Two teams in need of points met in Khabarovsk. Amur begins a home stand hoping to move towards the playoff places in the East, while Loko was hoping to build on a victory in Beijing and continue its recovery from a slow start to the season. The visitor sprang a surprise, leaving Swedish imports Staffan Kronwall and Anton Lander out of the roster.
Amur needed just 24 seconds to open the scoring when Vyacheslav Ushenin found himself alone in front of the Lokomotiv net and outwitted Ilya Konovalov. That encouraged a lively response from the Railwaymen but there was no further scoring in the first period.
After the intermission, though, it was a different story. The visitor seized the initiative from the off and after a long spell of pressure in the Amur zone, Stepan Sannikov tied the scores with his first goal of the season.
After that, the focus fell on home goalie Evgeny Alikin. Making his seventh consecutive start, the 24-year-old had 34 saves and frustrated the visitor when it looked to turn the screws. At the other end, Amur provided less of an attacking threat but still found a way to win the game thanks to Nikita Kamalov’s first goal of the season, fired home in the 58th minute.
Severstal struck with one second to play in overtime and snatched a 2-1 victory in Beijing. The result moves the Steelmen into the playoff places in the Western Conference.
This was a tight game, with few big chances at either end. Red Star opened the scoring in the second period when Ethan Werek fired home from a tight angle shortly after the end of his team’s power play. The pressure that built up on the Severstal net meant that even the return of Makar Khabarov to the game could not deny the home team.
But the visitor tied it up with five minutes to play when Vladislav Kodola’s shot was steered in at the far post by Andrei Alexeyev. Then came the extras, and Vladislav Provolnev fired home from the blue line to take the verdict.
A battling performance from Avangard stifled SKA’s offense for long periods as last season’s finalist picked up a notable victory. Head coach Bob Hartley was even moved to slip into Russian in a post-game interview, ascribing his team’s success to ‘Rabota, rabota, rabota’ (Work, work, work) after a hard-fought and absorbing game in Balashikha.
The action got off to a breathless start with the teams trading three goals in the first 10 minutes. Slava Voynov scored on his former club in the third minute, opening the scoring as an Avangard counterattack brought its first meaningful shot of the game. It was the defenseman’s seventh goal of the season. SKA tied it up through Alexander Barabanov and went ahead in the ninth minute when Jori Lehtera redirected a David Rundblad shot beyond Igor Bobkov to convert the visitor’s first power play of the night.
At this point, the home time displayed the character and work rate that got Hartley so excited after the game. Digging deep, blocking shots and holding off the SKA offense until the intermission, then regrouping and producing a dominant display in the middle frame. Avangard outshot SKA 12-4 in that second stanza but, ironically, moved ahead with a short-handed goal after the visitor cough up the puck in its own zone and Kirill Semyonov scored on the rebound from an Alexei Potapov effort.
A fine solo effort from Pavel Dedunov put Avangard ahead 20 seconds into the final frame, but there was more work for the home defense to do before it could secure the win. A SKA power play midway through the session brought pressure to Bobkov’s net, but the goalie stood up well with a string of big saves, most notably doing the splits to stop an Andrei Kuzmenko thunderbolt. It was enough to keep the Army Men at bay and make it three straight wins for the Chernyshev Division leader.
Nikita Soshnikov scored twice as Salavat Yulaev denied Vityaz the chance to draw level on points with KHL leader CSKA. The forward, who celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, potted the game winner with just under four minutes left. He snapped a 1-1 tie and helped his team bounce back from its loss at Jokerit in its previous game.
Soshnikov also broke the deadlock in this game just after the half-hour mark. The teams were playing 4-on-4 when Ufa got an odd man rush and Soshnikov had no hesitation in firing home a Sakari Manninen feed.
Vityaz tied the game thanks to its Finnish connection. Ville Lajunen’s diagonal pass found Miro Aaltonen on the face-off spot and the forward made no mistake. The teams went into the second intermission locked at 1-1, and with little between them on any other indicator in the game.
That continued to be the case for much of the third period, but Soshnikov found a way to win it with a goal straight out of his coach’s playbook. After winning a face-off in the Vityaz zone, it took just four touches to score: Soshnikov moved the puck to Zakhar Arzamastsev at the point, he played it Manninen who immediately fed Soshnikov between the hash marks for a one-timer that whistled past Ilya Ezhov. Behind the bench, Nikolai Tsulygin had every cause to look pleased with himself and his team.