Sibir playoff bid ran into a roadblock in the shape of Amur goalie Evgeny Alikin. He made 43 saves to deny the visitor in Khabarovsk, leaving Nikolai Zavarukhin’s team 12 points adrift of the top eight with just seven games left.
At the other end, Sibir handed Arseny Akhmetov his first KHL start. The 21-year-old previously appeared twice as an understudy for HC Sochi. His teammates did a good job of easing his introduction into the game, limiting Amur to just four shots in a goalless opening session. Alikin had far more to do, and his acrobatic stop to deny Jyrki Jokipakka is likely to be heading to a highlight reel near you very soon.
Amur went in front at the start of the second period with only its sixth shot on target in the game. Valentin Pyanov tried his luck from a tight angle and although Akhmetov seemed to have his angles covered at the near post, the puck somehow slipped through his defenses. Denis Golubev doubled the home lead late in the frame, finding the net seconds after Ilya Khokhlov returned from the penalty box.
Alikin was beaten at last in the 45th minute when Alexander Sharov set up Oleg Li. That offered Sibir a way back into the game but those hopes were dashed late on when Mikael Ruohomaa took a needless penalty in the offensive zone and Pyanov punished Sibir with his second goal of the night. For the second time in three days, the Tigers beat the visitor 3-1 and, in doing so, lengthened the odds on Sibir making the playoffs.
The Steelmen boosted their playoff prospects with a victory at home to Lokomotiv. The win lifts Andrei Razin’s men six points clear of ninth-placed Spartak and closes to within a point of Dinamo Minsk in sixth.
Kirill Adamchuk started things off with a goal in the sixth minute. The defenseman now has three goals in two games after waiting 59 games to open his KHL account. And his team took the game away from Loko in the second period with two more goals. Nikita Makeyev made it 2-0 with a short-handed effort, then Shawn Lalonde took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to extend the lead.
Lokomotiv, which is already assured of its playoff place, fought back. Andre Petersson pulled a goal back before the intermission, then Anton Lander scored early in the third to make it 2-3. But when Makar Khabarov scored a fourth for Severstal in the 53rd minute, the game was beyond the Railwaymen’s reach.
Dinamo gave Western Conference leader CSKA a real fright before falling to Brendan Leipsic’s overtime winner. The KHL’s basement team was close to reprising its shock success at league leader Ak Bars when it went 3-1 up at the Army Men. However, a third-period fightback spared the Western Conference top dog.
Arriving in Moscow, Dinamo knew that it would take a disciplined display to halt the Army Men’s march. Igor Nikitin’s team is looking to secure yet another regular season title and Tuesday’s game looked like a home banker. But the visitor had other ideas. The first period was a fine display of game management, with few chances for the host as Dinamo worked hard to stifle the CSKA offense.
Frustration took its toll, and Riga began the second period on the power play. Martins Dzierkals took advantage and the underdog had the lead. It didn’t last long, initially. CSKA hit back with a power play goal of its own from Konstantin Okulov but within 18 seconds Andris Dzerins put Dinamo back in front. A coach’s challenge denied CSKA a second equalizer before JC Lipon made it 3-1. The 26-year-old Canadian’s productive streak now spans five games and totals 9 (4+5) points.
CSKA wouldn’t take that lying down. The home team stepped up the tempo in the third period and got a goal back with six minutes left when Maxim Mamin’s rising shot went over the glove of Janis Voris. And within 90 seconds, the Army Men tied the scores through Nikita Soshnikov, who got his fourth goal since swapping Ufa for Moscow.
Into the extras, and Leipsic made the difference. He collected a pass from Andrei Loktionov and, despite being fouled by a defenseman, managed to get off a shot that was good enough to beat Voris.
Avangard extended its lead over Salavat Yulaev at the top of the Chernyshev Division, and looks well placed to take second spot in the Eastern Conference behind Ak Bars. The Hawks posted a third straight win and now has a four -point advantage over Ufa. Both teams have seven games left to play. Dinamo, meanwhile, missed the chance to move ahead of Jokerit into fifth place in the West.
Avangard’s Reid Boucher and Corban Knight have forged an effective partnership this season, and they were the players who made the difference in this game. The goals took time to come: the first period was scoreless, with Avangard enjoying slightly the better of the game, and it wasn’t until late in the second that the Hawks unlocked the Minsk defense. Knight won his battle in the corner, the puck went to Boucher and he took it to the net and beat former Avangard goalie Dominik Furch.
The home team started the third stanza on the power play, and Knight added to his earlier assist when he collected a Klim Kostin feed and stuffed the puck through Furch’s pads. That was Kostin’s second helper in the game. Knight made the result safe with his second goal of the evening, arriving at the back door to convert Sergei Tolchinsky’s feed and make it 3-0. Igor Bobkov fielded 34 shots but was robbed of a shut-out late in the game when Rob Klinkhammer got a consolation goal for Dinamo.