There was no All-Star hangover for Spartak as the Muscovites handed out a 6-1 thumping to Torpedo. Jokerit, however, was punished for a slow start at home to Nefetkhimik and went down 2-1. Severstal continues to belie its lowly ranking; an overtime win at Dynamo makes it seven out of seven in 2019.
Spartak powered to an emphatic victory over Torpedo as visiting goalie Stanislav Galimov was recalled to bench after just 33 seconds of play. For Torpedo this heavy loss means it’s just two wins in 13 for a team that started the season strongly but has drifted alarmingly since the end of a three-game winning streak in mid-December.
It didn’t take long for Spartak to seize the initiative. Robin Hanzl opened the scoring in the first minute to prompt an immediate change of goalie for the visitor. Galimov’s last contribution was an undignified fumble after the rebound from a Vyacheslav Leshchenko shot; Andrei Tikhomirov replaced but was beaten in the 10th minute by a power play goal from Artyom Fyodorov.
Torpedo responded with a power play goal from Andrew Calof at the start of the second period but Alexander Osipov quickly restored Spartak’s two-goal advantage and the game went away from the visitor in the third. Evgeny Kulik extended the lead, Anatoly Nikontsev emerged from the penalty box to shoot home number five and Maxim Trunyov wrapped it up in the last minute.
Neftekhimik kept its playoff hopes alive in the East as Jokerit missed the chance to return to third place in the Western Conference.
The visitor made a flying start to the game, taking the lead through Ildar Shiksatdarov in the third minute. Janis Kalnins was almost beaten again soon after when he lost track of a shot that hit the post and was relieved to see the puck bounce behind him and away to safety. But the reprieve was short-lived; Pavel Poryadin doubled Neftekhimik’s lead in the 11th minute.
For much of the rest of the game, the home team was on top. However, Ilya Ezhov was in fine form for the visitor and after several attempts were saved the crowd was getting increasingly frustrated. Niklas Jensen, who hit the post in the second period, finally gave the fans something to celebrate with a goal after 45 minutes but Jokerit could not conjure a second that would take the game to overtime.
Neftekhimik’s win moves it to within nine points of a playoff place, but the Tatarstan team has only 10 more games to play.
If the hockey season ran according to the calendar year, Severstal would be out in front in the KHL right now. The Western Conference struggler hasn’t lost yet in 2019 and picked up its seventh victory of the year with an overtime success at Dynamo.
The Steelmen’s remarkable revival under incoming head coach Andrei Razin is surely too late to force them into the playoff picture, even if a top-eight finish is still mathematically achievable. But recent results have restored some pride in Cherepovets and that was evident in a battling display here.
In the first period, the visitor battered Dynamo but could not convert dominance on the shot count into goals on the scoreboard. In the second, the host went ahead through Vitaly Menshikov’s power play goal only to be pegged back immediately through Bogdan Yakimov. The third period was cautious and goalless but overtime saw Geoff Kinrade settle the issue in the 64th minute.
Dynamo stays fifth in the West, but is now level on points with sixth-placed Spartak; Severstal needs to make up an unlikely 13 points from 11 remaining games to find a way into the playoff spots.