Avtomobilist went top of the Eastern Conference after halting Traktor’s three-game winning streak. The Motormen move to 23 points, level with Avangard, but takes top spot on goal difference.
Traktor made the brighter start to proceedings, helped by a minor penalty for Anatoly Golyshev, but it was Avtomobilist who opened the scoring. Golyshev’s pass sent Pavel Datsyuk beyond the visiting defense and the Magic Man obliged with a backhand finish past Roman Will.
The opening frame ended in controversy. Chay Genoway and Lukas Sedlak both received game penalties. The first was for Genoway’s slash at the Czech, the second was for a retaliatory head-butt from the Traktor forward.
The middle session was goalless, but while Avtomobilist enjoyed more of the play, Traktor’s counterattacks looked threatening. And, in the third, one of them delivered. The visitor was short-handed but that didn’t stop Alexei Byvaltsev bursting through to tie the game.
However, Avto would not be denied. The power play continued and the home team regained the lead almost immediately through Andrei Obidin. Then came Datsyuk’s second of the day, converting a deceptive pass from Nikita Tryamkin. Datsyuk collected three points in the game, as did Alexei Makeyev. The two currently lead the KHL scoring race.
For the second time this season these teams traded six goals in regulation and needed a shoot-out to find a winner. This time, though, Minsk came out on top to record a second successive victory and draw level on points with SKA in the top three in the Western Conference.
Minsk took the lead three times in the game and was pegged back on each occasion. Midway through the first period, Alexei Protas claimed the opening goal when he brought the puck out from behind the net and fired it into the danger zone. A deflection off a Latvian defenseman beat Ilya Proskuryakov. However, Zack Mitchell tied it up for Riga with a power play goal.
The middle frame followed a similar pattern, with Dmitry Buinitsky making it 2-1 halfway through, only for Mitchell to get his second of the night late in the session. And the third frame brought a power play goal for Yegor Sharangovich to restore Minsk’s lead. Ivan Drozdov then had a great opportunity to extend the advantage, but failed with his penalty shot. Soon after, Konstantin Komarek tied it up at 3-3 and the game was on its way to the extras.
The shoot-out went a bit like the game. Twice Minsk got ahead, twice Riga tied it up. But Rob Klinkhammer had the final attempt, knowing that he could deliver the points if he scored. The Canadian made no mistake, wrapping up the win and leaving Riga stranded at the foot of the Western Conference.