Report says Ilya Kovalchuk could be back in NHL by 2016-17

Jared Clinton
Ilya Kovalchuk

According to Finnish news site Iltalehti.fi, trusted sources have informed the news outlet that Ilya Kovalchuk could be back in the NHL by 2016-17. Kovalchuk has reportedly informed his KHL club, SKA St. Petersburg, of his wish to return to North America following next season.

However, in order to come back to the NHL in two seasons time, Kovalchuk would need to receive the green light from all 30 NHL teams because he voluntarily retired. If he wishes to come back to the league without needing league-wide approval, Kovalchuk would have to wait until 2018-19, when he would be 35. Read more

Anders Nilsson dives across entire net, tosses hat in the ring for save of the year

Jared Clinton
Anders Nilsson (via KHL/YouTube)

During the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, there was this feeling that no matter what you shot at then-Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, he was going to stop it. You can’t help but have that feeling about Anders Nilsson in the KHL.

For the second straight game, Nilsson made a stop that he had absolutely no business making, and this time it came little more than five minutes into the second period of a scoreless tie game. Oh, and if Nilsson’s Ak Bars Kazan won, they were heading to the Eastern Conference semi-final.

No amount of describing the save could do it as much justice as the look on Avangard Omsk winger Roman Berdnikov’s face after Nilsson robs what should have been a goal: Read more

KHL coach loses it, taunts referees with fake bribe following controversial playoff goal

Jared Clinton
Raimo Summanen (via KHL/YouTube)

On a list of iconic coaching moments — from Roger Neilson’s towel-waving to Patrick Roy’s glass-shoving — Raimo Summanen’s faux-bribe of the officials scores pretty darn high.

To put it lightly, Summanen, coach of the KHL’s Avangard Omsk, lost his cool after Ak Bars Kazan was awarded a goal on what he perceived to be clear goaltender interference. When you see the play, you’ll realize it’s not as cut and dry as Summanen believes it to be, but he chose to see things his way and lashed out at the referees.

A bit of a backstory on the goal might be necessary: it came in the fifth game of the second round series between Omsk and Kazan, and Kazan held a 3-1 series lead. So, for Summanen’s club, this was an elimination game and one goal could be the difference between life or death. Summanen’s antics — whether you agree with them or not — are hilarious, but we’re not so sure if they’ll get the referees on his side:

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KHL goalie Anders Nilsson contorts body to make huge save

Jared Clinton
Anders Nilsson (via KHL/YouTube)

No top seed makes it through the playoffs unscathed, and that includes KHL Eastern Conference champion Ak Bars Kazan. However, Kazan goaltender Anders Nilsson might be the only reason they’re not tied after four games of their second round series.

In the fourth game of Kazan’s Eastern Conference semi-final matchup against Avangard Omsk, Nilsson made a stop on Omsk’s Felix Schutz that you wouldn’t even expect to see in a video game. Nilsson was down on his stomach and, without even pushing his body off the ice, reached up with his leg and his blocker to turn aside Schutz’s attempt at the open net: Read more

KHL goaltender ejected after repeatedly punching crease-crasher in the face with blocker

Jared Clinton
Alexander Salak punches a downed opponent. (via KHL/YouTube)

NHL fans may remember goaltender Alexander Salak from the time he spent with the Florida Panthers or Chicago Blackhawks. For KHL fans, Salak can now be remembered for the time he got kicked out of a playoff game for repeatedly punching crease-crashing winger Maxim Yakutsenya in the face.

Salak, who plays for Sibir Novosibirsk, got into the altercation with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk’s Yakutsenya less than halfway through the first period of the third game of the second round series between the two teams. After Yakutsenya fell into Salak’s crease, the netminder began to tee off on Yakutsenya’s face with his blocker. The two continued to tussle for almost half a minute before Sibir defenseman Vitali Menshikov pulled Yakutsenya off of Salak. You can watch the full wrestling match below: Read more

Watch KHLer beat four defenders for jaw-dropping playoff OT winner

Jared Clinton
Artemi Panarin (via KHL/YouTube)

It has been reported that Artemi Panarin has his sights set on the NHL next season. If his overtime goal in the first game of SKA St. Petersburg’s second round series against Dynamo Moscow is any indication of his talent level, don’t be surprised when teams fight for his services.

Less than a minute into overtime, St. Petersburg’s Panarin got the puck deep in the left wing corner. After spinning on his backhand towards the boards, he deftly slipped the puck under the stick of the Moscow defenseman Mat Robinson, turning him inside out. As Robinson gave chase, Panarin moved right into the slot and, with four defenders in the vicinity, fired a wristshot past Dynamo goaltender Alexander Lazushin: Read more

Crazy KHL Game 7 highlighted by huge save, controversial goal

Jared Clinton
Omsk's Chad Kolarik scores while Astana's Alexei Litvinenko lies on the ice injured. (via KHL/YouTube)

What would the playoffs be without the antics of a series deciding seventh game? Thanks to Barys Astana and Avangard Omsk, hockey fans won’t have to wait until the NHL playoffs to have their first taste of Game 7 in 2014-15.

Minutes into the final game of the first round series between Omsk and Astana, Barys winger Dustin Boyd had an incredible chance to get the game started right. After taking a pass in the middle of the ice, Boyd fired a wrist shot that sailed over the net and ricocheted off the glass back in front.

With Avangard goaltender Konstantin Barulin down and searching for the puck, Boyd looked to have the opening goal on his stick. Barulin, however, managed to contort his body and stretch out for a miraculous kick save. Read more

NHL makes history with first-ever Russian referee

Evgeny Romasko (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was only fitting that the first Russian to ever referee an NHL game would do it in Detroit, the city that assembled the Russian Five and is home to one of the all-time greatest Russian players in NHL history in Pavel Datsyuk.

Evgeny Romasko made history Monday night by becoming the first-ever Russian-born official to work an NHL game when the Red Wings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. It took Romasko just four minutes and 52 seconds to call the first penalty of his NHL career, a highsticking minor against Marek Zidlicky of the Red Wings, which impressed his boss, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom. Read more