Danis Zaripov scored twice to overtake Alexei Morozov’s KHL scoring record for Ak Bars and help the defending champion to a 5-1 victory at home to Nizhny Novgorod. In Moscow, Spartak guaranteed a top-eight finish with a 3-1 win over playoff-chasing Sochi.
Danis Zaripov became the leading Ak Bars goalscorer in KHL play when he gave his team the lead in this game. That first-period tally was his 141stgoal for the club in the KHL era, moving him ahead of former captain Alexei Morozov. Zaripov would move on to 142 by the end of the game, as the defending champion racked up a convincing victory over Torpedo.
However, it took some time for the host to turn its advantage into goals. Torpedo hung in there during the first period before a second-session strike from Vladimir Tkachyov gave Ak Bars a 2-0 lead. Torpedo even found a response to that, halving the deficit thanks to Robert Sabolic early in the third.
The game got away from the visitor in the final frame, however. Penalty trouble plagued Torpedo and Ak Bars took advantage. Zaripov got his second of the game as a long spell of five-on-three came to an end. Stanislav Galiyev added an empty net goal and Vyacheslav Osnovin made it five in the last minute, assisted by Zaripov.
Spartak became the sixth team in the Western Conference to confirm its playoff place, leaving Sochi looking to finish the season as one of the top two in a three-horse race for the remaining spots.
Ilya Talaluyev put the home team ahead in the sixth minute, but Sochi tied it up through Nikita Tochitsky in the 13th. Parity was short-lived: Alexander Khokhlachyov restored the Red-and-White lead a few minutes later and Sochi never recovered that deficit. A power play goal from Anatoly Nikontsev midway through the third period settled the outcome.
Spartak moves to 64 points, 10 ahead of ninth-placed Dinamo Riga with five games to play. Riga could match Spartak’s points tally but is too far behind on wins in regulation. Sochi, still in eighth, remains just two points ahead of the Latvians, though, and four adrift of Vityaz in the race for the top eight.