Salavat Yulaev posted a fifth consecutive victory to maintain the pressure on Avangard at the top of the Chernyshev Division. Home goalie Juha Metsola returned to the team and produced his second successive shut-out, having missed Friday’s shoot-out victory at home to Dinamo Riga.
The first period was competitive, with Denis Golubev’s line giving the Tigers some bite on offense. However, it was the home team that sunk its claws into the scoring when Geoff Platt deceived his opponent, fired in a shot and saw Alexander Kadeikin convert the rebound.
Once in front, Ufa took control after the break. Dmitry Kugryshev hit the post, Teemu Hartikainen missed by millimeters and Sergei Svetlov even called a time-out as his team faced mounting pressure on Evgeny Alikin’s net. However, the resistance could not last for ever and Rodion Amirov made it 2-0 before Hartikainen scored two more. The Finn therefore extended his record breaking season — now with 26 goals and 33 assists, while Grigory Panin’s two helpers pushed him past the 100-point mark in his KHL career.
The big news from this game was on the Metallurg teamsheet, where the captain of the club’s juniors made his debut. Why such a big story? Because the young forward is none other than Andrei Mozyakin, son of Metallurg captain and freescoring legend Sergei. In recent years, Mozyakin senior spoke of his hopes that he might play in the KHL alongside his son before the end of his career and today that dream came true.
The pair started the game on a single line, enjoying a 63-second shift together before Andrei reverted to the 13th forward role more typical for a rookie on his big-league debut. And the rest of the game was dominated by two other forwards — Sergei Plotnikov for Magnitka and Phil Varone for Barys.
Those two both scored doubles. After a scoreless opening frame, Plotnikov broke the deadlock seconds after the restart, only for Varone to respond quickly on the power play. Towards the end of the middle stanza, Varone struck again to give Barys the lead but Plotnikov tied it up early in the third. And, if anyone thought that the family outing at the start of the game was a hint that Sergei Mozyakin is beginning to wind down his own career, the master marksmen was on hand with an assist on that tying goal as he continues to write new records in Russian hockey history.
Minutes later, Nikolai Kulemin made it 3-2 to the home team, and that was how it finished. Metallurg recorded a 10th successive victory — and an extra special one for the Mozyakin family album.
Ivan Telegin was in the thick of this battle for CSKA, putting together a Gordie Howe hat-trick as the Army Men battled back from 0-2 down to win in Chelyabinsk.
Traktor, which handed a debut to 18-year-old Mikhail Goryunov-Rolgizer, moved into the lead as the first period was drawing to a close. Vyacheslav Osnovin’s excellent pass set up Lawrence Pilut for the opening goal in the 15th minute then, right before the intermission, Alexei Byvaltsev made it two with a shot from a tight angle.
Then came Telegin. The CSKA center got his team on the scoresheet midway through the second period, demonstrating once again that he is a hard man to halt in a battle on the slot. Early in the third, the visitor’s fourth line struck again, with Telegin among the assists on Andrei Svetlakov’s tying goal. And, to complete the trifecta of goal, assist and fight, Ivan traded blows with his namesake, Traktor’s Sergei Telegin.
The game went into overtime, with Traktor forced to endure a tough time after Lukas Sedlak’s penalty. In the shoot-out, the home team led 2-0 at one stage, but as in the game, CSKA rallied and took the verdict thanks to Andrei Loktionov’s successful attempt in sudden death.
A fine performance from the Vityaz imports steered the Podolsk club to a vital victory in its playoff battle. Two goals apiece from Justin Danforth and Mattias Tedenby made the difference in an entertaining game at Arena Mytishchi.
Although Vityaz was the team in greater need of tournament points, Red Star made the livelier start to the game. However, it was the visitor that opened the scoring through Danforth after 15 minutes. The home response was swift, with Sean Collins tying the game barely a minute later. That was Collins’ first goal for the Dragons since Feb. 2017 — a wait a 1,445 days while the forward played for Sochi.
Early in the second period, the Vityaz power play took control. First, Danforth set up Tedenby, then the Swede returned the favor and the visitor seemed to be in control. But two goals in 37 seconds brought Red Star level with Alexei Toropchenko stuffing the puck home following a Vyacheslav Leshchenko effort before Andrei Bakanov tied it up from close range.
Late in the middle stanza, Vityaz regained the lead after two video reviews. Jakub Jerabek’s point shot looped up off Jeremy Smith’s glove and dropped onto the crossbar before it was bundled into the net. First, the officials ruled that there was no high stick as the puck dropped towards the goal. Then, after a bench challenge from Alexei Kovalyov, they ruled that Fyodor Malykhin did not impede Smith on the crease.
Early in the second period, Danforth and Tedenby combined again as Vityaz went 5-3 in front. Then the visitor had a goal disallowed before Bakanov got his second of the game to set up a tight finish before the visitor edged the verdict.
