Vasily Koshechkin celebrated his 500th game for Metallurg with a shut-out as the league leader defeated Avtomobilist for the third time this term.
The home team was boosted by its 4-0 victory over Amur last time out, a win that halted a four-game skid. However, first-line center Stephane Da Costa was out injured, prompting Maxim Rasseikin’s rapid advance from fourth to top. Metallurg’s recent form was also unimpressive, with just one win in four. However, Ilya Vorobyov made no changes to his skaters and handed Koshechkin the start.
Against Amur, the Motormen made a fast start. Today, though, the Magnitka defense was ready. Surviving an early raid, Metallurg then went in front on a Yegor Yakovlev goal in the fourth minute. The lead gave the visitor confidence and it took some good work from home goalie Dmitry Shikin to keep the score down in the first period.
Avto’s strongest suit in this game was on the face-off spot, and that helped Bill Peters’ team to spend more time on offense in the middle frame. Koshechkin had to be alert to a bouncing puck on the slot as Patrice Cormier threatened an equalizer, and Metallurg had to kill two penalties against the most efficient PP in the KHL. The absence of Da Costa and Brooks Macek from that special team robbed Yekaterinburg of some of its potency, and the 1-0 lead carried into the final stanza.
The game-breaking moment arrived eight minutes into the third, and it was one to forget for Jesse Blacker. The home defenseman attempted a pass across of the face of his net but got it all wrong, sending the puck to Anatoly Nikontsev who was only too happy to double Metallurg’s lead. Koshechkin played out the remainder of his big day, finishing with 30 saves for his shut-out, and an empty net goal from Andrei Chibisov sealed the win for Magnitka.
Two goals from Vitaly Kravtsov led Traktor to victory over Admiral and keeps the Chelyabinsk team right behind league leader Metallurg. For Kravtsov, back home on loan from the Rangers once again, this was the second game-winning performance in five appearances, after his two goals at Barys brought an overtime win for Traktor.
Here, the 21-year-old helped his team to bounce back from Friday’s unexpected 0-1 loss against Neftekhimik. He opened the scoring midway through the first period when he emphatically converted Vladimir Tkachyov’s pass to convert a two-on-one break. That was nothing more than the home team deserved for a bright start to the game.
However, it proved difficult to build on that opening. Teemu Pulkkinen earned a penalty shot at the start of the second period when he was hauled down by Leonid Metalnikov, but the Finnish forward could not beat Ivan Nalimov in the visitor’s net. It wasn’t until midway through the second that Kravtsov potted his second of the night, this time on the power play, when he fired home a one-timer from Alexei Byvaltsev’s feed to the right-hand dot.
That breathing space proved necessary. Admiral did not always find it easy to generate offense, but managed to get a goal back with five minutes to play. Libor Sulak was the scorer, firing home after good work by Alexander Shevchenko down the right. However, the visitor could not find a way to save the game and Traktor bounced back from its recent loss.
After defeating high-flying Traktor 1-0 on Friday, Neftekhimik repeated that scoreline to see off Lokomotiv. This time, though, the game-winner was a little bit special.
It all started with a faceoff in front of the Lokomotiv net and finished with a powerful shot from defenseman Ronald Knot which beat Daniil Isayev in the visitor’s net. So far, so ordinary. But in between, Loko won possession, cleared its zone and took play to the other end of the ice before Neftekhimik regained the puck. Knot’s shot came from well inside his own zone; Isayev, caught by surprise, failed to cover his near post in time and was beaten.
Lokomotiv might have gone in front moments before that incident. Maxim Shalunov had the puck in the Neftekhimik net, but the home bench challenged the play, citing offside. The video review upheld Oleg Leontiev’s complaint and the score remained goalless.
32 seconds later, Knot got his goal. Subsequently, the focus was primarily on home goaltender Alexander Sudnitsin, who made 35 saves to deny his former club. Midway through the third period, we had another bench challenge, this time from Lokomotiv’s Igor Nikitin. He argued that Sudnitsin was not impeded as Lokomotiv got the puck in the net for a second time, but after a video review the officials determined that Yegor Korshkov had indeed fouled the goalie and the visitor was hit with a bench minor.
SKA’s problems continue: Valery Bragin’s team slipped to a sixth successive loss, the worst run in the club’s history. This one was particularly painful, coming in the latest instalment of the Army Derby against CSKA. For Bragin personally, it was an unhappy return to the team he coached back in 2013 in between spells with Russia’s U20s.
CSKA’s form was very much the opposite: five wins from six, and the sole loss coming in a shoot-out against Dynamo Moscow. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the home team quickly grabbed the initiative. After just 64 seconds, Sergei Plotnikov opened the scoring against one of his former clubs. The pressure did not relent, and on 6:34 Sergei Andronov doubled the lead. Bragin called a time-out, but to little avail; Mikhail Grigorenko quickly added a third.
That called for dramatic measures. Lars Johansson, SKA’s former CSKA goalie, left the game to be replaced by 21-year-old debutant Dmitry Nikolayev. It was a baptism of fire for the youngster, who performed admirably. CSKA would not score again.
The home team did not enjoy a repeat of its early dominance either. The middle frame saw SKA have more of the game, without looking like forcing itself back into contention. In the third, the visitor at least grabbed a consolation goal when Anton Burdasov scored in the 55th minute, but there was little hope of a fightback. At the moment, these two Armies are marching in different directions.
Sibir staged something of a smash and grab raid to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Minsk. A late tying goal saved the visitor before Oleg Li settled the shoot-out in its favor.
The early stages went well for Dinamo. The first period was not exactly stuffed with goalmouth action, but Dmitry Buinitsky converted one of the few changes that came to gave Minsk the lead in the 10th minute.
That lead endured, even if there was relatively little to get excited about at either end of the ice. Dinamo looked to be doing a good job of restricting the Sibir offense and as the clock ticked into the final two minutes it seemed that the game was almost done. However, Valentin Pyanov had other ideas. Inexplicably, the home defense left just one man back and when Sibir turned over possession, Pyanov had all the time and space he needed to advance down the right and beat Patrik Rybar.
In overtime, Dinamo tried to take the game to Sibir, outshooting the visitor 6-2 in five minutes, but failing to score. Then the shoot-out saw Li separate the teams and send the Belarusians to a fourth successive loss.