October was not a happy month for Dinamo Minsk. After getting a win on Oct. 3, Craig Woodcroft’s team suffered nine successive defeats and slipped to the foot of the Western Conference. The Belarusians also face an injury crisis, with key players like Francis Pare, Teemu Pulkkinen, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Stefan Elliott all unavailable.
Metallurg, meanwhile, is upwardly mobile after putting its slow start behind it. Ilya Vorobyov has lifted the team from the foot of the Eastern Conference into a playoff place.
Dinamo grabbed a surprise lead in the first period when Drew Shore capitalized on an error by defenseman Alexei Bereglazov to put the Bison ahead in the 10th minute. But Metallurg responded right away: a power play chance arrived and Bereglazov quickly atoned for his gaffe by tying the scores. Three minutes later it was 2-1 to the host after Dennis Rasmussen redirected a Maksim Matushkin shot.
The visitor thought it had equalized early in the second period through Alexander Pavlovich but the video showed he had kicked the puck into the net. The reprieve was short-lived, however, and Evgeny Kovyrshin scored a legitimate goal on the power play to tie the scores.
In the third, Metallurg enjoyed plenty of time on the power play and Minsk defended heroically. The visitor even had a chance to snatch a short-handed goal when Andrei Stepanov broke clear only to be denied by the piping. Dinamo picked up a point as the game went to overtime, but the visitor could not escape a 10th successive loss when Andrei Loktionov converted a one-on-one brilliantly in the final minute of the extras.
Sergei Shirokov collected his first points since returning from injury as Avangard snapped a three-game losing streak. However, the Hawks had to work hard to overcome a spirited Amur team in Balashikha.
The visitor, looking to climb off the foot of the Eastern Conference, got the opening goal through Pavel Turbin midway through the first period. The defenseman found the net for the first time since the 2017/18 season after Amur’s offense awoke following a slow start to the game.
However, that merely prompted Avangard into action. Immediately after Turbin’s goal the home team had a power play and piled the pressure onto Marek Langhamer’s net without forcing a tying goal.
The home team continued to have the better of the play but had to wait until early in the second period to get its reward. Taylor Beck tied the scores in the 21st minute and Kirill Semyonov made it 2-1 soon afterwards. Ville Pokka and Shirokov assisted on both goals. Amur was not going to go away so easily, though, and tied the game once more midway through the frame when Alexander Gorshkov found the net.
In the third period, Amur began to pose more of a threat and there was a real chance that the visitor could take both points. Only a super save from Igor Bobkov, reacting to a point-blank shot in the 53rd minute, kept the scores level. Then came Shirokov, grabbing his first goal since his injury and only his second of a hitherto frustrating campaign for the forward. That restored the home lead with less than five minutes to play and Bob Hartley’s team closed out the win.
Robert Rosen scored a hat-trick – including two goals in the last 10 minutes – to snatch a dramatic win for Sochi. The Swedish forward got the game-winner with just 31 seconds left to move the Black Sea team to within a point of the playoff spots after a third straight victory.
But Dinamo, still rooted to the foot of the table, proved to be a stubborn opponent. In the first period, with few chances at either end, a point shot saw Daniels Berzins give the Latvians the lead. That was something of a theme for Dinamo’s display: few shots on goal (Dmitry Shikin faced just 12 shots on his net), but good finishing that brought two goals from those limited attempts.
Sochi got the first power play of the game early in the second period and Rosen took advantage to fire home a feed from Morgan Ellis and tie the scores. But even a spell of almost total domination by the host could not separate the teams before the second intermission.
Rosen put the host in front for the first time with 10 minutes left, firing home a Malte Stromwall pass. With Dinamo’s limited opportunities on offense, it was tempting to assume that would settle the game, but the visitor had other ideas. Oskars Bartulis tied the scores in the 56th minute and looked as though overtime was certain when that Swedish combination of Stromwall and Rosen worked once again to give Rosen his hat-trick goal and Sochi the win.