Salavat Yulaev’s youngsters came of age to earn their team victory in a roller-coaster of a game against Vityaz. The visitor arrived in Ufa looking to add to its collection of illustrious Eastern Conference scalps, having defeated Metallurg last time out and enjoyed a win at Ak Bars. And, with Salavat missing a host of key players, including club legend Teemu Hartikainen, there was every reason for confidence going into the game.
The early exchanges suggested that confidence was in no way misplaced. Two power play goals in the first seven minutes saw Justin Danforth and Fyodor Malykhin give the visitor a 2-0 lead. Dmitry Kugryshev pulled one back, but Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov’s second of the season restored that two-goal cushion.
But then the Ufa kids got going. Rodion Amirov, one of the most talked-about prospects in the KHL, scored his first goal in this league four seconds before the intermission. Once again, it came on the power play. Early in the second, the 18-year-old got his second. True, Vityaz went in front once more thanks to Kaspars Daugavins, but the lead lasted just 30 seconds before Ilya Baranov, another promising youngster, tied it up at 4-4. Of those eight goals, only Baranov and Grebenshchikov scored at equal strength.
The third period saw Vityaz in front for the fifth time when Mattias Tedenby struck early in the frame. But Ufa had one more rally in it, and Evgeny Lisovets tied it up with his first goal of the season as Nikita Soshnikov collected his fourth assist of the game. Amirov also picked up a point on this play.
Fittingly, the deciding goal came from another youngster. Alexei Pustozyorov, 20, made his KHL debut in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Traktor. Today he got his first goal and picked the perfect time to score it. With five minutes left to play, he put his team in front for the first time in the game and — out of keeping with what came before — there was no further scoring in the closing stages. Vityaz’ hopes were hit by a penalty on Danforth, Salavat held on for a memorable win.
Spartak snapped its four-game losing streak and halted Amur’s modest revival with a comeback win that puts the Red-and-Whites back into the playoff zone.
Amur took the lead against the run of play in the first period thanks to its Czech connection. Tomas Zohorna potted his first goal of the season, assisted by newly-signed defenseman Dominik Masin. The 24-year-old was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2014 and spent the last four seasons with Syracuse in the AHL, looking for a chance to break into the NHL. That chance never game, prompting the move to Russia, and his debut delivered an immediate contribution.
However, Masin was not destined to celebrate a winning start with Amur. Midway through the opening frame, Maxim Tsyplakov got Spartak level then, right before the second intermission, Sergei Shirokov gave the home team the lead. Shirokov’s second goal of the season needed a video review to confirm that his stick was not too high, but the officials agreed that the play was good and Spartak had the edge.
Then Spartak’s own Czech, Lukas Radil, delivered a third goal for the Red-and-Whites to take the game away from the Tigers in the 48th minute. Soon after, Maxim Ignatovich picked a fight with Mikhail Kotlyarevsky and the visiting defenseman picked up a 2+5+10 penalty. Kotlyarevsky also sat out a major. In the closing stages, Amur got on the power play and had two minutes of 6-on-4 action but could not find way back into the game. Spartak closed out the win and returned to the top eight in the West.
Dinamo Riga vs Dynamo Moscow — walkover for Dynamo
Saturday’s third game was due to take place in Riga. However, the Latvian club informed the league that, due to a coronavirus outbreak that put its players into quarantine, it would be unable to fulfil the fixture. In accordance with KHL regulations, Dinamo’s reluctance to select a team from its reserves meant that the game was forfeit and the Muscovites take the win.