This was a clash between two of the more unpredictable teams in the KHL and, true to its billing, it kept the fans guessing from start to finish. Dynamo blew a two-goal lead, saved itself with a 59th-minute goal and finally succumbed in the extras after a hugely entertaining encounter.
Early on, it seemed that the Blue-and-Whites had the edge. The home team took the lead in the second minute when Vladislav Yefremov stole the puck and skated through to score on Juha Metsola. Then another rapid Dynamo raid saw Evgeny Biryukov misjudge the trajectory of an Andrei Mironov feed, enabled Vyacheslav Kulyomin to double the lead.
After that, the game settled into a more even contest. However, Ufa struggled to generate much danger around Ivan Bocharov’s net in the first period and it wasn’t until late in the second that the visitor got on the scoreboard. Markus Granlund found the net, applying the redirect to a Teemu Hartikainen effort after the Finn used his body well to fashion a shooting chance. And early in the third, Hartikainen was once again heavily involved in a goal for his team. This team he won a battle on the boards and served up a dish for Sakari Manninen to shoot home from a tight angle.
The teams traded chances as they looked for a winner, and it seemed that Salavat Yulaev snatched the verdict when Philip Larsen’s point shot made it 3-2 on 58:05. But Dynamo was not done. The home team regrouped and tied the game 38 seconds later. Yefremov got the vital goal, reacting fastest to the rebound after Kulyomin tested Metsola on the wraparound.
Dynamo began the extras on the PK, but after neutralizing that threat the home team came close to winning it when Mironov fired a shot into Metsola’s pads only to see the visiting defense get the puck clear of danger. At the other end, though, Salavat Yulaev got the decisive goal. Larsen’s shot was blocked by Bocharov but the puck went to Nikita Soshnikov for the winner.
The battle to be SKA’s #1 goalie is one of the more intriguing sub-plots of the current season. Swedish international Magnus Hellberg is the man with the experience, but he faces a real challenge to his status with the rise of teenager Yaroslav Askarov and the arrival of on-loan netminder Mikhail Berdin, back from North America.
In Cherepovets, Hellberg got the nod — and responded with his first shut-out of the season to secure a third straight win for his team. He stopped 39 shots on a day when Severstal battled fearlessly with its illustrious opponent but was undone by superior finishing from the visitor.
The opening goal arrived after nine minutes, and brought a first point for Oscar Fantenberg in his third appearance for SKA. The Swedish blue liner picked up an assist as Andrei Kuzmenko made it 1-0. Fantenberg’s recent arrival means the Army Men have six imports on the books — and that might make Hellberg’s performance all the more important as he looked to persuade Valery Bragin that he has a role to play in the foreign legion.
Another import, Miro Aaltonen, got the second goal early in the middle frame. The Finn was on target for the third game in a row to keep SKA firmly in contention with KHL leader CSKA.
Traktor’s PK kings added two more short-handed goals to their tally on the way to victory over Red Star.
The in-form visitor dominated the game from the off, but took the lead in unlikely fashion. Defenseman Sergei Telegin, who achieved fame with a freakish goal against Dinamo Riga last month, was at it again when he fired in a routine point shot and celebrated after it looped crazily off a Red Star stick and dropped behind the unfortunate Dmitry Shikin in the home net.
In the middle frame, Traktor extended its lead in the league’s short-handed scoring race. Alexander Avtsin and Yaroslav Kosov were beneficiaries of turnovers from the home PP. Traktor now has eight shorthanded goals this season, while Red Star was more concerned about sliding to a fifth successive loss.
The Dragons managed to hit back. Luke Lockhart got the team on the scoreboard late in the middle frame and a power play tally from Danny Kristo at the start of the third meant it was game on. But Kosov’s second of the evening game Traktor some breathing space before the teams traded goals in a frantic final minute.
The biggest win of the day came in Moscow, where league leader CSKA had no trouble overpowering Sochi. And it was a big day for Yegor Afanasyev, a Russian international forward who scored on his KHL debut.
The writing was on the wall early in this game for the visitor, with the Army Men marching into a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Konstantin Okulov opened the scoring before Anton Slepyshev found the net for the third game in a row.
