On a day full of shut-outs, two of the most notable involved the two Army clubs. SKA suffered a second successive shut-out loss, going down 0-2 at Avangard. Its rival at the top of the table, CSKA, had no such problems at Dinamo Minsk, winning 3-0 to secure a 19thshut-out of the season. Severstal, Jokerit and Admiral also blanked their opponents, while there were 3-2 wins for Sibir, Metallurg and Barys.
Sibir moved to within two points of eighth-placed Traktor as the race for the Eastern Conference playoffs hots up. Following up Saturday’s sensational win over SKA, the Novosibirsk team took on Kunlun Red Star and had enough to hold off one of its big rivals in the battle for the top eight.
The confidence from that win over SKA was reflected in the home team’s fast start, but it wasn’t until the 16th minute that Dmitry Sayustov scored a fine breakaway goal to open the scoring. Red Star responded early in the second through Victor Bartley’s point shot but the middle frame was dominated by visiting goalie Alexander Lazushin’s 19 saves to keep the scores tied.
The teams traded three quick goals in the third period. Alexander Loginov put Sibir in front again on the power play, only for Blake Parlett to tie the scores almost immediately. But Lazushin was still the goalie under pressure and after another good save he was beaten by Shane Prince for the decisive goal.
Two goals from Nikolai Kulemin led Magnitka to victory over the Eastern Conference leader and denied Avtomobilist the chance to wrap up top spot in the Kharlamov Division with a point from Monday’s game.
Metallurg took an early lead thanks to Iiro Pakarinen’s powerful shot in the eighth minute, but the host responded before the intermission through Vyacheslav Litovchenko. Then, in the middle frame, Kulemin got his first goal for eight game to put his team ahead once again and Avtomobilist had to contend with the loss of Stephane Da Costa, who was ejected from the game.
Metallurg could not capitalize on the power play that followed Da Costa’s departure, but Kulemin made it 3-1 at the start of the third period. Dan Sexton found an immediate response for Avtomobilist but subsequently the host was unable to find a way past Artyom Zagidulin.
Traktor’s grip on a playoff place was weakened after it failed to score on a Jokerit team that lost 2-8 in its last outing.
The host knew that its advantage over ninth-placed Sibir was down to two points going into the game but was unfortunate to encounter a Jokerit team with a point to prove. Although it took 56 minutes for the only goal of the game to arrive, this was no tight affair. The Finns took the shot count 47-17 – in the third period the margin was 20-1 – as Vasily Demchenko endured a busy night in the Traktor net.
Sami Lepisto was the architect of Jokerit’s winner. His fine pass found Jesse Joensuu at the far post, and the forward’s one-timer did the rest. Janis Kalnins got the shut-out for the visitor; Traktor faces an anxious end to the season.
Andre Petersson’s two goals were enough for Barys to take the points from Ufa and stay ahead of Avangard in second place in the East. However, the visitor lost two key forwards after an accidental collision between Brandon Bochenski and Matt Frattin in the first period.
The incident happened with the score tied at 1-1 after a quickfire exchange of goals early in the game. Neither of the pair returned to the game, putting the pressure on the other Barys forwards to provide the goals.
Petersson obliged. He put Barys in front in the 33rd minute, only for Linus Omark to tie the scores less than a minute later. Then, after Henrik Karlsson kept the third period goalless with 17 saves, Petersson popped up with the winner 28 seconds into the extras.
SKA’s much-vaunted failed to score for the second game in a row as Igor Bobkov produced a game-winning display in Balashikha. The Avangard goalie made 22 stops to frustrate Gusev & Co, delivering his team a 2-0 verdict that keeps it in the hunt for second place in the Eastern Conference.
The visitor’s problems going forward became apparent early in the game. Nikita Pivtsakin was ejected, but SKA struggled to create anything of note during that major penalty. Indeed, the Army Men mustered just two shots on target in the opening frame and fell behind to a Sergei Shirokov goal in the 17th minute.
In the second period, SKA fired in more shots but still struggled to get possession in the home end. A power play goal from Taylor Beck doubled the Avangard lead and the host was close to extending that advantage still further on another power play late in the game.
Famed soccer coach Jose Mourinho was the guest of honor at the game – he took part in the ceremonial face-off, but slipped on the ice. However, there was no evidence of soccer-style ‘parking the bus’ as Avangard looked to defend its lead. SKA tried to raise the pace but could not find a way past Bobkov, who secured his eighth shut-out of the campaign.
CSKA increased its lead at the top of the KHL table after blanking Dinamo in Minsk. The Army Men move on to 19 shut-outs for the season, goalie Ilya Sorokin secured his 10th of the current campaign and moves alongside Loko’s prodigy Ilya Konovalov.
In truth, Minsk rarely posed much of a threat to the visitor’s net. It took half an hour for the opening goal to arrive – Konstantin Okulov’s power play marker broke the deadlock – and CSKA effectively killed the game off two minutes later when Jannik Hansen scored a shorthanded effort.
Dinamo could not find a way to challenge in the final frame either and Maxim Shalunov rounded off the scoring with three minutes to play.
Dominik Furch was another goalie celebrating a shut-out after his 26 saves blanked Amur. However, the one-sided scoreline seemed a long way off after 40 minutes of this game.
At that stage, Severstal led 1-0 thanks to a Vadim Kudako goal early in the second period. However, Amur had rallied strongly after falling behind and the game was intriguingly poised going into the final frame.
Then the Steelmen took it up a notch. Four unanswered goals – two from Ivan Zakharchuk, one each for Yury Trubachyov and Carter Ashton – left Amur reeling. Neither side has anything much to play for this season, but Severstal produced a performance to cheer its fans after a difficult campaign.
This was one of the more unexpected results of the day. Vityaz, in decent form and with everything to play for as it looks to secure a playoff spot, faced an Admiral team that is all but out of the race in the East. However, the visitor produced a powerful performance to claim an emphatic win.
Admiral went ahead in the first period through Karel Kubat, but took control of the game in the second. Yury Petrov scored early to double the lead, Alexander Konnov and Gleb Zaitsev struck late in the frame to take the game away from the host.
There was no further scoring in the third and Anton Krasotkin completed back-to-back shut-outs after getting his first KHL blank in Saturday’s win at Dinamo Minsk.
Dinamo Riga again fluffed its lines with a playoff place in sight, losing in Bratislava to suffer a fourth loss in five games.
The wobble has come at the worst possible time for the Latvians, who remain two points adrift of eighth place but are starting to run out of games. Slovan, lifted by snapping a 10-game losing streak at the weekend, took the lead in the 15th minute through Marek Sloboda. Mikelis Redlihs tied the scores for Dinamo early in the second period but Jeff Taffe grabbed the game-winner for Slovan in the 35th minute.
Dinamo’s next game is an unusual exhibition outing against Great Britain’s national team on Wednesday; fans in Latvia will be hoping the change of environment triggers a change in fortune when the team returns to KHL action next week.