Jokerit captain Peter Regin got his first goal since returning to the team — and it proved to be the game-winner in Friday’s meeting with Dinamo Riga.
The Dane, who left the club at the end of last season but agreed to return at the start of this month, potted Jokerit’s second of the night on a delayed penalty in the ninth minute. Before that, Niklas Jensen punished Dinamo’s first penalty of the night to open the scoring while Toni Sund sat in the fifth minute.
And penalty trouble kept mounting up for the Latvians. Late in the first period, Emils Gegeris took a minor and Henrik Haapala made it 3-0 at the start of the second. In keeping with the evening’s overall theme, though, the visitor got on the scoreboard thanks to its first power play of the game: Martins Dzierkals found the net after 26 minutes.
The fourth and final Jokerit goal changed the script slightly. Marko Anttila scored at equal strength, but Dinamo’s Jordan Murray went to the sin bin for slashing in the build-up. For the first time in the game, a team managed to survive on the PK and there would be no more scoring in the third period.
Metallurg came from behind three times before winning this game and avenging its home loss to Avtomobilist a week ago. Yegor Yakovlev could not continue his four-game productive streak, but the defenseman did get the shoot-out winner. The result produces a logjam at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Motormen, on 21 points, move to the top; Metallurg, in fifth, is just one point behind.
The game began with a flurry of scoring: inside 15 minutes the score was 2-2. Vyacheslav Litovchenko and Brooks Macek twice gave the home team the lead, Semyon Koshelev and Sergei Plotnikov twice tied it up. Early in the second period, the familiar Datsyuk-Makeyev axis delivered once again and Alexei claimed his 10th goal of the season, moving to 16 points and leading the KHL’s scoring race.
That made the score 3-2, familiar figures for two teams who have produced that final scoreline five times in the last six meetings. This time, though, it was not the end of the story. Metallurg gradually took control of the game and began the third period strongly. Avto was unable to repeat the intensity of the first two periods and Harri Pesonen deservedly tied the scores with six minutes to play.
Overtime revitalized the host, but understudy goalie Juho Olkinuora kept the attack at bay. His opposite number, Jakub Kovar, had little to celebrate, though. Yakovlev’s winning penalty shot bounced off the post, hit the Czech’s back and fell into the net to give Metallurg the verdict.
Dinamo got back to winning ways as Kunlun Red Star continues to struggle. The Chinese club welcomed back Cory Kane, one of its longest serving players, but was unable to find a winning formula in Minsk.
The first period was goalless, although Dinamo had the better of the play. And the action warmed up in the second, starting with a fight between Dmitry Znakharenko and Viktor Baldayev. Znakharenko gave his opponent 10cm and, initially, it looked like Baldayev had the edge in this bout. But the Dinamo men hung on as the two heavyweights battled to a standstill. Both received major penalties to recover.
While they were in the box, Dinamo took the lead. Rob Klinkhammer and Dmitry Buinitsky combined to set up Vladislav Yeryomenko at the back door. But the Belarusians could not finish the game off. Alexander Kogalev failed with a penalty shot after Francis Pare was taken out by the on-rushing Dmitry Shikin. Red Star sounded a warning when Danny Taylor was forced into a fine full-stretch save to preserve that lead. Then Yegor Sharangovich saw a goal disallowed when he stuffed home the rebound after great work from Ivan Drozdov. The video review showed that Sharangovich kicked the puck into the net. In the end, an empty net goal credited to Igor Martynov after he was fouled while bearing down on the unguarded target sealed the win for Dinamo, but Red Star can take consolation from a competitive performance.
Yakov Trenin scored his first goal for SKA since arriving on loan from the Predators — and set his temporary employer on the way to victory over struggling Sochi. The 23-year-old left winger produced an assured finish inside the first 90 seconds after Andrei Kuzmenko sent him into the danger zone.
That early goal did not open the floodgates. Sochi remained competitive in the first period without finding a way back into the game. Early in the second, though, a SKA power play saw Anton Burdasov step forward from the blue line and fire home a second goal for the host off Igor Ozhiganov’s feed.
The visitor continued to battle, outshooting SKA 13-5 in the middle frame, and when Sergei Shmelyov converted Igor Rudenkov’s pass from behind the net at the start of the third, it looked like it was game on. Markus Nilsson thought he had tied the scores when he batted the puck into the net, but the video review ruled that his stick was high and SKA kept its lead.
Sochi’s luck was right out when Linden Vey made it 3-1. The Canadian’s shot bounced off a defenseman on the slot and squirmed through Joel Lassinantti’s pads to take the game away from the visitor. A couple of minutes later Evgeny Ketov added a fourth but the outcome still was not beyond doubt. Sochi roared back with two late goals — Daniil Ogirchuk, once a SKA prospect, scored his first KHL goal on 58:06, then Malte Stromwall made it 3-4 with a minute left to play.
Sochi called a time-out and plotted one last surge, SKA dug in to resist. Shmelyov prompted one last anxious moment, but the home team clung on to take the win.