Sergei Andronov got his first of the night to make it 3-0, and the third period turned into a procession as Sochi endured a day to forget. Afanasyev celebrated his KHL debut with the fourth goal of the game; the 19-year-old is back in Moscow on loan from North America and, unusually, played for Team Russia before featuring in a senior game in the national championship. After two goals at the Karjala Cup, he now has one in the KHL. A couple of minutes later, he had his first assist in the league as well, setting up Mat Robinson as the defenseman marked his return to action with a goal. Then came Andronov’s second of the night and, late in the game, Nikita Korostelyov made it 7-0.
On paper, this should have been a close game. The two teams were adjacent in the league table and both needed a win to gain some breathing space in the race for a playoff spot in the West. However, Spartak delivered a dominant display, all but killing the game in the first period and easing to a convincing victory.
The Red-and-Whites enjoyed a good start to the game, with Anatoly Nikontsev’s penalty shot opening the scoring and Ilya Talaluyev’s power play tally increasing the lead. Vityaz threatened to make a game of it when Danila Moiseyev pulled one back but another power play saw Lukas Radil make it 3-1. Andrei Zubarev added a third late in the opening frame, and the visitor was well on top.
Midway through the second period, Spartak added a fifth as Vityaz was let down by more ill-disciplined play. Mattias Tedenby and Yegor Voronkov sat in the box and Sergei Shirokov converted the 5-on-3 advantage. That ushered in a brief revival, with Justin Danforth scoring on the power play before Tedenby got it back to 3-5, but there was no way Spartak would let this one slip away.
Instead, the visitor shut the game down for long periods in the third and finally sealed the win with a couple of late goals. Nikontsev scored into an empty net before Radil had the final say with a short-handed effort. For Vityaz, it was a day when ill-discipline proved costly.
Based on form, this game should have been a straightforward home win. But throw local pride into the equation, and everything changes. Ak Bars managed to get the verdict against its Tatar neighbor from Nizhnekamsk, but the visitor produced a performance that belied its lowly ranking to push the Eastern Conference leader all the way.
Throughout the KHL era, Ak Bars has been a model of sustainable success. And today, Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team took to the ice in a unique, sustainable uniform made out of recycled plastic bottles. However, there was a real danger that the jerseys would quickly go from ‘pre-loved’ to ‘unloved’ when Neftekhimik took the lead after just 27 seconds through Libor Hudacek. The Slovak’s productive streak extends to four games.
It was a test of the home team’s bottle, and Kirill Petrov proved that Ak Bars was up to the challenge with a tying goal after eight minutes. Neftekhimik’s problems continued at the start of the second when Bulat Shafigullin was ejected from the game for slashing. It wasn’t long before a second penalty on the visitor gave Ak Bars a 5-on-3 advantage and Stephane Da Costa gave the home team the lead.
Neftekhimik wasn’t done, however, and hit back with a spell of pressure at the end of the second period. After firing a shot off Adam Reideborn’s post, the visitor tied the scores thanks to Alexander Osipov’s 38th-minute effort.
Early in the third, it was Ak Bars that hit penalty trouble. For a time the home team even had to kill a 3-on-5 situation. But gradually the conference leader got its game back together and when Neftekhimik found itself on the PK once more, the home PP did its job. Viktor Tikhonov claimed the winning goal with five minutes left; Ak Bars remains clear of the chasing back.
Dinamo’s long-running losing streak continues, but the Latvians gave high-flying Avtomobilist a real scare in this game. The visitor was looking to build on a three-game winning streak and keep up the pressure on Ak Bars at the top of the Eastern Conference, and had every reason for confidence after a 7-2 win at home to Riga two weeks earlier.
However, Dinamo was ready for a much-improved performance and took the game to its visitor from the start. Gennady Stolyarov opened the scoring in the third minute and even when Nikita Tryamkin tied it up with a short-handed goal, Riga responded to regain the lead on the same power play. Kristaps Zile was the scorer; the defenseman’s only other goal this season also came against the Motormen.
The Latvians held that lead until the interval but Dan Sexton tied it up early in the second. Then Avtomobilist began to exert control over the game. Stanislav Galimov stopped 17 shots in the second period and made 16 more saves in a one-sided third. But the home team dug in, kept the visitor at bay and took the action into overtime. It was the first time in precisely one month that Dinamo took a point from a game.
However, the home team did not have enough in the tank to snap that losing skid. Matt White was denied a winning goal right at the start of the extras and overtime was settled when Dinamo was called for too many men. Avtomobilist worked the power play and leading scorer Alexei Makeyev delivered the killer blow to consign the host to a 12th successive loss.