Sochi produced one of the biggest shocks of the season when it went to table-topping Ak Bars and pulled off a 1-0 victory. The pre-game talk was about how the league leader could equal a club record for consecutive wins, but the visitor – and goalie Dmitry Shikin in particular – had other ideas.
Shikin made 31 saves to record his second shut-out of the season. And that got him the win in a goaltending duel against 19-year-old Amir Miftakhov in his KHL debut. The youngster, currently battling with SKA’s Yaroslav Askarov to be Russia’s #1 goalie at the upcoming World Juniors, stepped up from VHL hockey with Bars, where he has been a regular this season and last.
The first period of the game was fairly even, but penalty trouble in the second put Sochi in difficulties. First, the Leopards had to kill a 3-on-5 situation, then the visitor lost Alexei Petrov on a spearing call as the hooter sounded for the second intermission.
Ak Bars started the third on the power play and seemed poised to make the breakthrough. But Shikin and his defense held out and midway through the final session Stepan Starkov got the only goal off one of just three shots at Miftakhov in the frame. That was enough to secure a result that snapped Kazan’s seven-game winning streak and ended a three-game skid for Sochi.
This game was a battle for third place in the Western Conference, an endorsement of the way both these clubs have quietly gone about their business this season. Both came to the game with a record of five wins from their last six, and the winner would hold third place.
For both clubs, success has been built on strong individual scoring. Dynamo duo Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin lead the KHL in scoring, Torpedo’s Damir Zhafyarov is fifth while Charles Genoway is the third most productive defenseman.
But those star names were not involved in Friday’s scoring. Instead, Michal Cajkovsky gave the Muscovites an early lead before Daniil Ilyin tied it up in the 59th minute. The low scoring wasn’t due to a lack of effort: Torpedo had 47 shots at Ivan Bocharov over the 65 minutes of play, while Andrei Tikhomirov stopped 27 out of 28 at the other end. But it wasn’t a good day for forwards and even the shoot-out saw just one successful attempt. That was from Andre Petersson, Dynamo’s Swedish goalgetter, and secured a win that moves the Blue-and-Whites within a point of second-placed SKA.
Nine goals and a fight ensured a good evening’s entertainment for fans at Loko’s Arena 2000. The home team ultimately won this one quite convincingly, although Dinamo hung around for a while before succumbing.
The outcome was more conclusive than the scuffle that broke out at the end of the first period, when Loko’s Alexander Svitov traded blows with Oleg Yevenko. It was hard to pick a winner from that clash, and both players spent the first five minutes of the middle frame mulling over the battle.
By the time of that clash, Loko had cancelled out an early Dinamo goal to lead 2-1 on goals from Grigory Denisenko and Jakub Nakladal. At the start of the second period, the two combatants watched from the box as Anton Lander went behind the net to set up Pavel Kudryavtsev for the 3-1 goal, but Ryan Spooner quickly got Minsk back into contention with a backhand finish. Midway through the game, Francis Pare was ejected for slashing and that major penalty soon became a two-man advantage for the host. Magnus Paajarvi Svensson cashed in, diverting a Rushan Rafikov effort into the net.
Dinamo needed a response at the start of the third and got it thanks to Teemu Pulkkinen’s power play goal. But Lokomotiv was not about to yield; barely a minute later, Maxim Osipov made it 5-3 and an Artur Kayumov goal completed the scoring with five minutes to play.
It was a happy homecoming for Mikael Ruohomaa, Jukka Peltola and Juuso Puustinen as Sibir’s Finnish contingent put the skids under their compatriots at Jokerit. The trio combined for six points, while another Finn, goalie Harri Sateri, backstopped his team to its first win in nine games.
Sibir’s long losing streak did not prevent it from giving Ak Bars a scare in the previous game and after losing in a shoot-out in Kazan the Siberians produced another good performance here. Despite going behind early on to a short-handed goal from Brian O’Neill, the visitor tied it up on the same power play through Puustinen.
The scores were tied after the first period but Sibir went ahead with its only ‘Russian’ goal of the night when Nikita Korotkov scored off a Danil Romantsev assist in the 28th minute. Jokerit was denied an equalizer on a video review early in the third before Ruohomaa got the first of his two goals. That one was assisted by another Finn, Jyrki Jokipakka; his second went into an empty with help from Peltola.