Andy Potts,
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Nichushkin’s late show

Admiral Vladivostok 2 CSKA Moscow 3

Valery Nichushkin scored a dramatic winner just four seconds before the hooter to finally sink a stubborn Admiral team.

It might not rank as one of the youngster’s prettiest goals – the puck pinballed around the slot, bouncing off stick, skate and pad before Nichushkin forced it home from a tight angle – but he will score few that are imbued with such decisive drama in the final seconds of a game.

Nichushkin also got CSKA’s first of the afternoon, cancelling out Robert Sabolic’s first-period opener. This one saw him start and finish a lightning break, streaking past Daniil Kurashov before taking out two more D-men with a delicious feed for Andrei Svetlakov. The youngster’s shot was blocked by Ivan Nalimov, but Nichushkin reacted fastest to squeeze the rebound home just as the net came off its moorings.

The game remained tied until deep into the third period when Kirill Petrov put CSKA in front for the first time. That lead did not last long – James Wright tied the game on 55:01 and seemed to have taken us into overtime before Nichushkin’s late intervention.

Shirokov double downs Amur

Amur Khabarovsk 1 SKA St. Petersburg 2

Sergei Shirokov scored twice and Ilya Kovalchuk celebrated his latest achievement with another assist as SKA came from behind to win at Amur.

Kovy got the helper on Shirokov’s game-winner, taking him to 51 points for the season two days after he set a new club record for the fastest 50-point haul in SKA’s history. The goal came on the power play early in the third. Kovalchuk swung the puck across the ice from one face-off spot to the other, where Yegor Yakovlev fed the unmarked Shirokov for a straightforward finish on the slot.

Earlier, Shirokov’s 35-minute goal cancelled out Tomas Zohorna’s opener barely 90 seconds before. SKA now has 20 wins from its last 21 games, and is unbeaten in five as it powers toward the 100-point mark.

Brule leads Neftekhimik back into playoff spots

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 5 HC Sochi 1

Gilbert Brule scored twice for Neftekhimik as the team returned to the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Brule has been in fine form in recent weeks, and today’s brace took his tally to 8+5=13 points in his last eight games.

His personal hot streak has coincided with an upswing in Neftekhimik’s form, with the team winning seven of those eight encounters despite the absence of head coach Andrei Nazarov, who completed a three-game suspension on Saturday.

For Sochi, though, it’s a different story. A run of three defeats in four – and seven in the last 11 – has pushed the Black Sea team out of the playoff spots in the West, where a hard-fought battle sees five teams separated by just two points.

Today’s game got away from Sochi early on when Dmitry Ogurtsov and Richard Gynge put Neftekhimik 2-0 ahead inside nine minutes. The second period saw Brule trade goals with Oskar Fantenberg before the Canadian got his second during a 5-on-3 power play early in the third. Gennday Stolyarov wrapped up the win.

Around the league

Ak Bars returned to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win over Spartak, despite conceding a goal to Lukas Radil after 49 seconds. Andrei Popov tied it up on the power play in the seventh minute and second-period goals from Fyodor Malykhin and Stepan Zakharchuk put the home team in control. Vyacheslav Leshchenko pulled one back late on for Spartak, but Ak Bars held on for a win that lifts it a point ahead of Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Late goals from Alexander Perezhogin and Pyotr Khokhryakov gave Avangard a 5-3 win over a stubborn Slovan team. The visitor led three times with goals from Mikhail Yunkov, Anton Burdasov and Vladimir Sobotka, but was pegged back by two markers from Jeff Taffe and a third from Kyle Chipchura. Slovan lost for the eighth time in 10 games; Avangard consolidates second place in the East.

Peteris Skudra was back behind the bench for Torpedo after sitting out a two-game ban – and his team responded with a hard-fought win at Lada. In Skudra’s absence, Torpedo played out a wild 5-6 loss at Neftekhimik, but defensive discipline returned as the teams tied 1-1 in Togliatti. Dmitry Semin’s power play goal put the visitor ahead in the second period, Stanislav Bocharov tied it up in the 34th minute. That set the stage for Kaspars Daugavins to settle the issue in a shoot-out.

Tomi Karhunen had the first shut-out of his KHL career to help Kunlun to a 2-0 victory at home to Severstal. Karhunen made 17 saves as the Chinese team avenged its 2-0 loss in Cherepovets back in September. Goals from Oleg Yashin and Martin Bakos secured the win for the host.

Andy Potts,
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Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
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Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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