Vityaz picked up a famous victory at home to CSKA as the Army Men lost ground at the top of the KHL table. The Muscovites now trail Ak Bars by four points, while Vityaz moves level on points with eighth-placed Jokerit in the race for a Western playoff place.
The game was evenly fought throughout. Vityaz got in front in the first period when a fine pass from Kaspars Daugavins set up Justin Danforth for a ninth-minute goal. CSKA thought it had tied the game in the middle stanza, but a review found that Maxim Shalunov’s stick was high and his goal was whistled off.
That prompted Vityaz to raise the tempo. The home team created plenty of chances but failed to convert a double power play as visiting goalie Alexander Sharychenkov kept CSKA in the game. His efforts were rewarded in the third when a power play at the other end saw the Army Men draw level thanks to Konstantin Okulov.
The game’s pivotal moment arrived on the next CSKA attack. Brendon Leipsic forced the puck home at the second attempt but a long look at the video uncovered an offside in the build-up. Once again, the visitor was denied by a review. More conventional misfortune befell Danil Yurtaikin. He was sent clean through on goal, but Ilya Ezhov robbed the young forward of a debut goal following his return to Russia from San Diego.
Just as overtime seemed the likely conclusion, Vityaz stunned CSKA with a winning goal. Daugavins, so instrumental in the opener, fired in a deflected shot that wrong-footed Sharychenkov. The home team led with less than two minutes to play, and ran down the clock calmly to secure a valuable victory.