MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti)
Two points from Alex Ovechkin decided the match as Dynamo Moscow beat Slovan Bratislava 3-2 on the road to go top of the KHL’s Western Conference.
The lockout signing from the Washington Capitals struck twice in the first period in Slovakia on Sunday, first assisting Denis Kokarev as Dynamo Moscow opened the scoring, then making it 2-0 with a strike of his own on 15 minutes.
Former NHL star Miroslav Satan replied with two goals for Slovan, but it was not enough to send the game into overtime as Grigory Shafigulin scored the decisive goal for Dynamo Moscow, which trailed 30-28 on the shot count.
Last season’s champion Dynamo now leads the Western Conference by a point from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, but has played one more game than its closest challenger.
Elsewhere, a closely-fought game between two former KHL champions ended with a 4-3 penalty-shot win for Salavat Yulaev Ufa against Ak Bars Kazan.
Former Nashville Predators wing Antti Pihlstrom was among the scorers for Salavat Yulaev, which failed to find the edge for a regular-time win despite outshooting host Ak Bars 30-24.
Alexander Stepanov scored the winning penalty shot for Salavat Yulaev after a scoreless overtime period, lifting his team to sixth in the Eastern Conference, while Ak Bars stays third.
In other games, Severstal Cherepovets moved to sixth in the West with a 1-0 win in Latvia against 12th-placed Dinamo Riga in which Gennady Stolyarov scored the crucial goal as goaltender Vasily Koshechkin saw off 29 shots for the shutout.
Vityaz Chekhov rose to 10th in the West after beating the last-placed team in the conference, Ukrainian expansion outfit Donbass Donetsk, in a 2-1 victory on the road despite being outshot 39-25.
A 2-1 home win for Spartak Moscow against Dynamo Minsk lifted the hosts to ninth in the West and the fringe of the playoff spots.
Spartak goaltender Mike Murphy saw off all but one of Dynamo Minsk’s 46 shots, while his teammates could muster only 28 shots.
Dynamo Minsk stay 13th in the West.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.