Andy Potts,
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Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (SO)

Games between these two Eastern Conference rivals are often close-fought affairs, and they frequently have a big impact on the destiny of honors in the East.

Today’s was no exceptions as the teams matched each blow-for-blow until Fyodor Malykhin gave Ak Bars victory in the shoot-out. That makes it six wins on the spin for the Kazan team and stretches its lead at the top of the table to three points, albeit from three games more than Metallurg has played.

Magnitka may well feel somewhat mugged: over the 65 minutes of hockey it had twice as many shots on target, 34-17, and was the only offensive force in overtime. But if Metallurg had the creativity, Ak Bars had the finishing … and that proved decisive.

It all started well enough for the host: Danis Zaripov went around the net and delivered a pass that sat invitingly for Viktor Antipin to rifle it past Stanislav Galimov from the face-off spot. But Ak Bars used its first power play to show that it could do much the same. Malykhin’s pass from behind the net set up a one-timer for Albert Yarullin to tie the scores.

A further Metallurg penalty early in the second period saw Ak Bars take the lead. Denis Kazionov sat in the bin as Vasily Tokranov’s shot dropped perfectly for Alexander Svitov, standing by the post, to turn it into the net.

Magnitka’s equalizer in the 35th minute also came on the PP. Zaripov was the scorer, sweeping a Jan Kovar pass through a flurry of skates at the far post to make it 2-2. That set up the home team to dominate the final stanza, but there was no way past Galimov and Malykhin punished that profligacy in the shoot-out.

Last-minute Rau sinks Dinamo Minsk

Dinamo Minsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 4

Kunlun Red Star clawed back a 0-2 deficit before snatching the game-winner with just 16 seconds left as Dinamo Minsk dropped out of the playoff spots.

Chad Rau was the hero for the Chinese team, tying the game at 3-3 on 55:30 before grabbing that decisive strike. Janne Jalasvaara made the diagonal play to get Ben Scrivens moving across his crease and Rau darted forward at lightning speed to force the puck home at the far post. A disappointed Dinamo crowd responded with jeers and whistles for its team’s performance, and fans began streaming out of Arena Minsk.

Earlier the mood was very different. Dinamo eased into a 2-0 lead with the kind of hockey that suggested a four-game losing streak might be coming to an end. Andrei Stas had a goal and an assist, Andrei Kitarov got the other goal and the first period ended on a high for the home team.

But penalty trouble scuppered the Belarusians. Tobias Viklund got a power play goal in the second period, then Sean Collins converted a 5-on-3 advantage to tie the game in 49th minute.

Rau had an assist on that one, but his greater contribution was yet to come. First he cancelled out Andrei Stepanov’s 3-2 goal for Dinamo, then he delivered the decisive blow as Red Star outshone the opposition for the second road game running.

Hartikainen hits ‘ugly’ hat-trick

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1

Teemu Hartikainen’s hat-trick powered Salavat Yulaev to victory over struggling Neftekhimik.

The Finn scored a goal in each period as his team made it five wins from six and added to the problems facing Andrei Nazarov in his new role behind the bench in Nizhnekamsk.

But Hartikainen, who enjoyed two generous assists from Lady Luck as his second and third goals took big deflections, was sheepish about his success after the game.

“I always try to shoot when I can,” he told his club’s website after the game. “That must have been one of the ugliest hat-tricks in hockey history, but I got lucky!”

Hartikainen’s first came right at the end of the opening period; a poacher’s effort, he was in the right place at the right time to put away the rebound after Kirill Kaprizov’s shot was blocked by Ivan Lisutin.

His second, in the 27th minute, was more comical than clinical, though. There was little on for the Finn as he wriggled away from a challenge in the corner and smacked the puck across the face of Lisutin’s net. But somehow the goalie got tangled up and deflected the attempted pass into his own net.

The teams traded goals in the 40th minute as Gilbert Brule got one back for Neftekhimik only to see Zakhar Arzamastsev go down the other end and restore that two-goal cushion. And Hartikainen completed his treble thanks to another freakish incident. He got a deflection on Linus Omark’s shot, forcing a smart save out of replacement goalie Ville Kolpanen before claiming the plaudits after a luckless Neftekhimik defensemen turned the loose puck into his own net. Salavat stays second in the Chernyshev Division, two points behind Avangard. Neftekhimik lies six points adrift of the Eastern Conference playoff spots.

Khokhryakov double downs Sochi

Avangard Omsk 4 HC Sochi 0

Pyotr Khokhryakov has endured a difficult season thus far, with few opportunities to get on the ice in Omsk. But after returning to the team after the international break he has started showing his value to Fyodor Kanareikin’s men.

An assist in Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Torpedo was followed by his first two goals of the season in this comfortable win over Sochi, keeping Avangard on top of the Chernyshev Division and second in the Eastern Conference.

Khokhryakov wasted little time in opening his account for the season, scoring the first goal after 116 seconds. It was a neat finish from a tight angle, and it set Avangard on the way to victory. Line-mate Denis Burdasov added a second in the middle session, continuing his scoring streak after bagging two against Torpedo, then Khokhryakov made it 3-0 early in the third.

Sochi had little to offer on offense, and Dominik Furch stopped 20 shots to claim a shut-out; Erik Gustafsson added a fourth on a late power play.

Around the league

Peter Regin fired Jokerit to an important 2-1 win at home to Admiral. The Finns needed a victory to climb back into the playoff places in the West, but suffered a bad start when James Wright’s short-handed goal gave the visitor the lead. Tommi Huhtala tied it up soon after with a backhander past Igor Bobkov before the Danish forward grabbed the winner in the 47th minute.

Sibir’s struggles continue as Torpedo won 4-1 in Novosibirsk. The game started slowly, with just four shots on goal in the first period. Then the teams traded goals either side of the midway point as Sergei Shumakov put the host in front only for Kirill Rasskazov to tie it up. Two goals in a minute saw Alexei Potapov and Alexander Frolov put Torpedo in control before Carter Ashton’s empty-netter wrapped it up. Nikolai Zherdev finished with three assists.

Stanislav Bocharov was Traktor’s nemesis as Lada claimed a shoot-out win in Chelyabinsk. Bocharov opened the scoring in the sixth minute but Dmitry Pestunov’s second-period equalizer sent the game into overtime. Then Bocharov returned to get the only goal in the shoot-out as Ilya Ezhov followed up his 45 saves in the game by blanking Traktor’s three attempts.

Barys moved to within one point of the playoff spots after an emphatic 5-1 win over Slovan. Roman Starchenko led the way with 2+1, Ivan Kuchin had 1+2 and Brandon Bochenski and Nigel Dawes both posted 1+1 as the Kazakhs made it four games without defeat.

Nikita Bespalov enjoyed his second successive shut-out as Spartak won 3-0 at Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Bespalov made 33 saves while goals from Alexander Bondarev, Vadim Berdnikov and a 13th of the season for Ryan Stoa saw the Red-and-Whites ease to victory.

The battle of the outsiders ended in a 3-2 victory for Dinamo Riga over Amur in Liepaja. Pyotr Schastlivy opened the scoring for the second game running, scoring after just 16 seconds. Teemu Ramstedt tied it up on the power play midway through the first period but Maris Bichevskis made it 2-1 in the 15th minute. Dinamo’s Lauris Darzins and Amur’s Tomas Zohorna completed the scoring in the third.

Andy Potts,
exclusive for

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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
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Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Lada (Togliatti) Lada (Togliatti)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Metallurg (Novokuznetsk) Metallurg (Novokuznetsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
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