Magnus Hellberg extended his shut-out streak to 138 minutes as he frustrated the Tigers here. Sochi improved to three straight wins thanks to the Swede’s solid goaltending, plus markers from Nikita Tochitsky and Vasily Glotov.
In the first period, the two teams traded scoring opportunities almost at will, with the game proceeding at an enviable pace. However, neither power plays nor equal-strength action could create a goal as Hellberg and his opposite number Evgeny Alikin made 27 saves between them.
In the middle frame, things changed a little. The tempo was still high but more errors crept into the play. The visitor seemed more comfortable in these circumstances and went in front in the 25th minute when Tochitsky went five-hole on Alikin. Subsequently, Sochi had the better of the period without extending its lead.
There was a greater urgency about Amur at the start of the final stanza, but things tended to go astray when the Tigers got within sight of Hellberg’s net. Sochi’s attentive defense kept the home team at arm’s length and formed the basis for some pointed counter offensives. However, it wasn’t until the closing stages that we saw another goal. Alikin had already gone to the bench as Amur chased an equalizer, but it was Glotov who almost immediately put one in the empty net at the other end. Glotov’s productive streak now extends to six games.
Bill Peters brought his Avtomobilist team to Vladivostok on the back of a disappointing run of one win in seven games. Moreover, the Motormen suffered 0-3 losses in their previous two outings and Peters reshuffled his lines in a bid to improve things. One of those changes, swapping Alexei Makeyev and Shane Prince, paid off handsomely: Makeyev ended Avto’s goalscoring drought, which lasted 145:16, and went on to grab a hat-trick.
Makeyev opened the scoring eight minutes into an even first period. At the start of the second, he quickly posted a second before Patrice Cormier extended the lead to 3-0. That prompted Admiral to swap goalies and bring Nikita Serebryakov into the game in place of Ivan Nalimov. Serebryakov made more than 40 saves in Wednesday’s shoot-out win over Avangard and was possibly looking forward to a rare break here after a busy season with the Sailors.
The change of goalie, plus Mark Verba’s fight with Cormier, breathed new life in the home team and Miks Indrasis, recently arrived from Vityaz, pulled one back before the second intermission. There might have been more, but Dmitry Shikin was in no mood to allow the opposition to get back into the game. With six minutes to play, Makeyev completed his hat-trick and a last-minute empty net effort from Stanislav Bocharov put the finishing touch to the scoreline.
The latest instalment of this Siberian derby had plenty to enjoy — nine goals, a fightback from 0-2 and a winning goal just 20 seconds before the hooter.
It was almost two years since Sibir had last managed to defeat Avangard and for much of that time the Hawks had been far superior to their traditional local rival. However, a hard-fought game in Balashikha gave the Novosibirsk team hope that the long wait might be coming to an end ... only for a fast start from Avangard to suggest it might be the same old story.
Arseny Gritsyuk opened the scoring in the third minute, getting back on the scoresheet after his four-game productive streak came to an end recently. He was assisted by Oliwer Kaski and the Finnish D-man delivered the second goal after seven minutes, this time on the power play. But Sibir hit back. Defensemen Trevor Murphy and Jyrki Jokipakka combined for Denis Golubev to reduce the deficit and Murphy collected his second helper of the game when Nick Shore tied it up before the first intermission. It got even sweeter for the host in the second period when Alexei Kruchinin made it 3-2. Evgeny Chesalin’s effort against the bar was a whisker away from making it four, but fortune was on Avangard’s side.
And the Hawks were not done yet. Peter Cehlarik pulled one back late in the middle frame — two goals in two games for him after a run of seven without finding the net. The Slovak got past Murphy and finished the chance himself to send the teams into the third period tied at 3-3.
Murphy made up for his failure to stop Cehlarik when he restored the home lead midway through the final frame but that still was not enough to settle the outcome. Damir Sharipzyanov surprised everyone when he arrived on the slot at the other end to make it 4-4 and seemingly send the game to overtime. However, 20 seconds before the end, Sibir’s home-grown talent Nikita Korotkov popped up with the decisive goal to settle an enthralling encounter.
Traktor’s previous game produced 13 goals in a barn-burner of a clash at Dynamo Moscow. Friday, though, could hardly have been more different. Away to Lokomotiv, the goaltenders were on top and the teams managed just one goal apiece in regulation.
Lokomotiv got in front early with a short-handed goal. Traktor’s power play broke down in center ice when Vladimir Tkachyov, a former Loko player, miscontrolled a pass and Georgy Ivanov grabbed the loose puck. Ivanov had time and space to launch a raid on Roman Will’s goal and beat the visiting netminder with a well-placed wrister.
That was a fair reflection of the first-period play, but both goalies were in good form to frustrate the forwards. When Will was beaten for a second time, midway through the second period, a bench challenge saw Artur Kayumov’s effort whistled off. While Kayumov stuffed the puck home from close range, Artyom Anisimov impeded Will, who was reprieved by the technology.
It was a deserved break for the Czech goalie — in the first 10 minutes of the middle frame, Loko outshot Traktor 9-1 and Will was the busier of the goaltenders all night. But the visitor kept creating chances, and Vitaly Kravtsov was close to tying it up early in the third period. That chance went begging, but a late power play offered Traktor a final shot at salvation — and this time Kravtsov delivered. Will went to the bench, Traktor played 6-on-4 and Alexei Byvaltsev picked out a superb cross-ice pass for Kravtsov to fire home from the right-hand circle 45 seconds before the hooter.
Kravtsov has a habit of getting clutch goals and, since his most recent return to Traktor, both games in which he found the net saw him score twice — including the game winner. Overtime gave him a chance to continue that record, but instead it was team-mate Nick Bailen who gave the visitor the verdict. The defenseman profited from some neat stick handling from Lukas Sedlak to score from close range in the fourth minute of the extras.