Admiral moved to within two points of the playoff places thanks to a victory over Salavat Yulaev – but a dramatic finale saw the visitor rescue a point before going down in a shoot-out.
The teams met two days earlier with a Dmitry Kugryshev hat-trick helping Ufa to a 6-3 win, but this time Nikolai Tsulygin’s team needed two goals in the last minute to claw back a 1-3 deficit. That late surge saw Nikita Soshnikov and Alexander Burmistrov force an unlikely tie, helped by a penalty on Admiral’s Konstantin Glazachev before Burmistrov’s equalizer.
However, it wasn’t enough to win the game for Ufa. After overtime failed to separate the teams, Martin Bakos produced the decisive attempt in the shoot-out.
Earlier, Bakos had an assist as Admiral went in front midway through the first period thanks to Shawn Lalonde. But Salavat Yulaev dominated the second session and Kugryshev created a tying goal for Alexander Kadeikin. The Sailors regained the lead early in the third, with Glazachev and Nikita Korostelyov scoring in quick succession before Ufa hit back late in the game.
Officially, this was a home game for Red Star. However, a combination of the Dragons’ travel plans and the health concerns affecting China meant the action moved to Moscow. The Army Men weren’t exactly at home either, though: rather than their usual venue at Legends’ Park, the Red-and-Blues were back on Leningradsky Prospekt – an old-school venue redolent of CSKA’s glorious past.
The present is also going pretty well for the Muscovites: top of the table and progressing inexorably through the first stage of the defense of last season’s championship. Friday’s defeat in Khabarovsk was an unexpected but relatively minor bump in a smooth path towards another tilt at top honors.
Red Star, by contrast, is engaged in a dogfight to secure a playoff place in the East. Curt Fraser’s team is in possession of a top eight spot but has played many more games than its closest rivals. Seventh place on points won turns to ninth when points-per-game is the criterion. Three successive losses on the road meant that the first week of the Year of the Rat wasn’t a happy one for Kunlun.
The first period went according to the form book. CSKA had by far the better of the game, but 17 saves from Jeremy Smith kept the scoresheet blank at the first intermission. However, that all changed early in the second when Mario Kempe unleashed his pace and burned away from the defense before firing in a wrister that Smith could not stop. He was assisted by Anton Slepyshev, whose productive streak now spans 13 games.
The Red Star goalie was powerless again in the 37th minute when Maxim Shalunov doubled the CSKA lead in emphatic fashion after Konstantin Okulov’s feed from behind the net. Then, early in the third Mikhail Grigorenko extended the lead to bring a repeat of the 3-0 scoreline when the teams met in January at the CSKA Arena.