Former Pittsburgh Penguins wing Alexey Morozov gave Ak Bars Kazan a 3-2 penalty shots win at Amur Khabarovsk on Thursday to stay in Eastern Conference elite.
Ak Bars' 12th win of the season anchors the two-time KHL champion in third place in the standings, two points behind leader Traktor Chelyabinsk.
Amur coach Hannu Jortikka blamed the financial gulf between his struggling team, 11th in the East after 14 defeats, and big-spending Ak Bars for the defeat.
"Our opponents' roster contains a lot of players from the Russian and Finnish national teams and the Kazan team's budget is maybe 10 or 20 times our own," he said on the Amur website.
Finnish center Jarkko Immonen put Ak Bars ahead with a rebound goal in the third minute but Amur retaliated with two powerplay goals of its own.
Defenders Igor Ozhiganov put the hosts 2-1 up after Alexander Osipov had leveled it with his ninth of the season.
Kirill Petrov equalized for Ak Bars with 10 seconds to go in the first period, converting a perfect pass from Artyom Lukoyanov in the last scoring action of the game.
Morozov was the only player of six to convert his penalty shot, sealing the win. Ak Bars goaltender Konstantin Barulin deflected three penalty shots to add to his 32 saves in the game.
"Penalty shots aren't our strong suit," Jortikka said. "Goaltender [Alexei] Murygin played the whole game at a good level."
Later Thursday, Salavat Yulaev Ufa plays Sibir Novosibirsk, before Donbass Donetsk plays Traktor and Slovan Bratislava hosts Metallurg Novokuznetsk.