A second successive home win for Amur Khabarovsk - this time beating Metallurg Magnitogork 4-0 - means only a freak series of results can prevent the Far East side from taking part in its first ever KHL play-off. Clinincal finishing made the difference, with Magnitka unable to beat home goaltender Alexei Murygin in 22 attempts, while the hosts were boosted by two assists from Jakub Petruzalek to extend the advantage after Alexei Kopeikin opened the scoring early on.
Spartak battles on
Spartak’s fans came to Sokolniki knowing that even a surprise win over SKA was unlikely to re-ignite the Red-and-Whites’ play-off hopes - but a strong performance left many leaving with reason to believe that it may not be the last home game of the season. A lively first half came close to boiling over when Evgeny Artyukhin picked up a 5+20 for a dangerous challenge on Denis Bodrov just before the siren - and that long penalty ensured a breathless start to the second session.
First SKA grabbed a shorthanded goal after just 16 seconds, Petr Prucha silencing the home crowd. But they were soon back in full cry as Anatoly Nikontsev tied the game on 22:39, sweeping home the loose puck after Ivan Baranka’s shot squirmed away from Jakub Stepanek. SKA was still a man down when Roman Lyuduchin put Spartak in front with a fine individual goal, and Stepanek’s pads contributed to Spartak’s third as he could only push an Andre Benoit effort on to the stick of Mikhail Yunkov, who finished well from a tight angle.
In the third period Gleb Klimenko pulled one back for SKA, but when Nikontsev broke down the right channel and fired over Stepanek’s shoulder to make it 4-2 there was no way back for the Petersburg team.
CSKA fluffs its lines
With a place in the play-offs there for the taking, CSKA stumbled against lowly opposition to lose 2-0 at home to Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. And the Moscow Army Men’s day got worse with the news from across town where rival Spartak kept its slender hopes alive with a win over SKA St. Petersburg. In truth CSKA never really got to grips with Avtomobilist, heavily outshot once Alexander Streltsov fired Avto ahead early in the second period. Igor Velichkin got the second goal, Evgeny Lobanov celebrated a shut-out - and CSKA looks to finish the job on Wednesday at local rival Dynamo.
Dynamo’s run ends
Dynamo Moscow’s seven-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt against Salavat Yulaev in Ufa. The defending champion has been on a strong run of its own, which now stretches to 13 wins in the last 16, and picked up a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Vitaly Atyushov and Igor Mirnov. Erik Ersberg made 32 saves to keep Dynamo at bay.
Traktor goes clear
Traktor Chelyabinsk opened up a three-point gap at the top of the KHL table, but had to battle back to beat Dinamo Minsk 5-3 in Belarus. Maxim Yakutsenya was the architect of the first fightback, posting 1+1 to tied the game at 2-2, then Deron Quint cancelled out Charles Linglet’s goal to make it 3-3 on 33:37. Anton Glinkin and Anton Burdasov then put Traktor in charge.
Yugra closing in
Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk recovered from Friday’s heavy defeat in Khabarovsk to inch past Sibir Novosibirsk by a single goal and all-but secure a spot in the play-offs. Anton Krysanov got the decisive strike on 22:31, but it was Mikhail Biryukov who was once again the key man for Yugra, making 40 saves to earn the shut-out.
Metallurg halted by in-form Avangard
Avangard Omsk made it four wins on the spin in Novokuznetsk - and left the home side on the brink of play-off elimination. Kuznya’s unlikely push relied on victory in its remaining games, but not even taking an early lead through Alexei Kosourov could save the hosts from a rampant Avangard reply. Sergei Kalinin tied the game within three minutes, and after that it was largely one-way traffic. Yegor Averin got the game-winner early in the second period, and Avangard eased to a 4-1 victory after that.
Around the league
Atlant Moscow Region moved level with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the race for second place in the Western conference. Atlant won 4-2 at Dinamo Riga, with Dmitry Upper getting the game-winning goal early in the second period.
Torpedo, meanwhile, blazed into an early lead at Ak Bars when Robert Nilsson and Ruslan Zainullin struck within 21 seconds of each other - but ultimately lost out 4-3 in overtime. Alexei Tereshchenko got the winner.
Lev Poprad played its last home game of the campaign, but could not find a happy ending in Slovakia. The Lions went down 3-2 against Barys Astana, with Brandon Bochenski getting the winner on 58:36, his second of the game.