After moving up to third in the Eastern Conference, Sibir is looking to consolidate its place among the leaders. A fourth consecutive victory, delivered with a more comfortable scoreline than the balance of play might suggest, moved Andrei Martemyanov’s team three points clear of Admiral and four ahead of Salavat Yulaev.
Clinical finishing made the difference here. Midway through the first period, Vladimir Butuzov advanced to open the scoring. Shortly afterwards, defenseman Ilya Morozov linked up with the offense to double the lead. Taylor Beck had a helper on that one, extending his productive streak to seven games (two goals, six assists).
In the middle frame, Amur had more possession and posed a greater threat to Anton Krasotkin in the home net. However, the Tigers were let down by poor finishing. At the other end, a great pass from Alexei Yakovlev set up Dmitry Ovchinnikov at the back door to make it 3-0.
Evgeny Oksentyuk’s first KHL goal got the visitor back into the game, but Amur’s lack of precision going forward again proved costly. A misplaced pass on the power play invited Alexander Sharov to race away and add a shorthanded goal. That brought an end to Evgeny Alikin’s game, with Janis Kalnins taking over on his return from injury.
Kalnins prevented any further goals for Sibir, but at the other end Krasotkin was equally assured as the home team closed out the win in a scoreless final frame.
Avangard’s winning streak ended after nine games as Spartak took the points in Omsk. The Red-and-Whites’ improvement under Igor Grishin continues, spoiling Christian Jaros’ return to action after injury. Jaros wasn’t the only significant new face among the defenses. Maxim Chudinov made his Spartak debut against the club where he won the Gagarin Cup in 2021.
Full of confidence, Avangard looked to establish itself an early advantage. However, Spartak played a solid defensive game, making it difficult for the home offense to enjoy extended possession in front of Alexei Krasikov’s net. All too often, attacks involved a solitary forward trying to force a breakthrough on his own, something that was simple enough for the visitor to handle. It wasn’t until the first power play of the game, midway through the session, that Avangard began to test Krasikov. However, the visitor held on and then dominated the remainder of the frame, outshooting Avangard 12-0 after Igor Chibrikov returned to the game.
Spartak kept up that level of play in the second period. A strong press in center ice made it impossible for Avangard to assume any control of the play and it was no surprise when Maxim Tsyplakov opened the scoring for the visitor. Falling behind, Avangard was still unable to generate offense despite a couple more power plays. Instead, the next goal went to Spartak when Tsyplakov and Alexander Khokhlachyov set up Joey Keane on the PP. Late in the frame, Khokhlachyov went clean through on Vasily Demchenko’s net but the home goalie kept his team in contention with a big save.
In the final stanza, the Hawks began to work Krasikov a bit harder. However, Spartak continued to defend well and limited the opposition to half chances. The Muscovites showed little inclination to gallop into the attack, primarily focusing on careful defense in center ice. That frustrated home team began taking penalties, and Chudinov made his former colleagues pay with a third goal.
That wasn’t quite the end. Reid Boucher, Avangard’s leading goalscorer, denied Krasikov a shut-out in the final second. However, that had no impact on the final result and represented the only minor blot on a good day for Spartak.
Prior to this game, some reports suggested that Oleg Znarok’s position as head coach at Ak Bars would be under threat if his team lost. The man himself was typically dismissive of any hint of a problem, insisting that the team was getting its game together and would ultimately deliver the expected results.
Znarok’s actions were not entirely in tune with his words. Kirill Petrov and Danis Zaripov were scratched from a line-up that got a boost from the return of Nikita Yevseyev after injury. More strikingly, 21-year-old forward Ilya Safonov was named captain. He claimed that status ahead of the likes of Vadim Shipachyov and Alexander Radulov, who would clearly expect to be senior figures on any team.
Victory for Barys here would lift the Kazakhs into the top eight at Ak Bars’ expense. Andrei Skabelka’s team had already won in Kazan in October, but it was almost immediately in trouble here. Ak Bars got the game’s first power play in the third minute and turned it into the opening goal. Shipachyov combined with Stanislav Galiyev to open up the ice, and Dmitry Voronkov had a routine finish from close range. Even though Kirill Semyonov went to the box just seconds after the opening goal, Barys was unable to find a quick response. Its power play struggled to test the visiting defense.
