Amur made it four wins in a row to close to within five points of the playoff places. The upwardly mobile Tigers were indebted to goalie Evgeny Alikin’s sixth shut-out of the season in this victory over neighbor Admiral, and now trail the Sailors by just two points.
Alikin was at his best in the first period, when he helped Amur kill a 3-on-5 situation. Then, at the start of the second, the visitor opened the scoring when Danil Faizullin fired home from a tight angle. Home goalie Alexander Trushkov made several good saves to keep the score down, but he was beaten once more in the 37th minute by Vladislav Ushenin. The third period brought two more goals for the visitor as Denis Golubev and Igor Rudenkov signed off on an encouraging day for Amur.
It might be almost a month until the end of the regular season, but there’s already a high likelihood that Sibir and Avtomobilist will meet in the opening round of the playoffs. The teams look set to finish fourth and fifth, and today’s game suggested that there isn’t a lot between them when they go head-to-head as they went to overtime for the third successive encounter.
Sibir twice led in the first period. Finnish D-man Jyrki Jokipakka got an early opener with a double power play for the home team. However, Peter Holland tied it up midway through the frame. Then Jokipakka’s compatriot Mikael Ruohomaa made it 2-1 late in the stanza and this time the lead lasted.
There were no goals in the second period, and it wasn’t until the teams found themselves playing 4-on-4 that Avto responded early in the third. This time, Geoff Platt was the scorer. His goal took us into overtime with the scores at 2-2 and with no further scoring it needed a shoot-out to settle the outcome. Ruohomaa was the only player to succeed with a penalty shot, and that was enough to give Sibir its third win of the season against the Motormen.
Metallurg got a much-needed boost with a win over Avangard. The overtime success lifts Ilya Vorobyov’s team into seventh place, ahead of Kunlun Red Star, and maintains a four-point gap over ninth-placed Admiral as the race for the playoffs heads to the final straight.
However, this was far from straightforward for a team that had just one win in six games and earlier in the day announced that it was parting company with experienced forward Denis Parshin. Further absentees included Dennis Rasmussen and Alexei Bereglazov, while illness ruled out Maksim Matushkin and Nikita Pivtsakin. A week ago the teams had met in Balashikha, with Avangard powering to a 6-1 win, and the early stages favored the Hawks again.
However, despite having the better chances, Avangard could not convert first period supremacy into goals. By the time Denis Zernov gave the visitor the lead late in the second period, Metallurg was already asking more questions at the other end.
That pressure delivered early in the third when Viktor Antipin tied the scores. It remained at 1-1 until deep into overtime before Nikolai Kulemin got the winner. Relief for Metallurg, but growing concerns for Avangard as a third straight loss sees it lose ground on conference leader Ak Bars.
The Eastern Conference’s top team had little difficulty in dispatching Vityaz and recording its seventh successive victory. The result opens a four-point gap over Avangard at the top of the table, and Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team has two games in hand on its closest rival.
Dmitry Yudin gave the home team an early lead with a power play goal and Justin Azevedo added a second before Vityaz hit back through Alexei Makeyev. But there would be no big fightback. Instead, Ak Bars added two more in the second period to make the game safe. Artyom Galimov scored early, Albert Yarullin in the last minute and the result was clear with 20 minutes left to play.
Just in case anyone had missed the memo, Ak Bars underlined its point with another goal at the start of the third. This time it was Stanislav Galimov on target as Igor Saprykin found life no easier than Ilya Ezhov in the Vityaz net. The visitor kept fighting and got a goal back through Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov but that was a mere consolation effort.
Both these teams came into the game on a three-game losing run that placed both of them in great difficulty in their respective playoff races. For Severstal, beaten by an aggregate scoreline of 1-12 in those three games and without a goal for seven periods, this was approaching a crisis.
And there was little let-up in Nizhnekamsk. True, the visitor managed to cancel out Ildar Shiksatdarov’s opener. However, it had no answer to the prowess of Zack Mitchell, who restored the home lead on his way to carving out a hat-trick.
Dynamo has had some serious scoring talent in the KHL era: Jiri Hudler, Mattais Weinhandl and even the great Alexander Ovechkin have worn the Blue-and-White in this league. But Dmitrij Jaskin today eclipsed all-comers when he scored his 27th goal of the season to set a new record for the team in the KHL regular season.
Jaskin’s big moment also took his current productive run to seven games, and cancelled out an early opener from Loko’s Yegor Averin. After that, Dynamo moved on to claim the victory in a game that could prove to a be a dress rehearsal for this year’s playoffs.
The Czech forward turned provider midway through the second period, getting an assist on Vadim Shipachyov’s go-ahead goal. And midway through the third, the home power play delivered as Vladimir Bryukvin made it 3-1.
Spartak had enjoyed three victories over SKA this season, with head coach Oleg Znarok seemingly well aware of the weaknesses of his former club. However, since getting to a place where one victory would secure a playoff place, the Red-and-Whites have stumbled. It could have happened on Saturday, but a surprise 0-4 derby loss to Dynamo prevented it. Today’s second attempt, at home to SKA, also ended in failure as the Red-and-White offense misfired once again.
Znarok made six changes to the team that lost to Dynamo, while SKA made just one adjustment to the team that defeated Avangard in overtime. Former Spartak man Yaroslav Dyblenko missed out on facing his former club as Danila Galenyuk returned to the team.
Spartak began at a high tempo and had two good chances in the opening minutes. However, it was SKA that opened the scoring with its first attack of the game. The Petersburg youngsters were involved again, with Kirill Marchenko and Vasily Podkolzin combining to set up defenseman Anton Belov to make it 1-0.
At that stage, few would have expected a low-scoring game. However, Belov’s effort turned out to be the only goal of the game. Jarno Koskiranta hit the bar for SKA, Spartak was increasingly limited to counter attacks and the visitor closed out the win.
Two goals in the first period from Petri Kontiola enabled Jokerit to wrap up this game quickly. The result sees Dinamo – playoff hopes long extinguished – slip to a 10th successive loss while the Finns built on a 5-0 win at Lokomotiv in their previous game.
Peter Regin opened the scoring with a power play goal midway through the first period before Kontiola got started. He scored in the 13th and 17th minutes to open a 3-0 lead that Dinamo would never seriously test.
The home team did manage more of a fight as the game went on. Mikelis Redlihs pulled one back in the middle session and Vitalijs Pavlovs made it a one-goal game in the third. But Jokerit always had something in reserve and Regin added an assist to his earlier goal as Steve Moses made it 4-2 with eight minutes to play.