The Railwaymen saw off a spirited Kunlun performance to secure a third straight win — but Red Star came within millimeters of forcing this one to overtime when Anton Lazarev dinged one off the crossbar in the final seconds.
Despite being eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week, Red Star put up a dogged display, twice coming from behind before succumbing to a Yegor Averin power play goal midway through the third period.
Loko survived an early storm and went in front in the seventh minute through Anton Lander, but KRS hit back at once with a well-worked goal scored by Lazarev after good work from Sergei Monakhov. The home team raised the tempo in the second period, firing in 19 shots at Jeremy Smith, but it wasn’t until the closing moments that Andre Petersson’s fine cross-ice feed set up Averin for his first of the evening.
The Dragons responded with a fine individual effort from Spencer Foo, who collected the puck in his own zone and stick-handled his way through the Loko defense to tie it at 2-2 five minutes into the third. But, once again, Lokomotiv got back in front when the home PP needed just 10 seconds for Petersson to reprise his combination with Averin. There was still late drama to come, with Kunlun getting a power play in the closing minutes and piling the pressure on Eddie Pasquale’s net, only for the piping to deny Lazarev a second goal and secure the win for the host.
Two goals from Justin Kloos decided the outcome of this game, but it was Damir Zhafyarov’s assist in the second period that grabbed the headlines. With his pass for Kloos’ second of the evening, the 26-year-old forward set a club scoring record. His tally of 54 (19+35) points this season is the best ever by a Torpedo player; the previous best was set 38 years earlier by Mikhail Varnakov Sr, whose son is currently Torpedo’s captain.
That goal put the visitor in control of this game after Torpedo scored twice in the opening stanza. With less than two minutes gone, Mikhail Varnakov Jr’s shot rebounded for Sergei Goncharuk to open the scoring. Then Kloos got his first of the game, enjoying a somewhat fortunate bounce after an attempted pass to Chris Wideman.
Zhafyarov’s big moment created another Kloos goal, but Dinamo already looked sharper in the middle frame. The home team pushed the play into the Torpedo zone in the third period and got a reward with exactly 10 minutes left when Denis Mosalyov pulled a goal back. However, the visitor closed out the game with a minimum of fuss and now stands 13 points clear of ninth-placed Sibir in the Eastern playoff race.
Severstal, battling for a playoff place, took the unusual step of resting several key players for this game. Andrei Razin named five juniors from the Almaz roster and three players usually seen in the VHL for the trip to St. Petersburg. The head coach explained that the decision was influenced by the team’s busy schedule — he wanted to give his leading players some recovery time before Friday’s visit to rock-bottom Riga — and also part of a planned effort to give fringe players serious experience as key players in a KHL game. Nikita Guslistov, the team’s 18-year-old hat-trick hero, was named as captain for the day.
Razin’s bold gambit may also have been motivated by the fact that a strong SKA team was always likely to win this game and, with a tense race for the playoffs, it made sense to target more achievable victories. Certainly, the host had little difficulty taking the points here. Anton Burdasov opened the scoring midway through the first period, converting the rebound from Dinar Khafizullin’s shot. Then, in the middle frame, Vasily Podkolzin showed his class with a break down the left that started on his own blue line and finished with the puck in the Severstal net.
The Steelmen got one back early in the third through Andrei Alexeyev, one of the players promoted to the top six for the day. However, there was no fightback to follow. Instead, Ivan Morozov restored SKA’s two-goal lead before Burdasov got his second of the game on the power play.
Two goals in a minute, twice over, gave the Blue-and-Whites a dose of derby delight against the Western Conference leader. Quickfire salvos in the eighth and 60th minutes made the difference for Vladimir Krikunov’s men.
In true derby fashion, the day began with a scuffle. Michal Cajkovsky’s hard hit on Nikita Korostelyov ruffled Maxim Sorkin’s feathers and after a quick knockdown both players were sent to the bin. It wasn’t long before Bogdan Kiselevich joined Sorkin on the sidelines and once on the power play, Dynamo took advantage. Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin combined to set up Andrei Sergeyev for the opening goal. Seconds later, it was 2-0 when Magnus Paajarvi Svensson scored his first since joining Dynamo from Lokomotiv.
At the start of the second period, Dynamo thought it had a third goal, but a review whistled off Ilya Kruglov’s effort for offside. The teams traded penalties throughout the second period, but neither power play unit could alter the scoreline.
In the third, Dynamo had the better of the game, helped by more CSKA penalties. However, the next goal was against the run of play when Konstantin Okulov pulled one back for the visitor with four and a half minutes left.
But there would be no recovery. Instead, Dynamo finished with a flourish. With time running out, Igor Nikitin called Lars Johansson back to the bench and Jaskin set up Shipachyov for an empty-net goal. There was time for CSKA to gamble once again, but the outcome was the same with Daniil Tarasov grabbing a second empty-net goal to seal the Blue-and-Whites’ second derby victory over the Army Men.
The Finns battled hard to see off a spirited Sochi team. In doing so, Lauri Marjamaki’s team continued a six-game sequence of alternating losses and wins, a run which keeps it firmly in the playoff places but leaves it vulnerable to a hot streak from its fellow contenders.
The first period produced no goals and little in the way of notable action. Jokerit played the stronger game but struggled to generate genuine chances from its statistical advantage. In the second, Sochi threatened to spring an unpleasant surprise for the host, taking the lead in the 26th minute when Kirill Petrov got a power play goal.
However, Jokerit responded with Antti Pihlstrom leading the charge. He tied the game midway through the second period when Tommi Kivisto’s pass bobbled its way through to him and he lifted a shot off the underside of the crossbar. Early in the third, Pillu struck again, with a close-range finish on the power play to put Jokerit up for the first time in the game. Midway through the third, Henri Ikonen made it 3-1 after skating along the goalline and beating Ivan Kulbakov from close range.
Throughout Sochi’s struggles, the scoring form of Sergei Shmelyov continues to impress. After his assist on his team’s first goal, he scored a goal for the seventh consecutive game to make it 3-2 with four minutes left. The forward ended up in the net along with home goalie Janis Kalnins and, most importantly, the puck; after a video review the goal was awarded and Shmelyov set a club record goalcoring streak. However, there wasn’t long enough on the clock to save the game and Jokerit moves back to fifth in the Western Conference.
Avangard arrived in Latvia with its playoff place firmly in sight. The Hawks needed just one point from this clash with the KHL’s basement club in order to join Ak Bars in the Eastern post season, and Bob Hartley’s team duly delivered the win to punch its ticket.
However, Hartley also saw reason for encouragement in his other job as head coach of Team Latvia as Dinamo’s players made it tough for the visitor. Inside two minutes, Riga was ahead thanks to a Martins Dzierkals goal. The home team was good value for that lead at the end of a competitive first period in which the stats were far closer than the gap between the two teams’ league standings.
But Avangard responded at the start of the second period and two goals in three minutes put the visitor on top. Denis Zernov tied the game on 22:09 with Ilya Kovalchuk among the assists, the Alexei Emelin added the eventual game-winner.
The action remained gritty and hard-fought to the last: a shot count of 19-20 points to a game of few chances at either end and no quarter asked or given. Dinamo saved its best hockey for the third period, when it spent more than four minutes attacking Igor Bobkov’s net, but it was a tribute to the visiting defense that the goalie was rarely troubled in that time and guided his team to tight but valuable victory.