Two high-flyers clawed back two-goal deficits to pick up wins at opponents battling for playoff places. Avtomobilist went 0-2 down at home to Kunlun before winning 5-3, then Jokerit retrieved a 1-3 scoreline to win at Severstal. CSKA goalie Ilya Sorokin got his sixth shut-out of the season in a 3-0 win over Salavat Yulaev.
Avtomobilist had to come from 0-2 down to defeat a Red Star team with just five recognized defensemen.
The visitor scored twice in two first-period minutes through Veli-Matti Savinainen and Patrik Lundh to surprise the Eastern Conference leader. At the other end, debutant goalie Tomi Karhunen was enjoying his return to the club as he kept Avto’s potent offense at bay and a shock result was in the offing.
It all changed in the middle frame. Avto solved Karhunen, firing in three unanswered goals to take the lead. Anatoly Golyshev, Francis Pare and Maxim Rasseikin did the damage. Kunlun responded to tie the game in the 54th minute through Tomas Mertl, but a power play chance saw the host back in front thanks to Stepan Khripunov. Stephane Da Costa’s empty net goal sealed the deal.
Salavat Yulaev’s problems in front of goal returned as the Ufa team was blanked once again. CSKA goalie Ilya Sorokin made 27 saves to give the Army Men an 18th consecutive victory. That was the goalie’s sixth shut-out of the season.
For Salavat, though, this was the fifth time in the last six defeats that the team had failed to score. That run, admittedly, has been interrupted by big-scoring successes against Dinamo Minsk, Slovan and Dinamo Riga but today’s game suggested once again that the men in green are struggling to find answers against table-topping defenses.
CSKA, though, has no such worries. The host had the better of a scoreless first period and never looked back after taking the lead through a 28th-minute power play goal from Greg Scott. The third period brought two more tallies as Konstantin Okulov and Linden Vey extended CSKA’s lead. Salavat Yulaev did get the puck in the net late on, but an offside verdict cancelled out the goal.
Severstal missed out on a second successive victory after allowing Jokerit to recover from 1-3 to win this one.
The Finns were on top in the first period but couldn’t force a way through the Severstal defense until Alex Grant’s 25th-minute strike broke the deadlock. Instead of consolidating, though, Jokerit hit the self-destruct button. An immediate power play for the host brought a tying goal for Ilya Khokhlov; a passage of four-on-four play saw Khokhlov turn provider for Yury Trubachyov’s goal. Then Khokhlov struck again to open a two-goal lead.
Severstal scored three goals in eight minutes and that demanded an instant response. Sakari Manninen provided it, reducing the deficit just 50 seconds later. Then, in the last 10 minutes, Jokerit completed the turnaround with goals from Brian O’Neill and Jesse Joensuu.