Kirill Kaprizov’s game-winner for CSKA against Ak Bars was the 11th time he had the decisive goal this season. That matched one KHL record, while his team’s 49th victory in regular season equalled another. The battle for the remaining four playoff places continues to intrigue. Wednesday was a big day for Torpedo, victorious at Lokomotiv and now just one win shy of securing a top-eight finish in the East. Traktor gained a point from a shoot-out loss at home to Severstal, but may regret missing out on both points against a team already eliminated from post season. In the West, Vityaz suffered a heavy loss at Metallurg and must wait to confirm its involvement in the playoffs.
Matt Ellison collected four points as Vityaz slipped to a fourth consecutive loss and remains unsure of its playoff destiny. A win in Magnitogorsk would have put the visitor seven points ahead of Dinamo Riga, with only eight more points available to the Latvians. Instead, the gap stays at five.
That’s mostly due to Ellison’s sparkling performance. Vityaz opened the scoring early in the second period through Nikita Komarov, but Ellison was the architect as the home team turned the game around before the intermission. The Canadian forward had helpers on goals for Maksim Matushkin and Ivan Vereshchagin to put Magnitka in front.
In the final frame, Ellison twice found the net himself, opening up a 3-1 lead with 10 minutes to play and sealing the deal with an empty net goal in the last minute. The forward broke through the 50-point barrier for the fourth time in his KHL career.
Traktor dropped a point at home to Severstal as the Chelyabinsk team continues to make hard work of clinching a playoff place. This shoot-out loss was the third reverse in a row for Traktor, although the bonus point for tying in regulation at least extends the lead over Sibir to three points.
To compound home frustrations, Traktor could hardly have enjoyed a better start. Dominik Furch’s attempt to clear the puck from behind his own net when badly wrong when a freakish bounce of the boards put the disk directly onto Alexander Sharov’s stick. The forward duly fired into the empty net to give his team a fifth-minute lead.
Carter Ashton tied the scores in the second period and Severstal was twice denied by video reviews: Alexander Petunin was unlucky on both occasions and there was no further scoring until the shoot-out. It took 22 attempts to find a winner before Geoff Kinrade settled it in Severstal’s favor.
Torpedo got a massive boost in its playoff push thanks to an overtime win at Loko. Philip Holm got the decisive goal after two minutes of the extras to snap a three-game losing streak. More significantly, Torpedo is now seven points clear of ninth-placed Sibir and requires just one more victory to book its ticket for post-season.
The visitor, on a poor run of form that saw just one win in its last six games, led twice in regulation. Andrew Calof opened the scoring early in the second period, only for Brandon Kozun to tie the game on the power play shortly before the intermission. Lokomotiv was caught cold again early I nthe third as Andy Miele restored Torpedo’s lead, but Yegor Averin quickly made it 2-2.
Mikhail Maltsev, SKA’s 20-year-old forward, got his first ever KHL goal to help his team to a 2-0 victory at Spartak. The result keeps SKA in contention for the regular season title and means Spartak is now unlikely to catch fifth-placed Dynamo after slipping to a fifth loss in six games.
Maltsev’s big moment came early in the third period. He gained possession in center ice and surged into Spartak territory. As he got close to Nikita Bespalov’s net, the youngster showed great composure to convince the home defense that he was about to pass to Oleg Li before firing a shot past the Spartak goalie. That was the Devils’ prospects first goal in his 27th KHL appearance.
Earlier, Jarno Koskiranta gave SKA the lead with a power play goal in the second period. The home team also had to cope with the loss of Ilya Talaluyev, ejected from the game in the first period for slashing.
Kirill Kaprizov scored twice to follow up Monday’s hat-trick at Slovan and bring CSKA its fourth victory of the season over the defending champion. This season’s league leader has enjoyed its meetings with the team that defeated it in last year’s Grand Final – and has laid down a marker ahead of a potential playoff rematch against Ak Bars.
Wednesday’s game was all about CSKA’s fast start. The Army Men raced to a 3-0 lead in 15 minutes. Kaprizov got things started on 2:38 then assisted on Mikhail Grigorenko’s goal a minute later. The forward then potted his second of the game to make it 3-0 in the 16th minute. By the end of the game, that proved to be the game-winner and saw Kaprizov tied Alexei Tereshchenko’s KHL record for GWGs.
However, the visitor did not have it all its own way as it recorded a sixth successive win and maintained its three-point lead at the top of the regular-season table. Anton Lander got a power play goal late in the first period to get Ak Bars into the game and, after a long wait for another goal, Alexander Svitov made it a one-goal game with five minutes to play. That was as close as Ak Bars came, however, as Lars Johansson repelled the host’s final push for an equalizer. CSKA matched its own record of 49 victories in regular season.
Dynamo and Jokerit look likely to meet in the first round of the playoffs – and this game in Moscow gave the Blue-and-Whites a psychological boost to take into that potential match-up. Jokerit has the higher ranking in the tournament table but was undone here by four points for Vadim Shipachyov.
The Russian international followed up his game-winning blitz in Monday’s derby against Spartak with another dominant display. His first contribution came when he helped Artyom Volkov cancel out Sami Lepisto’s opening goal. A couple of minutes later, Semyon Pankratov’s first ever KHL goal put Dynamo up 2-1 before Shipachyov scored for himself to extend the lead before the second intermission.
In the final frame, Shipachyov twice combined with Miks Indrasis to generate two further Dynamo goals. Jokerit attempted a fightback through Niklas Jensen and John Norman but fell short of saving the game. Dynamo recorded its 11th successive win over the Finns, while an offensive gesture from Dmitry Kagarlitsky as he left the ice at the end of the second period and a fight involving Henri Ikonen and Vitaly Menshikov early in the third should ensure there are plenty of scores to settle if the teams do indeed meet in the playoffs.
Slovan, rooted to the foot of the KHL table, battled from 0-2 down to record its third win in four games. The Slovakian team has endured a difficult season, but looks to be finishing on a positive note.
For Minsk, second bottom of the league but still in with a chance of overhauling Amur and Admiral in the Eastern Conference, this was a missed opportunity. Early goals from Teemu Pulkkinen and Maxim Parfeyevets put the visitor in a strong position in the first period but the home team recovered the deficit. Rudolf Cerveny’s power play goal reduced the deficit in the opening stanza, Marek Sloboda tied it up early in the second and Jeff Taffe potted the go-ahead goal in the 47th minute.