After two defeats in Vladivostok, Neftekhimik got its first victory in the Far East on the road at Amur. Head coach Oleg Leontyev brought back Bulat Shafigullin, Sergei Kuptsov and Mikhail Sidorov, each of whom missed Saturday’s loss at Admiral.
Neftekhimik opened the scoring with a short-handed goal. Shafigullin made a great interception, skated into the Amur zone and, after drawing the attention of all the defending players, slipped a pass to Maxim Berezin for the first goal of the game and Berezin’s first of the season. The rest of the first period was evenly matched. However, Amur’s greater willingness to shoot was neutralized by Neftekhimik’s determination to block shots.
However, right at the start of the second period, Neftekhimik could no longer block those shots. Amur got a power play goal right at the start of the session, as Likhachyov marked his return with a goal. Twenty seconds later, Denis Vikharev put his team in front. Nikita Grebyonkin was close to adding a third, but Neftekhimik held on. After earning a couple of penalties, the visitor got a goal back on the power play. There was an element of good fortune about the equalizer, as home defenseman Viktor Baldayev inadvertently steered the puck into the net after it bounced off the back boards. Ilya Fedotov was credited with the goal, moving him to three for the season. By the intermission, Neftekhimik managed to regain the lead when Shafigullin fed the puck to the slot from behind the net and Rafael Bikmullin forced it home.
A one-goal margin never looked likely to be enough to secure victory in regulation. Neftekhimik played a simple defensive game in the third period and for long periods this was effective. However, Amur’s determination got its reward in the closing minutes. Alexander Sharov fired in a shot, the pucked bounced off Vladislav Leontyev’s leg and dropped straight onto Ivan Nikolishin’s stick. He had a simple task to score into an open net and tie the game at 3-3.
At the start of overtime, Likhachyov had a one-on-one break. Evgeny Mityakin could only deny the home team’s young forward with the help of an illegal challenge, and that gave Likhachyov a second chance with a penalty shot. Again, Mityakin won the duel, and play continued. In the final minute of the extras, Andrei Chivilyov grabbed the winner for Neftekhimik to boost his team’s hopes of getting into the playoff places.
Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist rallied from 1-3 to beat Barys in overtime. The visitor, struggling for form this season, reshuffled all four lines ahead of this game, while the Motormen welcomed back captain Sergei Shirokov after a two-month absence. Vladimir Galkin returned to the home goal after a break since Nov. 8.
Galkin’s return proved to be brief. After just five minutes he was out of the game with his team down 0-2. Nikita Mikhailis opened the scoring in the first minute and Yegor Petukhov converted a terrific lofted pass from Yegor Shalapov to double the advantage.
However, in the second period Barys eased off on its fast pressing game. That handed Avto’s forwards the initiative, always a risky strategy. And the first line was instrumental in reducing the deficit: Stephane Da Costa produced a great pass from behind the net and Viktor Neuchev, a young forward who gets intermittent opportunities on the top line, scored from the slot.
The third period continued in similar vein. Avtomobilist attacked and Barys tried to defend. Nikolai Zavarukhin switched up his attacking combinations during the intermission, which if nothing else brought about renewed movement and energy. The tying goal came from Pavel Kulikov, center on the fourth line. Earlier in the game he spent some time receiving treatment after taking a stick to the face. However, he returned in time to score a vital goal, albeit helped by a deflection off Kirill Savitsky as the visiting forward tried to block the shot.
Avto came closest to winning it in regulation, but had to wait until the extras. The home team started overtime on the power play, and Ebert got his second of the game to win it.
Lokomotiv recorded a fourth straight victory, defeated Avangard in a topsy-turvy game. For the Hawks this was a second loss in three games following a nine-game winning streak.
The two teams got off to a lively start. Midway through the first period, we might have seen the opening goal at either end of the ice. First, Loko’s Georgy Ivanov went around the net to set up Daniil But, only for Vasily Demchenko to make a big save to deny the youngster. Avangard replied immediately, with Corban Knight getting to the slot in time to apply a dangerous redirect to a shot from out wide. Ivan Bocharov managed to repel that attack.
Shortly after that, Lokomotiv took the lead. Defenseman Rushan Rafikov joined the attack, went right around the net and fired the puck to the slot. He got a kind bounce off Viktor Svedberg’s skate and saw the puck slip through Demchenko’s five-hole. Almost immediately, Arseny Gritsyuk went close at the other end, but Lokomotiv held onto its lead until the first intermission.
In the early stages of the second period, Lokomotiv had the better of the game and could – perhaps should – have extended its lead. Instead, though, missed chances came back to haunt the host. Midway through the action, the lively Gritsyuk burst down the left channel and fired the puck towards the net, where Vladimir Tkachyov was waiting to steer it past Bocharov. Then, in the 35th minute, Alexei Bereglazov thumped in a shot from the point to give the Hawks the lead.
