SKA’s 2-0 victory over Dynamo Moscow was achieved with a more impressive performance than the result suggested. In the Eastern Conference, leader Avtomobilist defeated Spartak and Nigel Dawes scored his 19th goal of the season to move clear as the leading point and goalscorer. Avangard snapped its losing run with a fightback win at Metallurg while Ak Bars added to Dinamo Riga’s problems with a 3-1 win in Latvia.
A late goal from Tomas Zohorna earned Amur the win over Barys as the Kazakhs missed the chance to go top of the Chernyshev Division.
Victory for Barys here would have put it ahead of Avangard prior to the game in Magnitogorsk later in the day, and Curtis Valk gave the visitor the perfect start when he opened the scoring on 3:33.
Amur hit back with a goal from the first power play of the day – Zohorna with the assist, Igor Rudenkov putting the puck in the net. Barys dominated much of the play, and home goalie Evgeny Alikin made 37 saves, but Zohorna cashed in on a goaltending error two minutes before the end to win it for Amur.
Avtomobilist’s recent wobble is looking like a thing of the past. The Eastern Conference leader made it five wins from six with a comfortable verdict over Spartak. Avto has also scored 21 in its last four games, reasserting its status at the top of the table.
Returning to the ice just a day after defeating Kunlun Red Star, the host was unable to make a breakthrough in a goalless first period. However, the first penalty of the game changed all that and Alexei Vasilevsky took advantage to open the scoring in the 27th minute. Spartak replied with a power play goal of its own from Ilya Zubov but parity was short-lived. Francis Pare restored the home lead within 90 seconds and there was no coming back for the visitor.
Avangard moved three points clear of Barys at the top of the Chernyshev Division, but only after coming from 0-2 down to defeat Metallurg.
After a scoreless opening session, the second period took flight. Magnitka snaffled two goals in barely 30 seconds. Maksim Matushkin, Metallurg’s Russian-Swedish dual national, potted the first; Sergei Mozyakin quickly added another on the power play.
But Avangard, beaten in its previous three games, took the blow and recovered at the end of the frame. Max Talbot halved the deficit in the 38th minute when he reacted to the rebound from a Nikita Pivtsakin shot and Ville Pokka tied the scores 11 seconds before the interval. Early in the third period, Kirill Petrov scored a fine goal, circling out from behind the net to shoot home and end Avangard’s run of losses.
Torpedo’s revival continued with victory against its Volga river rival. The win makes it three in a row for David Nemirovski’s men, banishing memories of a four-game losing streak prior to a much-needed success in Minsk on December 6.
This time, Torpedo needed patience to put away Loko. Damir Zhafyarov’s scored early but his seventh goal in seven games was quickly cancelled out by Nikolai Averin, and Andy Miele made it 2-1 only for Denis Alexeyev to tie it up again early in the second period.
It wasn’t until late in the middle frame that we had a decisive breakthrough. Robert Sabolic made it 3-2 in the 38th minute and this time Lokomotiv could not find a response. Instead, Andrew Calof’s empty net goal secured the verdict for the home team.
Neftekhimik got a victory that kickstarts its playoff push – but the Eastern Conference hopeful had to withstand a big Sochi fightback before leaving with the points.
An alarming run of one win in eight games had seen Neftekhimik drop behind Red Star and Traktor in the race for the top eight. Here, though, Andrei Nazarov’s team made a bright start and went in front when Juuso Puustinen got the redirect on an Adam Polasek shot midway through the first period.
The middle session was even better for the visitor, with Damir Sharipzyanov and Marat Khairullin extending the lead to 3-0. Andrej Nestrasil assisted on both plays. Belatedly, Sochi stirred. Vladislav Kaletnik’s goal early in the third gave the host hope, Jyrki Jokipakka made it 2-3 with a minute to play. But Neftekhimik held on and is now just one point behind its playoff rivals.
SKA eased to victory over Dynamo Moscow with a performance that more impressive that the final scoreline might suggest.
On paper, a two-goal margin clinched with an empty net goal 26 seconds from time might seem like a close game. In reality, SKA was always one step ahead of the host. The visitor spent more than 15 minutes on the attack and the shot count was 43-22 in SKA’s favor. Dynamo goalie Ivan Bocharov made 41 saves to keep his team in with a chance.
However, the Petersburg team struggled to turn its opportunities into goals. An early power play marker from Vasily Tokranov put the visitor ahead in the eighth minute. Subsequently, SKA went close again: a disallowed goal early in the second, an Alexei Byvaltsev effort off the post, several big saves from Bocharov. Dynamo’s cause wasn’t helped when head coach Vladimir Krikunov took a stray puck to the head and had to leave the bench for a couple of minutes in the first period. He was back in place long before SKA finally made the game safe when Pavel Datsyuk scored that empty-netter.
Vityaz moved up to seventh thanks to a narrow win in Belarus. Valery Belov’s team is level on points with Dynamo Moscow but has more victories in regulation time.
The only goal came midway through the first period when Alexander Shevchenko put Vityaz in front. Visiting goalie Joni Ortio got an assist on that play and was instrumental at the other end as he made 25 saves to secure the shut-out. The goalie will join his Finnish colleagues on a high after a game-winning performance in his last game before the international break.
Quinton Howden and Andrei Kostitsyn were the liveliest of the home forwards, both firing in four shots at Ortio. However, even as the pressure intensified in the third period, the Finn stood firm to frustrate Dinamo. Minsk slipped to a third successive loss and remains bottom of the Western Conference.
Dinamo Riga’s playoff hopes are in need of a serious boost. Today’s game made it seven losses in a row for the Latvians, who now find themselves five points adrift of eighth-placed Dynamo Moscow.
Scoring goals has been at the heart of Dinamo’s recent problems: in those seven losses the team has never managed more than two in a game, with two blanks along the way. Today’s outing reinforced the point: 33 shots on target, but just one Lauris Darzins effort got past Emil Garipov. Ak Bars was outshot, but took its chances far more effectively.
Vladimir Tkachyov got the opener in the fifth minute despite Dinamo enjoying the better of the play in the first period. The home team got a reward when Darzins converted a power play to tie the scores in the second but Ak Bars was back ahead late in the frame through Jiri Sekac. The Czech picked up a his second of the game in the 45th minute to put it beyond Riga’s reach.