At the start of the week, Neftekhimik defeated Admiral in Tatarstan. However, that was merely episode one of a trilogy involving the two teams. Part II came today in Vladivostok and, in full compliance with dramatic norms, saw Admiral get a revenge victory.
On Monday, Andrei Tikhomirov blanked the Admiral offense. Today, though, he was beaten after 10 minutes when Danil Faizullin and Evgeny Grachyov out-battled Neftekhimik on the boards and set up Gleb Zyryanov for the opening goal. In the previous game, one goal was enough to decide the outcome. Today, though, was a different story. Hunter Shinkaruk quickly tied the scores, but late in the frame Admiral regained the lead thanks to some great play from Faizullin’s line. Grachyov robbed Mikhail Sidorov of the puck and produced an inch-perfect pass for Faizullin at the back door.
Although the Sailors deserved their lead at the first break, the home team had not done enough to wrap this game up. At the start of the middle frame, Ilya Fedotov tied the scores when his initial shot bounced back to him off a home defenseman. Fedotov’s second attempt beat Nikita Serebryakov to make it 2-2. After that, the visitor failed to convert its first power play of the game, then Admiral showed how it should be done. Faizullin was involved again, setting up Michal Kristof for the go-ahead goal.
Early in the third, Admiral opened a two-goal lead thanks to Nikolajs Jelisejevs’ goal. This was the first and only goal for the Sailors that did not involve the impressive Faizullin. It was also the game-winner. Late in the game, Andrei Chivilyov pulled one back for Neftekhimik, but the final storm came up just short.
Act three of the drama comes tomorrow in Vladivostok.
Spartak gate crashed the Barys birthday party thanks to a hat-trick from Shane Prince. The Kazakh club was celebrating the anniversary of its founding and wore a special uniform highlighting 23 landmarks of Kazakhstan, one for each of the team’s 23 years. However, despite an image of the Baikonur cosmodrome, this did not inspire the team to hit new heights.
Initially, the game followed the celebratory script. Nikita Mikhailis opened the scoring with a well-taken goal. He got away from the defense to score his second goal of the season.
The home team then survived a 3-on-5 penalty, but Spartak eventually tied it up late in the frame with a power play goal from Prince. He potted the rebound from Joey Keane’s shot to send the teams into the break at 1-1.
After ending the first period with a goal, Prince repeated the trick at the start of the second. Just 49 seconds after the restart he finished off a well-worked passing move. And that passing hockey was the calling card of Spartak’s game in the middle frame. That gave the visitor a significant advantage in territory and puck possession.
Oddly enough, though, the third goal came on a breakaway. Andrei Loktionov advanced down the wing, beat his defenseman and managed to get off a pass to Prince even as he fell. Prince did not waste the chance to complete his hat-trick.
Early in the third, Spartak again grabbed a quick goal. This time Alexander Khokhlachyov was the scorer, opening a 4-1 lead that Barys never looked like clawing back. Former Spartak goalie Julius Hudacek saw his game end early, but even though Nikita Boyarkin kept the visiting forwards at bay there was no way back for the home team.
Ufa celebrated the 60th anniversary of Salavat Yulaev in some style, getting a victory over table-topping Avtomobilist to close the gap on the leader. More importantly, the result snapped a six-game losing streak for the home team, while the visitor suffered a first loss in eight games
Neither coach made extensive changes to his team. Nikolai Zavarukhin handed a debut to Daniil Tarasov and selected Igor Bobkov as Avto’s goalie. His opposite number, Viktor Kozlov, handed a start to goalie Andrei Kareyev.
The home team wanted to impose itself on the game from the start, but a combination of several absentees and some poor finishing meant that there was a long wait for the opening goal. It wasn’t until late in the second period that the goalies were beaten. First, Salavat forced the puck into the net along with Bobkov. It was little surprise that the officials ruled that one out. A few shifts later, Ufa got in front with a legitimate marker: Danil Aimurzin scored on the power play to break the deadlock. However, it took just 26 second for Sergei Zborovsky to tie the game. Nonetheless, Salavat Yulaev took a lead into the intermission thanks to Shakir Mukhamadullin’s effort.
The lead was not enough to win it. Avtomobilist stepped up a gear in the third period and when Tarasov was left in space in front of the net, he found a gap in Kareyev’s defenses to mark his debut with an important goal.
That sent the action into overtime, and Salavat Yulaev secured the win thanks to Sergei Shmelyov’s goal. The birthday celebrations concluded with a long-awaited victory.
Sochi’s hopes of climbing off the foot of the KHL standings took a knock with this loss at Red Star. The Chinese franchise is second bottom of the Western Conference, but now holds a 13-point lead over the Leopards. Kunlun can entertain hopes of a playoff place, while Sochi is reduced to a battle for relative respectability this season.
Home team talisman Brandon Yip was the key figure in taking this game away from the visitor. He started with two power play goals in the first period to put the Dragons in control. Then, the KRS representative at the upcoming All-Star Game turned provider early in the second as Zac Leslie made it 3-0. Barely a minute later, Jason Fram made it 4-0.
It says much about the goaltending problems at Sochi this season that starting goalie Maxim Tretyak remained in place despite allowing four goals in 23 minutes. Understudy Pavel Buturlin is an 18-year-old, still learning his trade, and his only previous experience of the KHL was sitting on the bench during Monday’s 1-4 loss at home to Lokomotiv. With every reason to feel the game was won, Red Star’s intensity dropped a little. Sochi managed to get a goal back late in the second period through Sergei Popov.
That was never likely to spark any kind of fightback, though. Instead, Tyler Wong added a fifth for the home team at the start of the third period. Wong is an important player for KRS and his absence through injury has hurt his team. Now, though, he is heading back into form and today’s goal was his third in four games. There was time for Dmitry Zavgorodny to pot a consolation effort but Sochi was unable to escape a fourth straight loss.