Spartak came into the game seeking revenge for a 4-5 loss at home to CSKA earlier in the season. Oleg Znarok’s team also knew that a win would open up a more comfortable gap in the race for a playoff spot. As a result, the home team made the brighter start but, finding it hard to break down the visiting defense, was gradually pushed back in a scoreless first period.
CSKA’s power play is in mighty form at the moment and early in the second the Army Men converted their first chance with a man advantage. Shalunov got the goal, whipping in a one-timer from the top of the circle in a manner that evoked images of Alexander Ovechkin. That made it nine power play goals from the last 18 attempts for CSKA — a frightening conversion rate.
The visitor had the puck in the net once again later in the middle frame. Swiftly moving from defense to offense, Pavel Karnaukhov fired in a shot from the left and Sergei Andronov forced home the rebound. But the charge up the ice was slightly too quick — an offside call cancelled out the play.
Later in the game, CSKA’s power play was trumped by its Red-and-White equivalent. The game-changing sequence began when Mikhail Naumenkov took a major penalty after hooking his stick between Ilya Talaluyev’s legs. Spartak responded by hitting the Army Men where it hurts. First, Sergei Shirokov tied the game with a fine piece of finishing. He collected Artyom Fyodorov’s pass while standing to the right of goalie Julius Hudacek and quickly spun to slide the puck across the face of the net and in at the far post.
Next, Shirokov turned provider when he sent a dot-to-dot pass for Jori Lehtera to unleash his one-timer. Two goals inside 90 seconds gave Spartak the lead seconds before CSKA returned to full strength.
Once the Army Men were back to a full complement, however, it wasn’t long before they tied the game. Anton Slepyshev was the architect, conjuring a scoring chance out of nothing when he chased the puck behind the net. Mario Kempe got on the end of his feed to fire home his fifth goal of the season and move us into overtime.
The gamewinner was not long in coming — and it was down to a moment of inspiration from Okulov. The forward twisted his way past two Spartak players and found a pass to eliminate a third from the game. Shalunov, taking up a wide position on the right, gave the feed the finish it deserved, wiring a one-timer beyond Julius Hudacek to decide the outcome.
CSKA’s third successive victory moves the league leader up to 36 points. Spartak remains eighth in the West after losing to its Moscow rival for the second time this season. The Red-and-Whites are two points clear of Vityaz, but have played two games more.