Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s bid to retake the lead in the KHL’s Western Conference fell short after an upset at the hands of lowly Yugra Khanty-Mansiisk on home ice.
Alex Ovechkin had propelled Dynamo Moscow to the top of the conference with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Lev Prague, leaving Lokomotiv the task of beating Yugra, 11th of 12 teams in the East and without a win on the road, to retake top spot.
But Yugra outshot its hosts and stole a 3-2 victory, entering the third period with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Linus Viddell and Dmitry Altaryov, before Stanislav Bocharov scored the winning goal to hold off a late Lokomotiv fightback.
Coach Tom Rowe blamed the defeat on Lokomotiv’s season-long problems in the early stages of games.
“In the course of 14 games we have had problems in the opening stages,” he said.
“I think that’s our main problem. Of course, there’s other issues too that we need to resolve, and we’ll do that.”
The hosts’ lockout signings made little impression, as Artem Anisimov and Semyon Varlamov did not play, although Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov got an assist.
Lokomotiv stays second in the West, while Yugra remains 11th in the East.
Elsewhere, a thriller saw Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod burst back into the Western Conference playoff places with a 5-4 win over Barys Astana that saw five goals in the third period alone.
Anton Volchenkov of the New Jersey Devils made his debut for Torpedo, which has now scored 12 in its last two games.
“It wasn’t easy because it had only been four days since I arrived and it was really important to settle in straight away,” Volchenkov said.
“Talking about the game, the main thing is the win.”
Torpedo is now seventh in the West, with Barys holding the same position in the other conference,
Last season’s finalist Avangard Omsk recovered well from its 7-3 thrashing by Torpedo on Monday to beat Atlant Moscow Region 4-3 in overtime, with Montreal Canadiens lockout signing Andrei Kostitsyn scoring the winning goal.
The win brings Avangard to the cusp of the playoff places, level on points with Barys two places above, but the Siberians are ninth in the East because of fewer wins.
In the West, Vityaz Chekhov rose to 11th with a 3-2 win on penalty shots at Spartak Moscow, which stays 10th.
In earlier results, Ak Bars Kazan beat Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3-2 on penalty shots in a battle between two former Gagarin Cup winners, while Amur Khabarovsk thrashed Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 5-1.