The visitor was unable to go on and win the game, though. In the third period, Loko hit back. First, But got his first KHL goal to tie the game. Then, midway through the session, Stepan Nikulin restored the Railwaymen’s lead. Rafikov’s stretch pass released Denis Alexeyev down the wing and he got the puck to the slot for Nikulin to score. Avangard twice came close to tying it up: Gritsyuk rang the iron with five minutes to play, and in the closing moments Tkachyov saw his shot beat Bocharov, only for Nikita Cherepanov to clear off the goal line and preserve his team’s lead.
Alexander Samonov made his debut in goal for Severstal following his move from SKA and his recovery from injury. Samonov arrived in Cherepovets following Vladislav Podyapolsky’s journey in the opposite direction. Today’s game represented a first chance for fans of his new club to see Samonov in action, and also gave him a chance for revenge after an unhappy outing against Sibir for SKA a couple of weeks ago.
In the opening frame, Samonov faced five shots and stopped all of them. His opposite number, Denis Kostin was rather busier but neither team could make a breakthrough in the first period. The deadlock was broken in the second period when visiting defenseman Trevor Murphy took a double minor for high sticks. Severstal converted both penalties with Alexander Suvorov scoring both goals. The second came after Murphy had left the penalty box but had yet to assume his place in the game.
However, Sibir launched a big fightback to win the game. Before the second intermission, Taylor Beck reduced the deficit when he beat Samonov with a penalty shot. Then, in the 46th minute Valentin Pyanov tied the game before Nikita Shashkov's short-handed tally decided the issue in Sibir’s favor.
A 10-goal thriller in Moscow saw CSKA recover from three goals down to beat Vityaz. Visiting forward Scott Wilson scored a hat-trick on the defending champion but was still on the losing side after a big fightback from Sergei Fedorov’s team.
Fedorov left several players out of his roster, including Pavel Karnaukhov. CSKA’s head coach gave several younger players a chance to show what they could do. For a time, it seemed that gamble might backfire as Vityaz jumped to a 3-0 lead. It was a goal rush that came out of nothing. CSKA dominated the opening exchanges, outshooting the visitor 10-1, but in the last five minutes of the opening stanza the opposition burst into life. Wilson scored twice, sandwiching a tally from Vladislav Kara.
The middle frame started with a fight between CSKA’s Sergei Plotnikov and Vityaz’ Yegor Voronkov. The Muscovites assumed complete control of the play, denying Vityaz any time on the puck. The shot count concluded 25-1 in the home team’s favor. Igor Saprykin put on a goaltending masterclass, but the pressure eventually paid off and he was beaten by Nikita Nesterov and Andrei Svetlakov to put the home team right back in the game.
There was little change in the third period. Saprykin continued to defy the home offense until the 50th minute, when 19-year-old Matvei Vasin recorded his first KHL goal to tie the scores. It seemed that CSKA would cruise to victory from that point, but Wilson had other ideas. He completed his hat-trick and restored the Vityaz lead. With seven minutes left, could his team hold on for an unlikely victory?
Another fight followed, as Takhir Mingachyov tangled with Yaroslav Busygin and the assorted penalties from that incident were still counting down when Maxim Sorkin tied the game in the 55th minute. Two minutes later, Svetlakov made it 5-4 but CSKA still had to kill a penalty to seal the deal. The home team did just that, with Nesterov adding a short-handed goal into the empty net to wrap it up.
Four days after defeating Dynamo in Minsk, the Belarusian Dinamo repeated the trick in Moscow. Although the home team had a point to prove, especially after the decisive major penalty on Vladislav Mikhailov – which cost the Muscovites three goals – was cancelled by the disciplinary committee the day after the game, it was the Bison who came out on top by a big margin.
The home team started fast. Fittingly, perhaps, Mikhailov opened the scoring in the ninth minute and within 30 seconds Jordan Weal doubled the home advantage. However, that was as good as it got for Moscow in this one. A power play goal late in the first period saw Artyom Demkov pull one back just days after he rejoined the club from Spartak. After that, the visitor took command.
Minsk scored twice at the start of the second period, with Ryan Spooner tying the scores before Roman Gorbunov made it 3-2. That ended Ilya Konovalov’s evening in the home net, but Konstantin Volkov was soon beaten by Gorbunov to give the Belarusians a two-goal lead.
Hopes of a home fightback took a fatal blow early in the third when Vitaly Pinchuk added a fifth. Demkov’s second of the game sealed the win. Craig Woodcroft’s team celebrated back-to-back victories after losing five in a row; Alexei Kudashov’s men faced back-to-back losses after its own two-game winning spell.