There were just two games in the KHL on Sunday, but both kept the fans intrigued until the last moment. HC Sochi battled back from 0-3 down at home to Lokomotiv, only to lose out to a 58th-minute goal from the visitor. Torpedo tied its game against Neftekhimik in the last minute, but the visitor potted the winner in overtime.
An absorbing game in Sochi ended in disappointment for the host. Down 0-3 early in the third period, Sochi came back to tie the scores but fell to a late goal from Rushan Rafikov as Lokomotiv bounced back from defeat at Torpedo last time out.
The game also saw another talented youngster from the Lokomotiv system announce himself in the KHL. Mikhail Belyayev, 21, was recalled to the first team for the first time since late December and celebrated by scoring his first KHL goal. It came in the 26th minute after Artyom Ilyenko brought the puck out from behind the net and sent a tempting feed to the slot where Belyayev’s one-timer found the top shelf. A couple of minutes later, Loko made it 2-0 when Staffan Kronwall set up Danil Yurtaikin.
If it all looked comfortable for Lokomotiv at the second intermission, the third period produced some surprises for the visitor. Andrei Loktionov made it 3-0 in the 46th minute but Sochi hit back immediately. Slovak forward Martin Bakos reduced the deficit 90 seconds later then turned provider as Yegor Rykov made it a one-goal game with 10 minutes to go. The tying marker came in the 54th minute with Sochi on the power play: Ziyat Paigin’s shot was redirected into the net by Eric O’Dell.
Loko had blown a 2-0 lead against Torpedo in its previous game and was now in danger of losing another big lead. However, the visitor had the answer this time. With two minutes left another power play goal, this time for Rafikov with a Loktionov assist, put the visitor back in front. That one proved to be the winner, keeping Lokomotiv in third in the West but denying Sochi the chance to build a gap over ninth-placed Dinamo Riga.
Torpedo is not quite sure of a playoff spot in the East just yet, while Neftekhimik’s chances of sneaking into the top eight are receding fast. So when the two teams met in Nizhny Novgorod, both had plenty to play for.
As a result, this turned into a tight encounter. The first period was goalless and it wasn’t until the latter half of the second frame that we finally saw some scoring. Mikhail Orlov broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute to put the home team in front. Four minutes later, Pavel Poryadin tied the game once again.
A power play goal from Joonas Nattinen put Neftekhimik in front midway through the third but it wasn’t enough to win the game. Andy Miele scored a last-minute shorthanded goal to save the host in regulation. The penalty, though, continued into the extras, and Marat Khairullin converted the power play in 4-on-3 action to give the visitor the win. With five games left, Neftekhimik has to make up seven points on Traktor to get into the top eight. Torpedo, still seventh, enjoys a seven-point advantage over ninth-placed Sibir; both teams have six games to play.