Avangard continued its successful home stand with a victory at home to lowly Neftekhimik. Following wins over Lokomotiv and Dinamo Minsk, Bob Hartley returned with the same roster against an opponent that had lost its previous five games.
The visitor started well, with Alexander Bryntsev opening the scoring in the fourth minute. However, a power play at the other end saw Avangard back on level terms when Ilya Kovalchuk’s skills set up a shooting chance for Kirill Semyonov.
Avangard enjoyed long periods of control in the first period without finding a go-ahead goal, but after 26 minutes Corban Knight finally got the Hawks in front after another long spell of pressure. Neftekhimik almost tied it up immediately when Brandon McMillan hit the post, but instead the next goal went to Alexei Emelin, who beat Evgeny Ivannikov with a wrist shot that did not seem all that venomous. Neftekhimik’s frustration increased close to the intermission when Pavel Poryadin failed to convert a solo rush.
The visitor struggled to get its game going at the start of the third, but withstood a barrage of home pressure before, surprisingly, making it a one-goal game thanks to Bulat Shafigullin. However, there was no way back: Klim Kostin’s empty net goal wrapped up Avangard’s win.
Throughout this season, Dynamo’s best moments have tended to involve Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin. Today, as Shipachyov returned to his home town, he produced a goal and an assist to see off his former club.
The Muscovites made a fast start to the game and deservedly took the lead through a Yegor Bryzgalov goal in the first period. However, despite struggling to compete in the opening session, Severstal tied it up early in the second when Igor Geraskin intercepted the puck on the blue line and advanced to beat Emil Garipov.
Then came a long spell of 5-on-3 power play for the visitor. Severstal held on, but fell five seconds after returning to full strength: Jaskin set up Shipachyov and Dynamo led once more. Vladislav Yefremov extended the lead before Jaskin and Shipachyov combined once more for the Czech to make it 4-1 early in the third.
SKA avenged November’s home loss to Jokerit after edging another hard-fought battle between these Baltic rivals.
The Finns made the brighter start but it wasn’t long before SKA took the initiative and began testing young Samuel Jukuri in the visitor’s net. Marat Khusnutdinov, one of the most impressive players on Russia’s World Junior roster, marked his first game for his club since returning from Canada with some lively contributions and created the first dangerous moment of the game with a Datsyuk-esque backhander that Jukuri managed to pad away.
It wasn’t until late in the second that SKA managed to solve Jukuri and turn its pressure into a tangible reward. Khusnutdinov’s impressive performance got its reward when yet another testing shot was pushed into the path of Vasily Podkolzin, who made it 1-1.
At the start of the third, a penalty on Viktor Loov gave the Army Men the chance to get ahead and Andrei Kuzmenko duly obliged when he scored following an Anton Burdasov shot. Then Burdasov scored himself to give the home team a bigger advantage. The third goal was sorely needed, especially when late in the game Joonas Kemppainen took a penalty and Alex Grant pulled a goal back for Jokerit to set up a tense finale. But SKA held on and made it six wins in seven games.
Dinamo kept its playoff push on course with a battling win at Sochi. The Belarusians came from behind to edge out the Leopards and remain five points clear of ninth placed Spartak.
However, it took two goals in the last seven minutes to finally subdue a battling performance from the home team. Stepan Falkovsky tied the scores at 3-3 in the 54th minute, then Zack Mitchell grabbed the winner three minutes before the end of an entertaining game.
Before all that, though, Sochi led twice. Nikita Tochitsky put the home team ahead midway through the first period. Minsk responded with two second-period tallies, Rob Klinkhammer and Alexei Protas both scoring on the power play, but a short-handed goal from Vladislav Kurbatov late in the middle frame tied the scores. Early in the third, Igor Rudenkov’s power play effort put Sochi back in front, but Dinamo recovered to win it late on.
Spartak arrived in Riga knowing that only a win would do as it continues to hunt a playoff place in the West. Failing to take maximum points from the KHL’s basement club would seriously harm the Red-and-Whites’ chances of getting ahead of Vityaz.
However, Dinamo’s recent performances are better than the results might suggest, and Spartak had to battle from start to finish to edge a narrow verdict. The initial breakthrough went to the visitor, with the Muscovites cashing in on an error from home captain Miks Indrasis. His misplaced pass went to Ilya Talaluyev, who quickly released Anatoly Nikontsev for the first goal of the evening.
Much of the game was played cautiously. Spartak, anxious to preserve its lead, was reluctant to take risks; Dinamo was content to bide its time and wait for a chance to catch its opponent unawares. But when Daniels Berzins took a penalty early in the third, the visitor saw its moment. True, Dinamo killed the penalty, but just three seconds after Berzins was released, the Red-and-Whites extended their lead thanks to Artyom Fyodorov. JC Lipon continued his good individual run with a late goal for Dinamo, but with time running out this proved to be merely a consolation effort.