Spartak bounced back from a 5-0 drubbing at Amur to blank Admiral. Goalie Nikita Bespalov recorded his first shut-out of the season as Oleg Znarok’s team got back to winning ways in the Far East.
Bespalov was recalled to the team for the first time since Oct. 31, with Kaspars Daugavins also back on the ice for Spartak. But it was the goalie had made an impact from the start, making a couple of big saves in the first few minutes as Admiral began at a high tempo. At the other end, the visitor had to wait until the 13th minute for its first opportunity – but converted it to take a 1-0 lead when Dmitry Vishnevsky’s counter attack was finished off by Alexander Khokhlachyov.
At the start of the second period, Damir Musin doubled the Spartak lead and from that point on the visitor produced a disciplined display to limit Admiral’s chances. Bespalov finished with 29 saves, Spartak goes to fourth in the West.
For the third time this season, Avangard edged a one-goal win over Amur. And the Hawks got a further boost with Alexei Emelin returning to the ice for the first time since sustaining an injury the Opening Cup. The defenseman played alongside Slava Voynov and successfully completed almost 26 minutes of action.
At the other end, Avangard’s offense needed just two minutes to get on the scoresheet. Sergei Shirokov was the architect, with a great feed to set up Sven Andrighetto for the opener. Subsequently both teams had their chances, but it wasn’t until the last minute of the second period that Rob Klinkhammer got the second goal of the night as Avangard doubled its lead on the power play.
The third period saw Amur pull a goal back thanks to the skills of Tomas Zohorna. An untimely penalty for Emelin late in the game raised home hopes of salvaging at least a point, but Igor Bobkov kept the Tigers at bay.
Red Star made it two wins in a row as it completed the double over Vityaz this season. Following a 4-2 win in Podolsk, the Dragons followed up with a narrow success in Beijing and join Metallurg and Neftekhimik on 36 points in a three-way tie for eighth place in the East.
Andrew Miller clearly has a fondness for playing against Vityaz. The American forward fired a hat-trick in that road win and he broke the deadlock in this game early in the second period. Miller got in front of goalie Igor Saprykin to redirect a Ryan Sproul shot into the net. However, this was always an even game and Vityaz got level in the 34th minute. Denis Orlovich-Grudkov celebrated his first appearance for the club with a well-taken goal, circling around the Kunlun zone and holding off Jake Chelios to shoot past Simon Hrubec.
Hrubuc made a big contribution in the shoot-out, though, saving four out of five attempts to keep Vityaz at bay. Luke Lockhart potted the game-winner after Miller – who else? – was also on target.
Jokerit kept up its proud winning streak in Ufa thanks to a Marko Anttila strike midway through the third period. These two rivals, who went to a shoot-out in Helsinki earlier in the season, again traded blows throughout the game. However, the Finns went away with the victory and it is now more than four years since Salavat won at home against Jokerit.
Jokerit made a fast start here but had to wait until the 14th minute to open the scoring. Brian O’Neill got the goal, a fine effort as he went around Juha Metsola’s net and found the far corner. Midway through the game, the home team tied it up on the power play thanks to Alexei Semenov but Jokerit finished the middle frame ahead following a curious goal credited to Henrik Haapala.
In the third, the teams again traded goals. Stanislav Gareyev tied the scores for a second time; like Semenov, he scored his first of the season. But Anttila secured the win for the Finns, beating Metsola short side.
Alexander Barabanov’s hat-trick gave SKA its first win over CSKA in regular season play since the 2017/18 campaign. Six successive wins for the Muscovites – albeit separated by a far more competitive playoff series last season – gave SKA ample motivation ahead of this game, while both teams understood that tonight’s winner would go to the top of the Western Conference.
Initially, the historical formbook seemed to be dictating events. CSKA took the lead midway through the first period through Sergei Tolchinsky, marking his return to action after a week’s break. However, Barabanov cancelled that one out late in the opening session.
The home team regained the lead late in a hard-fought second period. Linden Vey took the shot and the puck found the net via deflections of Anton Belov and goalie Alexander Samonov. For SKA, it was the kind of moment that summed up its difficulties in this fixture in recent seasons.
However, that frustration found its release at the end of the third period. Belov tied the game at the start of the frame and the hard-fought battle continued. Going into the last two minutes, the teams were locked at 2-2 but then Barabanov made his winning contribution. First, the young forward put his team up for the first time on the night with 64 seconds on the clock. Then he wrapped up the win and completed his hat-trick, scoring in the empty net to end SKA’s unhappy run against its Army rival.