Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Barys continued its upturn in form, but Dinamo suffered a ninth successive defeat in this re-arranged game. The teams were due to meet on Sep. 18 but the game was cancelled due to COVID precautions.
In its previous game, Barys scored a power play goal to beat Kunlun Red Star. Not only did that halt a four-game skid, it also brought the first PP tally in five outings for the Kazakh team. Today, they built on that, potting two more power play markers either side of the first intermission. Linus Videll got the first as Andrew O’Brien sat for roughing. It was the Swede’s 100th KHL goal. Then, after Mikelis Redlihs was penalized for hooking just before the break, Curtis Valk doubled the home lead at the start of the second period.
It wasn’t long before Matt Frattin, who got his first goal of the season against Red Star, found the net again. This time it was a short-handed goal for the Canadian to make it 3-0 in the 25th minute. Dinamo, with head coach Peteris Skudra still absent due to illness, started to get more of the play after that but the fightback always looked too big for the Latvians. In the end, the game faded away in the third period with neither side creating many chances. Joni Ortio stopped 26 shots for his second shut-out of the season.
Barys stays 10th in the East despite the win, but closes to within a point of the playoff places. And, after a quarantine-affected start to the season, Yury Mikhailis’ team has plenty of games in hand on its rivals for a top-eight finish.
Jokerit, still struggling with a long sick list, produced a battling performance to grab the win beside the Black Sea. A third-period comeback from 0-2 and 1-3 saw the Finns head home with the points despite a late Sochi equalizer to force overtime.
There was a hint of controversy about the game-winner, with Sochi believing that Peter Regin had taken out home goalie Joel Lassinantti as Brian O’Neill fired in the winner. However, a video review ruled that the Danish forward was pushed onto the paintwork by a Sochi D-man and the goal stood. Regin’s assist saw him pass 200 points in the KHL.
Defeat was hard for Sochi to swallow. Apart from a dramatic late equalizer, the host produced a far stronger display on offense this season. Typically, the Leopards struggle to score more than two in a game — today they got four.
It all started early in the second. Rafael Batyrshin opened the scoring after a couple of minutes with a shot from the center point. Soon after, Nikita Tochitsky went round the back to set up a power play goal for Sergei Shmelyov. Goals on the PP have been rare sights in Sochi this season, with the Leopards running an 11.3% conversion rate thus far; improving that stat might, in the long term, prove more significant than opening a 2-0 lead here.
Jokerit struggled to get its game together after those setbacks. The Finns had nine players on the injury list, including leading scorer Mikko Lehtonen and captain Marko Anttila and a much-reshaped roster lacked fluency under pressure.
Early in the third, though, the visitor pulled a goal back as O’Neill stretched his productive run to six games. He set up Niklas Jensen for the score after Peter Regin’s efforts in the corner forced a defensive error. Sochi responded quickly with Tochitsky restoring that two-goal lead when he forced home the rebound from Oleg Pogorishny’s shot.
However, a quick-fire double from the Finns tied the game up midway through the third. First, Jakub Krejcik smashed one home from the blue line before, 28 seconds later, Veli-Matti Savinainen redirected Henrik Haapala’s shot past Lassinantti. The visitor then killed a penalty with some ease before taking the lead for the first time in the game when Haapala sent Jordan Schroeder down the right and he surprised the goalie with an early shot to the short side.
With more than two minutes to play, Sochi called Lassinannti back to the bench in favor of an extra attacker. That bold decision came close to backfiring but got its reward with 20 seconds left on the clock when Daniil Miromanov fired home. Jokerit claimed there had been a foul in the build-up, but the officials were unmoved and the game moved into overtime.
Then came O’Neill’s winner — he’s now on 9 (2+7) points from six games — to lift Jokerit back into the playoff places. And the win was particularly sweet for defenseman Tommi Kivisto. The Jokerit blue liner was playing his 300th regular season game in the KHL — only the 11th Finn to do so — but ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline.