The Western Conference leaders continued their impressive form with home wins over two of the leaders in the East. SKA thrashed defending champion Ak Bars for the second time this season, with Sergei Plotnikov leading the way for the Petersburg team. In Moscow, CSKA edged Avangard 3-2 thanks to two more goals from Sergei Tolchinsky. Vityaz moved into the playoff places with victory over Neftekhimik, Traktor missed the chance to go eighth in the East after losing at Barys.
Traktor missed the chance to move into a playoff spot in the East after slipping to a 1-3 loss in Kazakhstan. And there was worse news for the team – and potentially Russia’s Juniors – when forward Vitaly Kravtsov picked up an injury in the last minute of the game.
“Right now we don’t know how serious it is,” said Traktor’s head coach Alexei Tertyshny after the game. “Vitya has a badly bruised thigh, the medics are looking at him and will let us know more. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. The World Juniors are coming up and we’re hoping he can go there and play for his country.”
On the ice, Traktor took the lead in the first period through Alexander Rybakov only for Valery Orekhov to tie the scores on the power play. The 19-year-old defenseman got another power play goal in the third period before Pavel Akolzin’s empty net effort settled the verdict.
The season began with SKA handing Ak Bars a 6-1 drubbing on home ice to lift the Opening Cup. Tonight, the teams met again in Petersburg and it was a similar story for the Army Men.
Any doubts about the outcome of this game evaporated in the first period as SKA took complete control of proceedings. Patrik Hersley opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a shot from the right-hand channel and Sergei Plotnikov doubled the lead when he ghosted past a defenseman and shot home from between the hash marks. The two scorers combined for SKA’s third: Hersley’s shot was blocked, Plotnikov potted the rebound.
Ak Bars brought Emil Garipov into the net for the second period but he soon found himself defending a 3-on-5 penalty kill. The result was not surprising: SKA added a fourth when Andrei Kuzmenko converted Pavel Datsyuk’s feed. Just before the half-hour, Nail Yakupov added a fifth, wrapping up a passing move involving Maxim Karpov and Ilya Kablukov. Paul Postma got a consolation goal for Ak Bars and the third period finished without any more goals.
Two goals in 16 seconds set CSKA on the way to victory here as Avangard was punished for its penalty trouble.
After a goalless opening frame, the second session began with minors for Ansel Galimov and David Desharnais. Nikita Nesterov took advantage to open the scoring and, with CSKA still enjoying a one-man advantage, Sergei Tolchinsky added a second. The power plays kept paying off and Avangard got a goal back through Alexei Emelin after Maxim Mamin found himself in the sin bin. But Tolchinsky continued his run of form to make it 3-1 and take his personal tally to four goals in two games.
Avangard responded in the third and Denis Zernov ensured a tense finish when he made it 2-3 in the 48th minute. But the Army Men held on to make it 17 wins in a row and stay out in front at the top of the table.
Two teams needing points for their playoff pushes met in Podolsk – and Vityaz claimed a win that lifts it above Dinamo Riga into eighth place in the West.
Vityaz got an early lead thanks to Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi but much of the first period involved Joni Ortio frustrating Neftekhimik’s offense. The Finn made 15 saves, including five from his compatriots on the visitor’s first line. The Vityaz goalie was busy again in the second but once again kept Neftekhimik at bay. The host extended its advantage when Vojtech Mozik smashed home a Miro Aaltonen feed as Borna Rendulic screened netminder Fyodor Korotayev.
Neftekhimik pulled a goal back with 10 minutes to play through Adam Polasek – the Finnish accent on the night was maintained with assists from Juuso Puustinen and Mikael Ruohomaa – but Aaltonen had the last word with an empty net goal.
Torpedo took control of this one in the third period after twice trailing by two goals. Robert Sabolic struck in the 46th minute to put the visitor ahead for the first time and Anton Shenfeld made it 5-3 with 10 minutes left.
Earlier, Dinamo jumped to a 2-0 lead as Torpedo struggled with a double penalty kill. Evgeny Kovyrshin and Dmitry Buinitsky got the goals, 72 seconds apart, as the Belarusians exacted a heavy penalty. Backat full strength, though, Damir Zhafyarov quickly got one back for the visitor.
In the middle frame, Quinton Howden made it 3-1 for the home team but after that Torpedo proved too hot to handle. Zhafyarov turned provider as Andrew Calof made it 2-3 and Denis Parshin tied the game seconds before the intermission. That set up a finely poised third period and Torpedo took control to pick up its first win in five.