The big game in the Eastern Conference saw Ak Bars move within two points of leader Avtomobilist thanks to a 3-1 win. Elsewhere, it was a big day for imports: Metallurg defeated Torpedo thanks to goals from Matt Ellison, Nick Shore and Dennis Rasmussen while Red Star snapped its losing streak thanks to three quick goals from its Finnish contingent. Traktor kept pace with the race for the playoffs in the East thanks to a superb display from goalie Vasily Demchenko and Avangard rounded off the last game of the day with victory over Jokerit.
A three-goal blast late in the second period decided this game in favor of the home team and kept Red Star in the playoff places ahead of Traktor. The result snapped the Chinese team’s five-game losing streak.
Until the 37th minute, the game was fairly even but Kunlun’s Finnish contingent produced a sudden flourish to change the course of the encounter. First, Olli Palola produced a neat backhand finish to slot home the rebound from an Oskars Bartulis shot. Then came two goals in a minute, with Ville Lajunen converting a power play chance before Joonas Jarvinen fired home his first of the season to make it 3-0.
Amur allowed three goals in 107 seconds and never recovered. The only consolation came late on when new arrival Marek Hrbas marked his debut with an assist on Kirill Rasskazov’s late tally for the visitor.
Traktor remains hard on Kunlun’s heels in the race for the top eight after edging a tight game at 10th-placed Neftekhimik.
The home team dominated much of the play, and the shot count finished 37-9 in Neftekhimik’s favor. However, there was no way past Vasily Demchenko in the visitor’s goal. At the other end, Traktor struck early through Nikita Nikitin in the sixth minute and subsequently almost disappeared as an offensive force. In the second and third periods the Chelyabinsk team managed just three shots on Fyodor Korotayev.
Traktor recorded its fifth win in six games to remain level on points with Red Star in ninth place. Neftekhimik has now lost five of its last seven and is three points further back.
Avtomobilist remains top of the Eastern Conference, but its lead is down to just two points after this loss at the defending champion.
The leader struck first with Nigel Dawes potting a power play chance in the fourth minute. That made Dawes the first player to reach 50 points and 20 goals this season. That was as good as it got for Avtomobilist, though. Justin Azevedo responded with a power play goal at the other end midway through the first period and gradually Ak Bars assumed control.
Ilya Mikheyev was the game winner with two goals. He put the host in front after 26 minutes and extended that early in the third period. Emil Garipov saw out the game calmly as Avto dropped its first game in five.
The third meeting between these teams this season produced another close game before Magnitka picked up its second victory over Torpedo. The visitor’s imports made the difference in an entertaining battle.
Torpedo got the opening goal of the night – and it was one to remember as Danil Veryayev rushed down the middle and put an unstoppable shot past Vasily Koshechkin. However, Metallurg tied the scores in the first period thanks to a power play goal from Matt Ellison.
The second period saw the visitor get in front for the first time. Nick Shore reacted fastest to the rebound after a Michal Bulir attempt and Metallurg took the lead into the second intermission. Early in the third, Dennis Rasmussen added a third and, despite a late effort from Andrew Calof to haul Torpedo back into contention, that was enough to get the win.
Two goals from Denis Zernov led Avangard to an overtime success over Jokerit and moved the host three points clear of Barys in the Chernyshev Division.
However, it was far from easy for Bob Hartley’s team to get the edge in this one. Twice, Jokerit took the lead through Max Warn. The Swedish forward, a relatively recent recruit in Helsinki, had previously managed just one goal in 16 games for his new club. Alexei Emelin got the first tying goal for Avangard, his third for the club, before Zernov got started on his game-winning contribution.