Amur moved off the foot of the Eastern Conference table after condemning Sochi to an eighth consecutive loss.
The home team owed its success to a greater willingness to shoot the puck, particularly in the early stages. There wasn’t much to choose between the teams in the first period, but Amur was well ahead on the shot count and got its reward in the 15th minute when Denis Golubev opened the scoring.
In the second period, Sochi found the target, but the goal was ruled out because it came after the net had been knocked off its moorings. At the other end, Amur failed to take advantage of a 5-on-3 power play and it remained a one-goal game until the final session.
Early in the third, Gleb Koryagin extended Amur’s lead with his first goal of the season but Sochi replied late in the game through Sergei Shmelyov to set up an anxious finale. In the end, though, the visitor’s goal did nothing more than deny Marek Langhamer of a shut-out as Amur held on to take the verdict.
Life in the Far East seems to suit Dynamo – after winning in Beijing, the Blue-and-Whites romped to a 5-1 success at Amur and followed up with another convincing victory over Admiral.
That game in Khabarovsk saw Maxim Afinogenov on the scoresheet for the first time in more than a year after injuries wrecked his prospects last season. Finding the net clearly gave the veteran forward a jolt of positive energy and he was on hand to open the scoring in the sixth minute here. It was the only goal of an even first period.
In the middle frame, in-form Admiral began to take the game to its guest. However, Ivan Bocharov stood firm in the Dynamo net and the team took its chances at the other end. First, 23-year-old defenseman Sergei Boikov potted his first goal in the KHL, then Dmitrij Jaskin twice outwitted Juho Olkinuora either side of the third intermission to open a commanding lead for the Muscovites. Alexander Konnov pulled one back for Admiral in the 53rd minute, but it was little more than a consolation effort.
This was an epic battle between two long-standing rivals – and one which took its toll on the players of both teams. An uncompromising clash remained goalless until the shoot-out, and Metallurg won thanks to a heroic performance from goalie Vasily Koshechkin. The Olympic champion suffered a cut to his neck during the first period after Maksim Matushkin tumbled in front of the net and caught the goalie with his skate. Koshechkin had to go off for treatment but returned at the start of the second period to blank Ak Bars during the game and stop four attempts in the shoot-out.
But there was another serious injury later in the game when Yegor Korobkin planted a hard but clean hit on Vladimir Tkachyov in center ice. The Ak Bars forward was left unconscious on the ice and had to be stretchered to the locker room before leaving the arena in an ambulance. After the game, Ak Bars head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov told reporters that Tkachyov had regained consciousness, but the medics were still assessing the extent of his injuries. Korobkin added: “I don’t really know what to say. It was a horrible accident and he ended up getting hurt. If I could see him now, I’d like to apologise. Of course, it was never in my thoughts to injure anyone and I hope he makes a quick recovery.”
The game produced plenty of incident as well, particularly in overtime when Viktor Antipin had two good chances to win it for Metallurg before Koshechkin made a big save to deny Danis Zaripov. The shoot-out saw Koshechkin win each of the duels he faced, while Roman Lyubimov and Brandon Kozun scored on Timur Bilyalov to give Magnitka the win.
Alexander Salak secured his first victory as Dinamo Riga goalie after backstopping a success at home to Traktor. The Czech international had allowed 11 goals in his two previous appearances for the club but was in far better form today to help the Latvians claim a third win in four games. Girts Ankipans and his team are still at the foot of the Western Conference, but Dinamo is now just three points adrift of the playoff places.
Salak made 34 saves for his shut-out and produced a performance that suggests he is approaching his peak once again after arriving in Riga without the benefit of a proper pre-season and without having played anywhere early in the season.
Dinamo went in front early in the second period with a goal right after a successful penalty kill. Mikelis Redlihs emerged from the box and chased down a Traktor defenseman behind the net. That prompted a hasty clearance which gave Brandon McMillan the chance to intercept and pick out Lauris Darzins at the back door to beat Vasily Demchenko.
And the host increased its lead in the third period when Gints Meija fired home a pass from Roberts Mamcics to make it 2-0 at the end of a 5-on-3 power play. Colton Gillies played a key role here, screening Demchenko as Meija’s shot came in. That secured Dinamo’s second victory over Traktor: earlier this month the team picked up a 4-3 verdict in Chelyabinsk despite Tomas Hyka’s hat-trick.