Yu Sato’s goal in the final second of overtime earned Torpedo the tightest of verdicts over Severstal. Igor Larionov’s team bounced back from its defeat at Vityaz to climb to third in the Western Conference, while Severstal’s loss prevented it from returning to the top eight.
The Steelmen had grounds for optimism on arrival: after a long run of indifferent form, Severstal had taken two wins from its last three, and looked capable of defeating Spartak in its previous game until a late fightback from the Red-and-Whites. That translated into a first period that saw the visitor do a good job of neutralizing a dangerous Torpedo offense. Then, late in the frame, the first power play of the evening saw Kirill Pilipenko give Severstal the lead.
In the second period, the pattern of play almost reversed. Now, Torpedo had more scoring chances. Again, it took a power play to produce a goal: Sergei Goncharuk extended his goal streak to six games, potting his eighth goal on that run.
That was enough to take us to overtime. And it looked like we would see a shoot-out as well. However, in the final second of the extras, Yu Sato converted Igor Larionov Jr’s pass to win it for Torpedo.
A week ago, under interim head coach Alexei Zavarukhin, Spartak snapped its losing streak with a 2-1 verdict at CSKA. Seven days later, the latest instalment of this capital city rivalry saw the defending champion cross town in search of vengeance.
Sergei Fedorov had a new opponent behind the bench: Igor Grishin, handed the job at Spartak until the end of the season, could boast an unbeaten record in the KHL after wins over Dynamo and Torpedo. Grishin is unafraid to call on the players he had at Khimik Voskresensk, Spartak’s VHL farm club, and that confidence was rewarded right at the start of this game. Kirill Kozhevnikov had a handful of Spartak appearances already this season, but today he got his first KHL just two minutes into the action. The 23-year-old gobbled up the rebound from an Ilya Talaluyev shot after it cannoned into Adam Reideborn’s pad, giving the home team a perfect start.
After that, CSKA began to get the upper hand. Spartak had to kill three penalties and played much of the game in its own zone. However, Alexei Krasikov dealt with everything that came his way to preserve a 1-0 lead until the intermission.
CSKA came out for the second period determined to put that right, and the visitor did so with two goals in two minutes. Vitaly Abramov converted Andrei Svetlakov’s great backhand feed from behind the net, before Pavel Karnaukhov made it 2-1 on a counterattack.
The action wasn’t done yet. Spartak found a rapid response and tied the scores 60 seconds later. Timur Khairullin fired the puck in from the boards and a deflection off a CSKA skate took it past Reideborn. It looked like the game would be tied at the intermission, but in the final minute Takhir Mingachyov restored CSKA’s lead when he stuffed the puck home following Konstantin Okulov’s shot.
Although the visitor continued to press, and CSKA built a commanding lead on the shot count, the game was very much alive until midway through te third period. Then, however, a penalty on Yegor Savikov opened the door for the defending champion to kill the game. Sergei Plotnikov duly converted the power play when he fired home Mikhail Grigorenko’s defense-splitting feed.
Despite Spartak’s efforts in the closing minutes, that was the end of the scoring. CSKA completed a third successive victory and now has a three-point gap over third-placed Torpedo. Spartak suffered its first loss under Grishin, but remains in the top eight a point in front of Severstal.