Two Finns and one Tatar dominated the day’s action. Jokerit’s new signing Kristian Vesalainen marked his KHL debut with a goal in his team’s 4-1 win at Dinamo Minsk. In China, Palola scored twice in 15 seconds at the end of Red Star’s game with Sibir and snatched a 5-5 tie in regulation. Sibir still won it in a shoot-out and Shane Prince scored for the second game running. Danis Zaripov, meanwhile, secured the all-time record for appearances in top flight Russian championship play. He suited up for the 1,164th time to help Ak Bars beat Torpedo 5-1.
There was a sensational finish to regulation time in Shanghai as Red Star scored twice in the last 15 seconds to wipe out a 3-5 deficit and force the game into overtime. Olli Palola got both goals to complete a hat-trick and stun the visitor.
Earlier, Sibir jumped to a 5-1 lead at the 40-minute mark, chasing Barry Brust from the home net. Nikita Mikhailov scored two, ex-Red Star man Gilbert Brule had a goal and two assists. New signing Shane Prince followed up his debut goal with a 1+1 return. Sibir has now won its last five since losing 2-4 at home to Kunlun two weeks ago. And the excitement isn’t done: the teams meet again tomorrow.
His team mate’s rose to the occasion, making the day a celebration from start to finish with a comprehensive victory over Torpedo. With just 18 seconds played, Justin Azevedo put the home team in front and Ak Bars never looked back. Artyom Lukoyanov doubled the lead midway through the first period and the same players scored again in the middle frame. Rob Klinkhammer added a fifth midway through the game; Damir Zhafyarov got a consolation goal for Torpedo in the third.
The win moves Ak Bars to within four points of Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist. Torpedo stays sixth in the East but enjoys a comfortable 10-point cushion over ninth-placed Neftekhimik.
By the time the teams took to the ice, Neftekhimik knew it could draw level with eighth-placed Kunlun if it won this game. However, just as we saw in China earlier in the day, the home team scored late to force overtime but missed out in a shoot-out.
Unlike Red Star, Neftekhimik started its game fast. Rafael Bikmullin and Damir Musin opened a 2-0 lead inside five minutes. Lokomotiv, however, was not derailed. The visitor tied it up midway through the opening frame on goals from Maxim Afanasyev and Jakub Nakladal.
The second period was goalless, but Lokomotiv was getting on top and seemed to on the way to victory in regulation when Andrei Loktionov made it 3-2 in the 52nd minute. However, a late penalty on Stepan Sannikov presented Neftekhimik with one last chance and Juuso Puustinen tied the scores with 63 seconds left. That was as good as it got for the host, though: Nikolai Kovalenko and Staffan Kronwall were the only players to score in the shoot-out.
SKA’s bandwagon keeps on rolling and Vityaz was the latest team to be knocked flat. The Petersburg team has lost just two of its last 13 – both against CSKA – as it gives chase at the top of the Western Conference.
Today’s performance was emphatic: SKA topped the shot count at 44-21 and spent more than 17 minutes on the offense against a Vityaz team scrapping for points to stay in the playoff picture. Sergei Plotnikov had a hand in each of the first three goals, assisting for Viktor Tikhonov and Pavel Datsyuk in the first period before scoring one of his own in the second.
Andrei Kuzmenko matched that 1+2 return, while Alexander Barabanov went one better to finish with 1+3 after contributing to the last four goals of the evening. Vityaz struggled to test Magnus Hellberg all night and the loss leaves the team in ninth place, two adrift of the playoff places before Dinamo Riga’s game in Zurich later in the evening.
Dynamo’s steady improvement continues – this scoreline made it back-to-back shut-outs for the Blue-and-Whites and moved Vladimir Krikunov’s team to five wins in seven games as it climbed back into the playoff places.
After blanking Jokerit on Monday, Alexander Yeryomenko continued between the piping for the home team and he extended that shut-out streak with 23 saves. He was at his busiest in a goalless first period where he faced 12 attempts from Slovan.
The game changed early in the second when Ivan Igumnov opened the scoring for Dynamo. Vadim Shipachyov doubled the advantage with a power play goal late in the middle frame before he and line-mate Dmitry Kagarlitsky combined to set up Juuso Hietanen for the third.
Jokerit offered no consolation to struggling Dinamo Minsk, easing to a convincing win on the road in Belarus.
The opening exchanges were fiercely contested: Geoff Platt put Jokerit ahead against his former club but a minute later the scores were level when Dmitry Buinitsky struck for the host. However, Steve Moses restored Jokerit’s lead in the first period and the visitor never looked back.
The middle session saw two further goals for the Finns. Midway through the game, Kristian Vesalainen opened his KHL account with a power play goal. The Jets prospect, loaned to Jokerit for the rest of the season, smashed home a one-timer from the top of the circle after Sami Lepisto faked a shot and deceived the home defense. Jesse Joensuu completed the scoring soon after.