Damir Zhafyarov reached 200 points in the KHL and Torpedo potted two short-handed goals to win an entertaining game at Avangard. The home team led twice but was sunk by two goals in the last 10 minutes.
In the first period, Torpedo took two penalties — and both led to goals. First, Oliwer Kaski converted the power play to give Avangard a sixth-minute lead but later Jordan Szwarz got a breakaway goal on the PK to tie the game.
That goal came against the run of play, with Avangard creating far more opportunities. The home team had the puck in the net early in the second period, with Corban Knight sending the puck past a stricken Pyotr Kochetkov in the visitor’s net. However, the officials ruled this one out due to Klim Kostin’s collision with the goalie. Avangard head coach Bob Hartley appealed the call, but to no avail. However, it wasn’t long before the home team restored its lead. Kochetkov couldn’t hold on to an Ilya Kovalchuk shot and Reid Boucher was on hand to make it 2-1. Barely a minute later, though, Chris Terry had Torpedo back on level terms.
The teams exchanged two more quick goals early in the third. Andy Miele scored on the power play to give Torpedo the lead for the first time in the game; Zhafyarov’s assist brought up his 200th point in the KHL. However, Alexei Bereglazov’s first goal of the season brought Avangard level 90 seconds later.
In the first period, Torpedo got a short-handed goal thanks to the combination of Szwarz and Anton Shenfeld. Midway through the third, the same pair repeated the trick, with Shenfeld scoring off a Szwarz pass. Late in the game the visitor sealed the win when Zhafyarov scored into an empty net.
Jokerit clawed back a two-goal deficit at Neftekhimik but suffered an overtime loss as the home team lifted itself off the foot of the table with its fourth win in six games.
The Eastern Conference struggler made a good start to this game, jumping to an early 2-0 lead. A power play in the first minute enabled Jonas Enlund to score on his compatriots, before Brandon McMillan doubled the home advantage. The Finns responded after 12 minutes when David Sklenicka’s diagonal feed found Brian O’Neill at the back door and from then on the balance of the game tipped in the visitor’s favor.
The only goal of the second period put Jokerit back on level terms. Viktor Loov’s shot was saved, but Veli-Matti Savinainen was alert to the rebound and stuffed the puck home from close range. Later in the session, the visitor was close to going in front when Alex Grant advanced down the right-hand channel and rang the iron.
The third period was much closer. Neither team could find a winning goal, nor could either team generate a clear advantage in terms of shots or time on the attack. In overtime, though, a penalty on Sklenicka put the pressure on Jokerit and even though the Finns managed to withstand the full two minutes, Neftekhimik managed to pot a winner when the teams were back at full strength. Rafael Bikmullin got the decisive goal to lift his team one place and one point ahead of Kunlun Red Star.
Torpedo wasn’t the only team to profit from shorthanded goals today. Avtomobilist also scored while killing a penalty, and Vyacheslav Litovchenko’s effort proved to be decisive. He broke down the right wing, cut inside, evaded Sergei Shirokov and wired a wrist shot into the corner to open the scoring in the 13th minute.
The visitor continued to have the better of the game, outshooting Spartak 16-7 in the first period. The home team’s best hope seemed to be on the power play — it got two more chances early in the second period — but Avto’s PK was well-drilled. Only the second of those opportunities generated any serious threat to Jakub Kovar’s goal, with a good chance for Shirokov followed moments later by a scramble on the crease after a Yakov Rylov point shot.
It wasn’t until the third period that Spartak was able to start dictating more of the game. Even then, though, the Motormen responded with disciplined defense backed up by reliable goaltending from Kovar. He finished the day with 27 saves to record his seventh shut-out of the season. That’s a league-leading stat from the Czech goalie, and the Avto defensive unit is doing its job right now, posting back-to-back shut-outs here and at home to Jokerit last time.