It’s been the best regular season in the KHL era in Yekaterinburg and today Avtomobilist secured the Kharlamov Division title with a 6-5 win over Torpedo. Elsewhere, Dynamo Moscow romped to a 5-1 derby win against Spartak, SKA and CSKA both enjoyed 4-1 wins and Dinamo Riga claimed a vital success at home to Jokerit.
Neftekhimik went to eighth-placed Traktor knowing that victory was essential to keep its playoff hopes alive. Things didn’t look good for the visitor when Vitaly Kravtsov put the home team in front early on, and Traktor might have extended its lead in the first period.
Instead, though, Marat Khairullin tied the scores on the stroke of the intermission and from then on it was a different game. Midway through the second period Khairullin put Neftekhimik ahead and, moments later, Pavel Zdunov doubled the advantage.
Traktor tried to get back into the game in the final stanza but Ilya Ezhov stood firm in the Neftekhimik net to mark his 100thappearance for the club with a vital victory.
Avto secured top spot in the Kharlamov Division – and with it a guaranteed top-two spot in the Eastern Conference – after a whirlwind of a game against Torpedo. Fittingly, two of the host’s most prominent forwards played a key role in securing a victory by the odd goal in 11.
The summer signings of Dan Sexton and Nigel Dawes formed something of a statement of intent for Avtomobilist. Today, that ambition got its first major reward, and the two forwards played a big role in that. Sexton had a goal and two assists, Dawes had a helper on Sexton’s goal before bagging the game-winner himself.
For half the game, though, Torpedo looked capable of grabbing the win it needed to stave off fears of getting sucked into a battle for a playoff place. In front late in the third through Artyom Alyayev’s power play goal, the visitor moved to a 4-2 lead after 28 minutes. Then came the response. Three goals in 10 minutes saw the host ahead by the second intermission, Dawes extended the lead with 10 to play and Denis Parshin’s late effort was not enough to save Torpedo.
Back-to-back losses before the international break had SKA in the rare position of a team out of form. Against Severstal, though, things got back to normal – albeit after an early scare.
The visitor grabbed a surprise lead in the third minute through Dmitry Megalinsky and, briefly, there were fears of a third straight defeat. However, it took less than a minute for the host to tie the scores, with Nikita Gusev getting the first of three assists as Andrei Zubarev made it 1-1.
After another 10 minutes, the game was as good as decided. Pavel Datsyuk made it 2-1 – the only goal that did not involve Gusev – before Jarno Koskiranta added a third in the 14th minute. Alexander Barabanov got the fourth midway through the game and SKA eased to its fourth victory of the season over the Steelmen.
With both teams sure of a playoff place, there was little more than local pride to play for. But Dynamo was in no mood to ease off, and Vadim Shipachyov picked up four points to confound those who criticized his weekend performances for Team Russia.
Shipachyov’s first contribution came at the end of the opening frame when he had an assist on Ilya Nikulin’s power play goal. That was all that separated the teams at the intermission, but shortly afterwards Vladislav Mikhailov doubled the Blue-and-White lead. The 18-year-old claimed his first KHL goal.
Dynamo’s power play was on song, and Shipachyov was involved again as Dmitry Kagarlitsky made it 3-1. Spartak pulled a goal back, but another PP chance saw Vadim get a goal of his own as the visitor finished the second period in compete control. There was only one goal in the final frame, with Shipachyov once again collecting an assist as Patrik Zackrisson completed the rout.
Dinamo’s difficulties this season had not prevented it from twice winning in Yaroslavl, but Loko had a 5-2 success on its previous visit to Belarus and that proved the more relevant indicator ahead of this game. The home team mustered just 14 shots at the 19-year-old goalie in the whole game and Lokomotiv took control with three unanswered goals in the second period. Staffan Kronwall opened the scoring, Yegor Korshkov scored the goal of the game to double the lead and Brandon Kozun finished it off.
HC Sochi gave its playoff prospects a massive boost – but it had to come from 0-2 down to win against Vityaz.
The visitor arrived looking for a win that would all but assure it of a top-eight finish. After a goalless first period, Vityaz looked good value for that result as goals from Alexander Nikulin and Borna Rendulic opened a solid lead midway through the second period.
Sochi was not about to give up, though. Yegor Rykov halved the deficit, Sergei Shmelyov snatched a dramatic equalizer with 63 seconds left and Martin Bakos won it in overtime. Sochi remains in eighth, but maintains its two-point cushion over Dinamo Riga and closes to within three points of Vityaz.
Dinamo kept its playoff prospects alive with victory in this Baltic battle against Jokerit. After going to Great Britain for an exhibition game last week, Dinamo’s players talked of the value of a change of scenery and they took that refreshed attitude into this game.
The Latvians made a perfect start. With just 97 seconds played, Mathew Maione fired home the opening goal. In the second period, Jokerit was caught cold again when Andris Dzerins made it 2-0. Faced with a must-win game, Dinamo was rising to the occasion.
Admittedly, there were nervous moments to come. Alex Grant got a goal back for the visitor to set up an anxious third period. But Lauris Darzins scored an empty-netter to seal the win and keep Dinamo hard on the heels of Sochi.
CSKA proved too strong for bottom club Slovan – but it wasn’t until the third period that the Army Men marched off with the points in Bratislava.
The first goal was a long time in coming and, when it finally arrived, it was Slovan’s Yegor Baranov who scored it in the 37th minute. CSKA wasted no time in responding, though, and Sergei Andronov tied the game before the second intermission.
After the break, the visitor stepped up the pace thanks to Kirill Kaprizov. The youngster got the game-winner in the 42nd minute and went on to make sure by scoring a hat-trick. The win keeps CSKA out in front as the regular season draws to a close.