It was all about the Eastern Conference on Saturday, with Barys clinching second place in the section as winner of the Chernyshev Division despite a shoot-out loss at home to Avangard. The other big winner was Torpedo as David Nemirovsky’s team secured its playoff place with a 5-3 win over Sibir. Traktor lost to Severstal to miss the chance to boost its chances of making post-season, while Neftekhimik’s loss to Metallurg removed the Nizhnekamsk team from the equation.
Amur needed overtime to secure victory over Red Star after allowing the Dragons to fight back from 0-2 down in Khabarvosk.
The home team dominated the early stages and could have enjoyed more than a 2-0 lead at the second intermission. Artyom Zhelezkov and Alexander Gorshkov were the scorers, but visiting goalie Tomi Karhunen performed strongly to keep Red Star in contention in his first game since Jan. 17.
In the third frame, Amur was punished for its missed chances. Brandon Yip scored a fine solo effort and Ville Lajunen tied it up on the power play to force the game into overtime. But Red Star has struggled in the extras all season and went down to a Danil Faizullin goal. Three wins in a row for Amur, 10 consecutive failures for Kunlun after tying in regulation.
Salavat Yulaev went down to a third successive loss after letting a two-goal lead slip in Vladivostok. Nikolai Tsulygin brought his team on this road trip with a deliberately weakened roster with a view to testing the depth of his roster but failed to generate a single victory.
Early on, though, it seemed that the visitor had got it right in this game. Vladimir Tkachyov gave Ufa an early lead with youngster Pavel Shen getting his first point of the season after being named in Salavat’s first line. Next, Alexander Burmistrov ended his scoring drought to make it 2-0 midway through the frame: the former Ak Bars man had failed to register a point in his previous nine games. Revenge for a 0-3 loss here on Thursday seemed to be on its way.
Admiral rallied in the second period. A goal was ruled out for a hand pass but late in the session Alexander Konnov got the puck legitimately in the net. Then, with less than five minutes to play, the home team tied the game thanks to a power play goal from Alexander Ugolnikov. Overtime could not separate the teams, although both had to kill a penalty, and Konstantin Glazachev eventually decided it in the shoot-out.
Avangard recorded its fourth win of the season over Barys – but the home team’s point from tying in regulation was enough to secure top spot in the Chernyshev Division. Avangard came into the game knowing that it had a theoretical chance of finishing ahead of the Kazakhs, but only if it could win in regulation today.
The home team showed first, opening the scoring in the 12th minute thanks to Viktor Svedberg. However, Avangard went on to dominate much of the play, with Henrik Karlsson performing wonders in the second period as he turned away 19 shots to preserve the home lead. However, he was beaten at last in the 49th minute when Nikita Pivtsakin tied the scores.
That took the game to overtime, and there was controversy when Barys forward Andre Petersson put the puck in the Avangard net only for the goal to be disallowed. Thus reprieved, the visitor went on to win in the shoot-out thanks to Sergei Shirokov.
A high-scoring game in Nizhny Novgorod saw Torpedo confirm its involvement in this season’s playoffs thanks to victory over a Sibir team that is still trying to force its way into the top eight. This result, and Neftehimik’s loss in Magnitogorsk, means that the remaining place available in the Eastern Conference is a straight fight between Traktor and Sibir.
Denis Parshin got Torpedo off to a flying start with a goal after 17 seconds, but Sibir tied it up in the first period. The middle frame, however, proved decisive. Goals from Robert Sabolic, Danil Veryayev and Anton Shenfeld put the host 4-1 in front and Sibir was never in a position to get back into the game.
True, the Siberians had clawed back a four-goal deficit on Thursday, and once again Nikolai Demidov found the net to start the fight-back here. But this time, Torpedo scored again at the start of the third period through Andrew Calof and even though Dmitry Sayustov replied 30 seconds later there was no way back for Sibir.
Eighth-placed Traktor could have moved four points clear of the chasing pack with victory at a Severstal team that is already long out of playoff contention. Instead, though, defeat in Cherepovets means a nervous end of the season for last year’s Eastern Conference finalist.
Sergei Monakhov made the difference in the early stages of this one. He put Severstal in front after 24 seconds and doubled that lead midway through the first period. Nick Bailen got one back for the visitor late in the frame but Severstal continued to impress. Unanswered goals from Ilya Khokhlov and Alexander Petunin – the latter scoring on the PK – saw the home team 4-1 up at the second intermission.
Traktor swapped goalies and Alexander Sudnitsin kept the host at bay for the rest of the game. However, the visitor’s offense never really got going in that third period and a solitary goal from Andrei Yerofeyev was never enough to salvage the situation.
Neftekhimik’s playoff prospects were already theoretical but a comprehensive loss at home to Metallurg swept away any hope of Vyacheslav Butsayev leading his team to the top eight. Vasily Koshechkin made 35 saves to frustrate the home offense, while Magnitka struck four to seal the win.
The opening goal came early, with Ivan Vereshchagin opening the scoring in the second minute. The second period began in similar fashion as Metallurg doubled its lead through Iiro Pakarinen; Pavel Varfolomeyev added a third after 36 minutes.
Sergei Mozyakin had the final say, getting his 22nd goal of the season midway through the final frame to complete a solid victory on the road. Metallurg climbs to fourth in the Eastern Conference, Neftekhimik remains four points adrift of Traktor with two games to play, but has fewer wins in regulation and cannot overhaul the Chelyabinsk team.