SKA had eight players called into Russia’s squad for the upcoming Channel 1 Cup and its international roster duly celebrated with a 6-0 thrashing of Torpedo. Elsewhere, Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls Traktor and Neftekhimik closed in on the top eight with road wins at Avangard and Dinamo Minsk.
SKA powered to another emphatic victory – despite failing to score in the first period against Torpedo.
The home team dominated the opening frame, outshooting the visitor 14-5, but could not find a way past Stanislav Galimov. That all changed in the 23rd minute when Dinar Khafizullin broke the deadlock and the floodgates soon opened.
Maxim Karpov maintained his rich run of form with three points, taking his run to 19 (7+12) from his last 14 games. He started with an assist for Nikita Gusev, who also enjoyed a three-point game, scored SKA’s fourth of the game on a third-period power play, then had a helper as Jarno Koskiranta made it 5-0. Andrei Kuzmenko, one of the SKA men selected for international duty, and Alexei Byvaltsev completed the home scoring, Igor Shestyorkin stopped 24 shots for his fifth shut-out of the season.
A Paul Szczechura goal 33 seconds into overtime gave Traktor the verdict at Avangard and lifted the Chelyabinsk team to within one point of the playoff places.
However, Traktor was in danger of missing out on victory here after allowing the host back into the game. The visitor opened a 2-0 lead with Vitaly Kravtsov catching the eye. The youngster had an assist on Anton Glinkin’s first-period goal and went on to score one for himself in the second.
Belatedly, Avangard was sparked into life. It took just 33 seconds for Maxim Berezin to halve the deficit and Ilya Mikheyev made it 2-2 at the start of the third period. However, Bob Hartley’s team could not convert that momentum into a winning position and got caught out at the start of the extras.
Neftekhimik ended its five-game losing streak – but had to come from behind at struggling Dinamo Minsk before closing the gap on eighth-placed Red Star to two points.
The home team is struggling at the foot of the Western Conference but was lifted by its first win in four games last time out. Initially, the good news continued. Alexei Tereshchenko put Dinamo in front in the ninth minute and that lead endured until the end of an evenly-matched opening frame.
However, Neftekhimik stepped up a notch in the second session and got a reward when Damir Sharipzyanov tied the scores in the 34thminute. The third period began with a flurry of penalties and the teams were playing four-on-four when Juuso Puustinen potted the winner for Neftekhimik. Late in the game, Dinamo threw everything forward but could not find a way past Fyodor Korotayev, Neftekhimik’s young goalie.