Washington Capitals alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom scored his first KHL goal for Dynamo Moscow in 3-1 win over Dinamo Riga to cling on to the top spot in the West.
The Swedish forward signed a lockout contract with the reigning champion earlier this month to rejoin Alex Ovechkin, who missed Monday's clash against the Latvian team with bronchitis.
“Ovechkin is a great sniper, of course, we miss him, but as you see we may win games without him,” Backstrom said. “We’ll see how our game will change when he gets back.”
Backstrom scored the opener in the dying seconds of the first period, diverting Filip Novak's slapshot into the net.
Latvian left wing Gints Meija equalized on 46 minutes before Czech forward Marek Kvapil and Denis Kokarev snatched the win for the home team.
Dinamo Riga stays at the bottom of the conference with seven wins in 22 games.
Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his ninth goal since joining from the New Jersey Devils in September as his KHL team SKA St. Petersburg thrashed Spartak Moscow 4-1.
Swedish center Tony Martensson hit two goals on assists by ex-Edmonton Oilers forward Patrick Thoresen in the first period.
Kovalchuk and Spartak’s Nikolay Bushuev exchanged goals in the second before Alexander Kucheryavenko put a gloss on final score five minutes from the buzzer.
SKA is still third in the West two points behind Dynamo, while Spartak remains in 13th.
Elsewhere, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl grabbed a 2-1 road win on penalty shots against Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk to keep hold of second place in the West.
Czech wing Tomas Netik, assisted by NHL draft No. 1 Nail Yakupov, put the hosts in the lead on two minutes, but ex-Anaheim Ducks forward Niklas Hagman equalized and then netted the winning penalty shot.
Lokomotiv’s lockout goaltender Semyon Varlamov deflected Neftekhimik's penalty shots, taking him to 54 saves for the game.
In Kazan, two-time KHL champion Ak Bars gained a 3-1 home win over Atlant Moscow Region thanks to two goals from Danis Zaripov.
Ak Bars stands fourth in the Eastern Conference, while eighth consecutive defeats sink Atlant to 12th in the West.
A goal from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara wasn't enough to save his KHL team Lev Prague from a 3-2 overtime defeat to Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Chara now has two goals and three assists in eight games for the Czechs.
KHL newcomer Slovan Bratislava beat Amur Khabarovsk 4-2 for its 10th win in 20 games to anchor seventh in the West. Amur stays 11th in the East.
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