SKA’s emphatic victory in Moscow confirmed its place in this season’s playoffs and also ensured that Lokomotiv cannot be caught by Spartak. However, the implications of this game might be more significant for the Red-and-Whites, who have now lost five of their last six games and continue to trail Vityaz in the race for the last playoff spot.
For head coach Oleg Znarok, three times a Gagarin Cup winner and once a runner-up, it might be the first time since 2009 that he has failed to lead a team into post season. For the visit of his former club, that meant a big reshuffle and a welcome return for forwards Sergei Shirokov and Jori Lehtera as well Dmitry Vishnevsky assuming his accustomed place in the first defensive pairing.
However, it did not add up to a winning formula. Midway through the first period, SKA scored two goals in a minute and after that the result was not in doubt. The home team’s problems were evident throughout the opening frame, with just three shots on SKA’s net as the Army Men dominated. Lukas Bengtsson and Joonas Kemppainen scored two goals within 18 seconds to put the visitor in control.
The second period began with a fight between Danila Galenyuk and Mikhail Kotlyarevsky and the teams shared 16 minutes of penalties during the session. However, the only goal came late in the frame — with a full complement on the ice — as Ivan Morozov extended SKA’s advantage.
SKA took another penalty at the start of the third, but Spartak was unable to take the opportunity and ended up allowing a goal. Evgeny Ketov, noted as something of an expert in scoring on the PK, got his 20th short-handed goal in the KHL. Midway through the third, Anton Burdasov wrapped it up with a power play goal and extended his productive streak to four games.
Artyom Galimov produced a contender for goal of the season to set Ak Bars on the way to victory over Red Star. The 21-year-old scored his first of 2021 late in the first period, opening the scoring in a game that was closer than the league standings would suggest.
There seemed to be little danger when he brought the play into the Dragons’ zone, but two fantastic pieces of stick-handling saw him open the scoring. First, Galimov dragged the puck through his own legs to beat Jake Chelios then, after flying in front of Jeremy Smith’s net, the forward once again managed to play behind his own back to score.
The second period saw Red Star have some good chances to tie it up, but once again Ak Bars produced a touch of class just before the hooter. This time it was Dmitry Voronkov on the blue line, showing great control and vision to set up Daniil Zhuravlyov for a well-placed shot under pressure from Vojtech Mozik.
The visitor got a deserved goal back midway through the third thanks to Alexei Toropchenko, who stuffed home Gleb Shashkov’s point shot at the second attempt. But Ak Bars secured the win when Trevor Murphy’s power play goal left his former club with too much to do.
After 40 minutes of this game, few would have taken Salavat Yulaev as the likely winner. The visitor was down 0-2 and had managed just nine shots at Henrik Karlsson in the home net.
Barys enjoyed itself in the first period, dominating the game and opened that two-goal lead thanks to efforts from Kirill Panyukov and Nikita Mikhailis. The second period was similar in terms of who created the chances, but this time the visitor kept Barys off the scoresheet while killing three penalties.
However, in the third period Salavat Yulaev turned the game around. A combination of physical fitness at the end of a long road trip and mental resilience in a losing situation helped the visitor claw back that two-goal deficit and take the game to overtime. Both goals came around the midway point in the period, with Philip Larsen and Sakari Manninen finding the net.
The winner came in overtime when Salavat Yulaev defenseman Alexander Alexeyev continued his habit of scoring on Barys. He finished off a one-on-one break to score his third of the season against the Kazakh team. The victory moves his team level on points with Avangard at the top of the Chernyshev Division.
Two games in two days proved too much for Jokerit as the Finns went down to a heavy home defeat against Metallurg. The Eastern Conference visitor confirmed its playoff place with Thursday’s victory at Spartak and stretched its winning streak to seven games with this result.
Metallurg got off to a great start, with Dennis Rasmussen opening the scoring in the first minute. Jokerit’s problems increased when Aleksi Halme was removed from the game for boarding in the sixth minute, and Taylor Beck added a power play goal as Metallurg turned the screws.
After dominating the first period, Metallurg got a shock at the start of the second when Sami Lepisto brought the home team back into contention with an early goal. But the pattern of the game did not change greatly. Almost immediately Andrei Chibisov made it 3-1 and Magnitka was close to a fourth shortly afterwards when it took a video review to confirm that Janis Kalnins had made his save. That reprieve proved temporary, however, with Igor Shvyryov making it 4-1 on 34 minutes. At the other end, Jokerit had a review of its own after dinging a shot against the post, but once again the officials gave it the thumbs down after watching the replays.
Beck scored his second power play goal of the night early in the third to put the game out of reach and the closing stages saw Jokerit try to restore some pride. The home team did at least manage to control the game in the last 15 minutes, and only the post denied Veli-Matti Savinainen a consolation goal. Understudy goalie Samuel Jukuri came off the bench for the closing stages and stopped everything that came his way.