Great goals, spectacular saves and the hardest hits, starring Pavel Datsyuk, Juha Metsola and Oleg Piganovich – the KHL is proud to bring you the best moments from the eighth week of the tenth Championship.
As with last week, we begin with early pace-setter SKA. The Petersburg Army Men's 20-game winning start ended at Sochi, but they still managed to lose in style: witness Sergei Plotnikov receiving Maxim Karpov's pass and going down on one knee to whip in a powerful finish. Neftekhimik goalie Andrei Makarov is runner-up in our Top 10 Saves of this week, but even he was left helpless in the face of another fine combination from Lokomotiv pair Daniil Apalkov and Petri Kontiola. At Number 8 we have a re-appearance by SKA's feared Prokhorkin line, with Nikita Gusev supplying the coup de grace from Barabanov's assist. It is no surprise that SKA features heavily this week, and goalie Mikko Koskinen is another to make it into our Top 10 Saves, but he was certainly outfoxed by HC Sochi's Canadian forward Sean Collins, while Kunlun Red Star's Andrei Kostitsyn scored on his first game back from injury, thus doing justice to an excellent solo skate and pinpoint pass from Gilbert Brule.
Into the best five, starting with a sublime strike from Sweden's finest and Salavat Yulaev's “Red-headed Wizard,” Linus Omark, who shrugged off an attempted block behind the goal, sailed around the net, and emphatically roofed a backhand over the stranded goalie. Just ahead of Linus is his Ufa team-mate, Finnish forward Joonas Kemppainen, with a fiercely determined solo raid from the neutral zone straight through SKA territory, crowned with a deft, cool, close-range finish. This week's bronze-medal goal was the result of some fine hockey from Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod pair Vladimir Galuzin and Denis Parshin, carving their way through the Dinamo Riga defense with top-class movement, vision and timing – one to delight coaches everywhere. In second place we have the assist of the week, with Avtomobilist forward Alexei Simakov's precise, perfectly-timed pass slicing open the CSKA defense to set his partner, Evgeny Chesalin, clean through, and the latter made no mistake, masterfully sending the goalie the wrong way. That was hard to beat, but Pavel Datsyuk managed it. The talismanic Army Man had not scored since mid-September, but lest his skill set start to fade in our memories, he produced a dazzling surge from behind the goal, tamed a lively puck and a produced a beautiful finish – all in one movement.That's magic.
Ilya Sorokin of the Moscow Army Men starts our countdown with a great close-range double save against the Railwaymen from Yaroslavl, and he makes another appearance at Number 6 with an even better stop against Avtomobilist. Slovan's Jakub Stepanek showed fine reactions and legwork to prevent Alexander Chernikov tapping in a near-side rebound, and Dinamo Minsk netminder Jhonas Enroth, the best KHL goaltender of week 7, carried his good form into last week and emerged victorious in a one-on-one duel. At Number 7 is SKA's Mikko Koskinen, who was sent the wrong way by a shot from Salavat Yulaev but still managed to get his glove to the puck.
Yekaterinburg goaltender Jakub Kovar was in last week's rankings, and he begins our Top 5 this week with a remarkably swift change of direction to beat away a shot from Vityaz. Next is Konstantin Barulin of HC Sochi, producing an agile save with the left foot from a close-range one-timer that he did well to see in time. In third place is Severstal's Slovak goalie Julius Hudacek with another display of coolness under pressure, getting his right glove in the way of a shot which was bound for the roof of his net. The silver-medal spot for Week 8 was taken by Neftekhimik's Andrei Makarov, with a superb save with the stick a mere inch from the line, but the Save of the Week came from one of the most frequent names on these lists, Amur's formidable Finn, Juha Metsola, who produced a desperate and spectacular backward lunge to deflect the puck to safety.
Neftekhimik forward Ildar Shiksatdarov, with a bone-shaking blue-line bodycheck. Matt Frattin of Barys, who chose the same patch of ice as the perfect place to stop Kunlun forward Gilbert Brule in his tracks. In third place is CSKA forward Gregg Scott, who decided to test the strenth of the perimeter glass by sending Lokomotiv's Artur Kayumov hurtling into it. Both Kayumov and the glass proved tough enough, thankfully. Ak Bars enforcer Rob Klinkhammer performed the same test with Dynamo Moscow's Juuso Hietanen, only harder, but we crown our Hits of the Week at the same club where we started, Neftekhimik, and an almighty check by Nizhnekamsk defenseman Oleg Piganovich on Dinamo Minsk forward Charles Linglet. Here we must give due credit to the recipient – Linglet belied his 35 years, jumped straight to his feet, and even managed to discuss the hit with Piganovich, via some well-aimed punches.