January 28 round-up
A hat-trick from Pekka Jormakka helped Jokerit to a 6-5 victory over Ugra and lifted the Finns back into the playoff places in the West. In the East, meanwhile, Kunlun Red Star marked the dawn of the Chinese Year of the Rooster with an emphatic 5-0 win over Medvescak. Slovan suffered a setback with defeat at Admiral, and there were home wins in Minsk and Riga.
Two goals in a minute proved sufficient for Admiral to claim the victory, and put a dent in Slovan’s playoff push.
It all happened in the 16th minute, shortly after Slovan had killed a 5-on-3 penalty. First Andrei Sigaryov advanced down the right channel and scored with a wrist shot, then Robert Sabolic reacted sharply to tuck away a rebound.
The visitor got one back through Andrej Stastny early in the second period, but could not salvage anything from the game and missed the chance to move into the playoff places in the Western Conference. Admiral remains in eighth in the East, five points clear of Sibir.
As the year of the Rooster dawned in Beijing, Kunlun ensured that its fans had plenty to crow about.
A 5-0 victory – fittingly, five is a lucky number for Roosters in Chinese astrology – maintained the KHL newcomer’s grip on a playoff place, raising further hopes that this year could be an auspicious one for the team.
Linus Videll was the architect of the win. He opened the scoring after 40 seconds, made the third goal for Alexei Ponikarovsky late in the first period and then set up Sean Collins for the fifth with two seconds left to play.
In between, Max Warn scored his first goal since returning from injury last week and Tomi Sallinen got the fourth as Kunlun kept up the holiday mood in the Chinese capital.
Tomi Karhunen made 24 saves to record his second shut-out in a row; Kunlun’s last regular season home game offered strong evidence that hockey will return to China next month in the playoffs.
With Jokerit’s playoff prospects hanging in the balance, victory over struggling Ugra was a must. But although a Pekka Jormakka hat-trick saw the Finns prevail in a wild game, home fans were kept on edge to the very end of a meeting that could have gone either way.
Ugra led twice in the early stages, with goals from Nikita Dvurechensky and Andrei Ankudinov coming either side of a Peter Regin strike for the host. But three goals in five second-period minutes seemed to have got Jokerit in control. Jormakka scored two of them, and in between Masi Marjamaki deflected home a Ville Lajunen shot.
The visitor was not going to give up, though. Pavel Varfolomeyev made it 3-4, and even after Lajunen reinstated Jokerit’s two-goal advantage, there was time for Alexander Akmaldinov and Evgeny Lapenkov to tie the game, the latter converting a 5-on-3 power play.
With less than four minutes to play, there was a real danger that a resurgent Ugra might take the points from Helsinki and leave the home team outside of the playoff places. Instead, though, Jormakka grabbed a power play goal of his own to complete a game-winning treble and lift Jokerit up to eighth.
Two teams whose playoff places are almost assured played out a low-key game in Minsk.
Alexander Pavlovich gave Dinamo a first-period lead and Nikita Mitskevich scored his first ever KHL goal to double that lead.
The 22-year-old defenseman finished on the winning side despite a Brandon Bochenski goal for the visitor, which saw its four-game streak come to an end.
A dramatic late goal from Petr Koukal salvaged a point for Avtomobilist in Riga, but the visitor went down to an overtime goal from Miks Indrasis.
Czech forward Koukal struck with six seconds left to play to force a 3-3 tie as Avto recovered from 1-3 down in the third period, but Indrasis added to his pair of assists in regulation when he grabbed the game-winner on 63:53.
Earlier, first-period goals from Maris Bicevskis and Edgars Kulda put the Latvians on top before Michal Cajkovsky pulled one back after Dinamo ran into penalty trouble in the second period.
Filipp Toluzakov made it 3-1 early in the third but Rok Ticar replied in the 52nd minute before Koukal’s late leveller. Avtomobilist is now seven points adrift of a playoff place with six games to play.