for Traktor and Andy Miele had the final say with an empty-net goal in the last second.
Ilya Nikulin scored twice to give Dynamo a much-needed win at Severstal and bring the Blue-and-Whites back into the playoff picture. The Muscovites are now just one point behind eighth-placed Vityaz while Severstal remains bottom of the Western Conference after a fifth straight defeat.
Both Nikulin’s goals came during 5-on-3 power plays. The first, in the 28th minute, was assisted by Vadim Shipachyov, once a Severstal favorite before his move to SKA led to greater fame. His second, with 10 minutes to play, also involved a popular former Cherepovets man as Dmitry Kagarlitsky provided the assist to collect his 28th point of the season.
In between unwelcome contributions from former players, Severstal managed to tie the scores thanks to Matej Stransky’s goal in the 34th minute. But the home team always struggled to work Ivan Bocharov in the Dynamo net and could not build on that effort.
The game of the day saw CSKA beat SKA for the third time this season and repeat the 3-1 scoreline it enjoyed three weeks ago when the teams last met.
There was even a similar pattern to the two games. On November 5, SKA took an early lead and today Nikolai Prokhorkin repeated that trick when he scored on his former club in the eighth minute. For a time, the earlier script was abandoned: in the first game, CSKA quickly got back in control of the game; this time, the home team was limited to just three shots in the first period.
The Muscovites brought more menace in the middle session but took their time over solving Igor Shestyorkin in the SKA net. Finally, 45 seconds before the intermission, Anton Slepyshev tied the game with a fine backhand finish. The winner came early in the third, albeit in unlikely circumstances. SKA was on the power play and pushing to retake the lead when Mikhail Grigorenko won possession from Andrei Kuzmenko on the boards and streaked away to score on Shestyorkin.
SKA came close to tying it up again in the closing stages when Anton Belov’s shot was blocked and Maxim Karpov was a whisker away from getting on the rebound but CSKA made the game safe thanks to Ivan Telegin’s empty net goal.
The win moves CSKA ahead of Avtomobilist in the KHL overall standings and opens a five-point gap between these two Western Conference rivals as they prepare to play in next week’s KHL World Games in Zurich.