In the second period, though, the home PP got a better chance to show what it was all about. Ak Bars began the middle frame with a procession of penalties and a 5-on-3 power play eventually bore fruit when Alikhan Asetov forced home a tying goal. The visitor continued to make its own problems: on the power play, Ak Bars took a too many men penalty, then Radulov went to the box for simulation. Barys had an 18-2 advantage in shots in the second period, and may feel it should have turned that into a lead on the scoreboard.
For a time, it seemed that the third period would continue in the same vein, with Ak Bars taking another unnecessary penalty just 10 seconds into the session. Slava Voynov was the guilty party, but he redeemed himself once back in the game, restoring his team’s lead in the 46th minute. The goal may have come against the run of play, but it proved decisive. The visitor began to reassert itself once in front, and the last charge from Barys came up short in the face of some solid late defense.
Ilya Vorobyov claimed his 300th KHL victory with a narrow verdict over Salavat Yulaev. The win keeps Metallurg second in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of Sibir. For Ufa, itself a previous leader, this was a sixth straight loss.
Given his recent problems, Salavat Yulaev head coach Viktor Kozlov made significant changes to his line-up. Sergei Shmelyov joined Nikolai Kulemin and Alexander Kadeikin on the top line, Stepan Sannikov and Alexander Chmelevski returned to the team and the defensive pairings were reshuffled. Metallurg had fewer changes, although Nikolai Goldobin’s return granted Andrei Chibisov a rest.
In front of a full house, the teams produced an entertaining spectacle. There were good chances at both ends from the very start but Metallurg was the first to score. In the sixth minute, Grigory Dronov’s shot caused problems and Yegor Korobkin fired in a follow-up effort that beat Ilya Ezhov. On closer inspection, it transpired that Mikhail Fisenko got the crucial touch to put the puck beyond the goalie’s reach.
Fisenko was soon at the heart of things again, getting into a heavyweight bout with Ufa’s power forward Evgeny Timkin. The visitor won the fight, but Fisenko was now just one step away from a ‘Gordie Howe hat-trick’ inside the first eight minutes. He didn’t get to complete the treble, though, failing to collect an assist in the remainder of the game.
At the other end, Salavat Yulaev had a goal disallowed when Alexei Pustozyorov’s effort was whistled back for offside. Ufa comfortably outshot Metallurg in the opening session. Then, in the second period, Danil Alalykin dinged one off the piping for the visitor. Almost immediately Magnitka went to the other end and doubled the lead. Denis Zernov also clipped the frame of the goal, but his shot found the inside of the post and went into the net.
For long periods after that, Metallurg knocked Salavat Yulaev off its gameplan and was able to control much of the action. However, in the third period the home team seemed to ease off too early. Midway through the final frame, Shmelyov gave the visitor hope when he beat Eddie Pasquale from close range. However, that was as close as Kozlov’s team got; Vorobyov got to celebrate his milestone.
Avtomobilist stays on top in the East, but it took a dramatic fightback to beat Traktor. A goal from Nick Ebert in the final second saved this game, and Jesse Blacker completed the recovery in overtime.
The teams made an energetic start, with Traktor looking particularly sharp in the early exchanges. That helped the host open a 2-0 lead in the first period. Sergei Shumakov scored on his former club, punishing Avtomobilist’s first penalty of the evening. Later, Mikhail Kotlyarevsky produced a fantastic solo goal, deking his way through the defense to double the lead. Avtomobilist wasn’t without chances of its own, but could not find a way to reduce the arrears before the intermission.
Although the second period was goalless, there was no shortage of offensive intent. The teams traded 24 shots on target and both goalies had plenty to do. However, a 2-0 lead suggested that Traktor would hold on to secure the victory with relatively little drama.
The Motormen had other ideas. Stephane Da Costa got the goal that started the fightback, winning his battle on the slot and stuffing the puck home. Ebert assisted on that one, extending his productive streak to five games. However, the defenseman had a bigger contribution to make at the very end. The clock was showing 59:59 when Ebert potted a tying goal and took the action into overtime.
In the extras, Avto kept its nerve and secured the win thanks to another defenseman, Jesse Blacker. The victory keeps the Motormen out in front thanks to a seven-game winning streak.