Nikita Gusev got his 61st assist of the season to beat Alexander Radulov’s record from 2011 and help SKA to a 5-2 win over Jokerit. The Petersburg team still trails CSKA, though, with the Muscovites claiming a KHL record 50th victory of the season at home to Slovan. Sochi struck late for a vital win in the playoff race, while Dynamo Moscow’s defeat means it will face Jokerit in post-season. Ak Bars blanked Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist.
Avtomobilist is on the verge of clinching top spot in the Eastern Conference – but last season’s champion Ak Bars sent a reminder to this year’s pretender with its third victory of the season against the Ural team. Goalie Alexander Sharychenkov played for the first time since September and recorded his second shut-out of the campaign as Ak Bars picked up the win.
The only goal of an even first period went to the visitor. Nikita Lyamkin shot from the point and home goalie Jakub Kovar was screened; the puck found the net and Ak Bars had the lead. After the intermission, Avtomobilist raised its game but found it hard to break down the Kazan defense, even when presented with a power play chance. Late in the frame, Ak Bars extended its lead. Jiri Sekac potted a second in the 37th minute and Vladimir Tkachyov completed the scoring just before the second break. With a secure lead to defend, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s men closed out the game in the third.
Vityaz continues to stumble towards the finish line as it looks to confirm a playoff place for the second time in three seasons. This was a fifth successive loss for Vitaly Belov’s team, which is unable to build a decisive advantage over HC Sochi and Dinamo Riga in the race for the top eight.
Lokomotiv was never behind in this game, although two goals from Pavel Chernov kept Vityaz in contention until the very end. After a goalless first period, the teams traded scores early in the second. Andrei Loktionov’s power play goal put Loko up but Michal Repik tied the game within a minute.
However, it took just 30 seconds for Loko to hit the front again when Vladislav Kartayev found the target. Maxim Osipov extended the lead before Chernov’s first of the night made it 3-2 at the intermission. Petri Kontiola added a fourth for Loko midway through the final frame, with Brandon Kozun getting his third assist of the game; Chernov’s second goal was not enough to save Vityaz from defeat.
A goal two minutes before the end from Stanislav Bocharov saved Sochi from defeat – and could have a huge bearing on the playoff race in the West. Had Dynamo held on to win this, it would have opened the door for Dinamo Riga to go to eighth place with victory in its open-air game against Dinamo Minsk. Instead, Martin Bakos scored his second overtime winner in three days to keep the Black Sea team on course for post season.
The visitor made a bright start, with Vladislav Kaletnik opening the scoring in the eighth minute. That was the only goal for the first period but Dynamo recovered after the intermission. Evgeny Mozer and Miika Koivisto put the Blue-and-Whites ahead and seemingly on course for a third straight victory.
Bocharov changed all that, albeit after a nerve-jangling wait for the video review to confirm that his late goal was good. Bakos then delivered the winner. Dynamo, meanwhile, became the first team to confirm its playoff opponent: the Muscovites will face Jokerit in round one, although it is not yet certain which team will start with home ice advantage.
Today’s victory was the 50th of the season for CSKA, setting a new KHL record and taking the team to 100 points for the season – the first team to achieve that under the new ‘two points for a win’ scoring system in the league.
There was little doubt about the outcome of this game. CSKA had won its three previous games against the Slovaks with an aggregate score of 17-1 and the Bratislava club’s defeat confirms that it will finish bottom of the Western Conference. Konstantin Okulov opened the scoring in the 16thminute and the game was decided by three goals in five minutes midway through the second period. Linden Vey and Maxim Mamin extended the home advantage before Okulov potted his second of the night to make it 4-0. Mario Grman got one back for Slovan in the third but nothing was going to deny CSKA this record-breaking victory.
Nikita Gusev got his 61st assist of the season to beat Alexander Radulov’s record and help SKA to a comfortable victory over Jokerit. Radulov had 60 helpers in the 2010-11 season when he was playing for Salavat Yulaev.
Gusev’s first big moment arrived early in the game when he fed Nail Yakupov for a ninth-minute opener. Thirty seconds later, Maxim Karpov doubled the lead, but Jokerit hit back through Antti Pihlstrom late in the frame.
The second period was goalless, but SKA regained its scoring touch in the third. Gusev got a goal to add to his assist, moving him to 76 points for the season and increasing his lead on the scoring charts. Yakupov scored his second of the night and Swedish defenseman Patrik Hersley, back in the team this week after injury ruled him out in late December, got his first since returning to action. Ex-SKA forward Steve Moses got a consolation effort for Jokerit, which can now prepare for a playoff match-up against Dynamo Moscow.