CSKA have increased their KHL playoff chances by collecting in a 3-1 win in the Moscow derby over archrivals Spartak.
The derby between Spartak and CSKA was to become even more important as the teams battled hard for eighth place, which comes with the chance of a play-off in the Western Conference.
Both sides were under extreme pressure. CSKA suffered 10 defeats in 11 matches. Among them was a repeat of the KHL record, a humiliating loss to Amur 8-0.
While Spartak struggled to get back on winning form with a new coach, Andrey Sidorenko, behind the bench with no real signs for success.
The game started cautiously, with both teams putting defense first. The hosts had possession, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock midway through the opening period.
Nikolay Prokhorkin was first on the rebound after Nikita Filatov's shot earned him his first point in the sixth game since his second comeback from the NHL, 1-0.
In the second, CSKA kept collecting penalties and Spartak finally converted an advantage of having an extra man. A grandson of a CSKA legend Boris Mikhailov – Egor – took a feed from Mikhail Yunkov to level matters scoring his fifth of the season, 1-1.
The neck-to-neck game continued in the last frame right up to the 50th minute when Sergey Shirokov capitalized on a powerplay for his 15th goal of the season to give the Army Men the lead, 2-1.
Spartak threw everything at their rivals for an equalizer. The Red-And-Whites pulled the goaltender, but all in vain as the visitors shot an empty-netter to seal a final score of 3-1.
“Of course it’s fun to win those games,” Nikita Filatov, CSKA forward, told RT. “I feel a little bit better with my game. I got the first point. Maybe there’ll be less panic now. And, hopefully, I’ll get going.”
CSKA managed to bounce back after being on the wrong end of an eight-nothing thrashing to beat their cross-city rivals in style.
Ten points separate the teams in the rankings and it seems Spartak will need a small miracle to secure their place in the playoffs.