Vityaz ended its long wait for a goal, but was unable to get the better of Salavat Yulaev with Markus Granlund contributing two points in the visitor’s win.
These are difficult times for Vityaz, with just one win the previous seven games, and it rather summed up the home team’s fortunes when it fell behind late in the first period. The game had been even, and Vityaz arguably enjoyed the best chance of the opening exchanges when Fyodor Malykhin got through on Alexander Sharychenkov’s net. However, the Ufa goalie denied that chance. Then, the first power play of the game saw the visitor take the lead. Nikolai Kulemin was the scorer, converting a rebound after Markus Granlund played the puck to the slot.
Both of these teams rely heavily on their Finnish contingent for scoring power, and the home equalizer was very much made in Suomi. Valtteri Kemilainen’s long pass released Miro Aaltonen, who had plenty of work to do before beating Sharychnkov with an early shot. After failing to score in the previous two games, the relief was evident for Yury Babenko’s team. However, Salavat Yulaev regained its lead in the 36th minute through Grigory Panin.
Two quick goals midway through the third period saw Dinar Khafizullin and Teemu Hartikainen put the game beyond Vityaz’ reach and brought Maxim Kloberdanets into the home net in place of Ilya Ezhov. The 20-year-old, making only his third appearance in the KHL, did not allow any further goals but Ildar Shiksatdarov’s effort at the other end was only a consolation.
At the start of this game it looked as if Barys had found the answer to its recent struggles. The visitor arrived in Moscow on a run of three straight losses and is losing ground in the race for the Eastern playoffs. New signings during the international break — both familiar faces and a KHL rookie in the shape of Tomas Jurco — did not bring an immediate lift and the Snow Leopards lost 5-2 at Sochi on their return to action.
Spartak’s recent form was no better though, and in the first period Barys took charge of the game. Nikita Mikhailis and Yegor Petukhov scored, and in between there was another goal ruled out after a video review. In a battle of two teams looking for form, it seemed that the visitor had found it.
However, that upturn lasted just 20 minutes. As the second period progressed, Spartak got back into the game with goals from Alexander Khokhlachyov and Jori Lehtera tying the scores. Tim Heed assisted on both.
The outcome was settled midway through the third period, with Spartak scoring three goals in as many minutes. Lehtera’s second of the night put his team in front for the first time, and it wasn’t long before the Red-and-Whites built on that advantage thanks to Dmitry Kugryshev and Alexander Nikishin. Barys swapped goalies, but with less than eight minutes to play there was no time to salvage the game and the visitor remains four points adrift of eighth place in the East. Spartak, meanwhile, consolidates its grip on a playoff spot, opening a three-point gap to Torpedo in ninth.