In theory, this game should have been a home banker. Sibir, out of the playoff race for some time, had nothing much to play for, while Barys is looking to finish as high as possible in the final standings to give itself the best chance of post season progress. However, the outcome proved to be very different.
The first period was evenly matched, but neither team could take advantage of the chances it created and the scoreboard was blank at the first intermission. However, Sibir picked up the pace in the middle frame, taking the lead early on through Vladislav Ushenin and adding two quick goals at the midway stage. Ushenin potted his second of the game, followed by Dmitry Sayustov. Barys replaced starting goalie Henrik Karlsson with 21-year-old Denis Karatayev, who made his KHL debut after several appearances as an unused understudy.
With Barys looking to ease the newcomer into his KHL career, the home team spent more time in Sibir’s territory. However, it was unable to reduce the deficit. Instead, midway through the third period, Oleg Li extended the visitor’s lead after his shot looped over Karatayev’s initial save.
There was still time for more scoring, with Danil Romantsev adding a fifth for Barys before Nikita Mikhailis potted a late consolation for Barys. That robbed Anton Krasotkin of a shut-out, but did little to improve the outcome of the Kazakh team’s final home game in the regular season.
Although there is just one week left in the regular season, this game was the first meeting between these teams — with the rematch scheduled for next week in Sochi. The Motormen were looking to improve on their eighth place in the East, with a view to avoiding a difficult opening round playoff match-up against Ak Bars. Sochi, meanwhile, is looking to stay ahead of Neftekhimik and Kunlun Red Star and claim a top 20 finish in the overall standings.
Sunday’s game was dedicated to the battle against children’s cancers, and both teams took to the ice with special logos on their uniforms.
Early in the game, Sochi had to kill a double penalty and managed it with the help of the piping. However, in the 14th minute Avtomobilist got in front when a quick attack saw Dmitry Zhukenov’s pass pick out Alexei Makeyev for a simple finish. Soon afterwards, the home team scored a power play goal when Pavel Datsyuk marked his return to action by potting the rebound from Brooks Macek’s shot.
The tempo remained lively in the second period as Sochi threatened to get back into the game. Early in the third, Avtomobilist goalie Jakub Kovar collided with Sergei Shmelyov and took some time to recover. Maybe the Czech was still shaken by that clash a few shifts later when Shmelyov scored a short-handed goal to put Sochi right back into the game. At the other end, Maxim Tretyak swatted the puck off the very goal line as Avtomobilist looked to restore its two-goal lead before Kovar confirmed he was suffering no lasting damage with a good save of his own at the other end.
Then came a crazy final minute. Sochi tied the game 43 seconds from the siren thanks to Igor Rudenkov, but that effort seemed to be in vain when Makeyev got his second of the game to restore Avto’s lead on the next shift. All was not lost, though: in the final second Sochi tied it up once more thanks to Ivan Mishchenko. Nikita Tochitsky’s assists on those two late Sochi goals took him to 101 points in the KHL, and helped the game into overtime. However, he could not help his team to victory, with Avtomobilist getting the verdict in the shoot-out.