SKA recorded its sixth successive victory and continued its unbeaten record against Kunlun Red Star thanks to a quickfire pair of goals early in the second period.
The game began with a rapid exchange of goals. The action was barely a minute old when Spencer Foo opened the scoring on Red Star’s first meaningful attack of the game. The forward chased the puck down the left channel and slung it across towards the slot where he found a helpful bounce off Magnus Hellberg’s skate and into the net.
However, the lead was short-lived. SKA tied it up 90 seconds later, albeit amid some controversy. There was no question about Artyom Zub’s shot off a Kirill Marchenko feed, but Red Star was unhappy that play continued after Evgeny Ketov appeared to knock goalie Jeremy Smith off his feet during the build-up.
For the remainder of the opening frame Red Star soaked up plenty of SKA pressure but the dam broke early in the second. Anton Burdasov put the host in front before Marchenko increased the lead 29 seconds later. For the 19-year-old forward, that makes three goals and two assists in 10 games since breaking into the SKA line-up.
That took the game away from Red Star and the visitor’s hopes of recording its first ever victory over SKA were all but over. Jori Lehtera hit the post late in the second stanza, Joonas Kemppainen made it 4-1 midway through the third.
Avangard snapped a two-game losing streak to with Taylor Beck to the fore once again. The Canadian had a goal and an assist, moving him to 23 (10+13) points for the season and moving him to the top of the team’s scoring alongside Slava Voynov.
The home team dominated the opening session, outshooting Vityaz 18-2, but its only tangible reward came from a power play goal midway through the frame. Beck and Voynov combined to set up Semyon Koshelev for the opening goal.
In the second period Vityaz replaced starting goalie Pyotr Kochetkov with Igor Saprykin, but Avangard continued to have the better of the game. A 5-on-3 power play midway through the session did not bring any further scoring but Beck struck on a delayed penalty late in the stanza to extend his team’s lead.
Vityaz was more competitive in the final third but could not find a way back into the game, with Igor Bobkov securing his third shut-out of the season. Evgeny Grachyov added a third in the 55th minute with Voynov getting his second helper of the evening.
Neftekhimik’s 10-game winning streak is turning into a distant memory. Today’s narrow loss in Moscow was the team’s fifth in a row – but Spartak was indebted to a fantastic goaltending display from Julius Hudacek.
The Slovak international stopped 39 shots as the visitor threw everything forward without finding a way to solve the home goalie. It was Hudacek’s second shut-out of the season and brought a fourth straight win for the Red-and-Whites.
The only goal came early. Robin Hanzl converted the first power play chance of the evening, giving Spartak a third-minute lead. Neftekhimik missed a great chance to respond when it had a 5-on-3 power play midway through the session, but subsequently the first period proved to be an even battle. After the intermission Neftekhimik began to take control of the game without finding a way to beat Hudacek.