Two goals from Miro Aaltonen led Vityaz to victory at home to defending champion Ak Bars. There were wins for two other Eastern Conference high-flyers as Metallurg and Avangard downed Admiral and Spartak respectively. Eric O’Dell was the day’s stand-out goalscorer, grabbing a hat-trick as Sochi added to Sibir’s defensive woes. Neftekhimik snapped an eight-game losing streak to edge Torpedo in overtime.
The scoreline made Metallurg’s six successive win look straightforward, but Admiral worked its host hard before succumbing.
The home team went in front midway through the first period thanks to Maksim Matushkin. However, Admiral proved to be an awkward customer in the early stages and got a deserved equalizer through Denis Vikharev 34 seconds before the intermission. The in-form Vikharev has now scored in his last three outings and has eight points from his last six games.
Magnitka upped the tempo in the second period, dominating the pattern of play and regaining the lead when Matt Ellison redirected a Matushkin shot past Anton Krasotkin. Still, though, the host could not put the game to bed and the contest remained live until Denis Platonov shot into the empty net. Nikolai Kulemin’s assist got him among the points for the fourth game running.
Neftekhimik snapped an eight-game losing run to rekindle its playoff hopes. Vyacheslav Butsayev got his first win as head coach after seeing his team retrieve a 1-3 deficit late in the third period before taking the verdict in overtime.
A goal and an assist from Denis Parshin had helped Torpedo take control of the game, but Emil Galimov struck in the 52nd minute to give the home team hope. Two minutes later, Andrej Nestrasil tied the scores and sent us to overtime, where Pavel Padakin potted the winner. Alexander Bryntsev had two assists in his team’s fightback.
Butsayev’s team is still in 10th place in the East, but reduces the gap on eighth-placed Traktor to six points. Torpedo, meanwhile, has just one win in nine and could yet be caught by the chasing pack.
Sochi snapped a three-game losing streak but Sibir’s unhappy start to the New Year continued. The men from Novosibirsk have lost all three games so far this year, conceding 16 goals in the process.
There were early signs that the visitor might buck its recent trend, though. Viktor Komarov’s wrist shot midway through the first period gave Sibir a lead that lasted until the intermission. However, two goals in 24 seconds turned the game upside down as Damir Rakhimullin and Eric O’Dell gave Sochi a lead that it would not relinquish.
The third session brought another quick double strike when O’Dell scored on the power play and Nikita Tochitsky followed up with his team’s fourth of the game. O’Dell wrapped up his evening with a short-handed tally to complete his hat-trick 10 minutes before the end, and a couple of late efforts from Sibir could merely make the final scoreline slightly more respectable for the visitor.
On Saturday, Spartak matched its club record KHL victory when it fired seven past Sibir. Two days later, though, the Red-and-Whites could not muster a single goal in a heavy loss at home to Avangard.
Taylor Beck, a deadline day signing from Kunlun Red Star, gave the visitor an early lead when he converted a power play in the fourth minute. Avangard continued to enjoy the better of the game and extended its lead midway through the opening stanza thanks to Kirill Semyonov.
Two video reviews on either side of the first intermission settled the course of the game. First, the players went to the locker rooms 52 seconds early as the officials sought to decide whether Robin Hanzl had got Spartak back into the game. During the break, the verdict came back: no goal. The teams returned, played the ‘missing’ time, stopped to begin the second period with a face-off in center ice and almost immediately had the officials heading back to the video booth. This time it was to confirm that Ilya Mikheyev had, indeed, scored a third goal for Avangard. Spartaks’ efforts never wavered, but there was no way past Igor Bobkov in the visitor’s net; Beck got his second of the night late on to complete the scoring.
Podolsk is becoming a tricky destination for the top teams. After beating CSKA in December, then pushing the league leader all the way last week, Vityaz produced a victory over defending champion Ak Bars to restore its two-point advantage over ninth-placed Dinamo Riga.
Miro Aaltonen was the home hero. The Finnish forward was instrumental two seasons ago when Valery Belov’s team reached the KHL playoffs for the first time ever. Now back after a season in North America, he’s still a potent goal threat and his two markers today moved him to 36 (18+18) for the season.
Aaltonen opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but Stanislav Galiyev tied the scores midway through the first period. The Ak Bars man snapped a long goalless streak in last week’s home win against Salavat Yulaev and was quick to follow that up with another here. But it wasn’t enough to save the Gagarin Cup holder; Aaltonen bagged the game-winner early in the second period before his compatriot Joni Ortio delivered a goaltending masterclass to preserve that slender advantage until the final hooter.