Andy Potts,
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Wednesday’s program was dominated by two big rivalries: in Moscow, Dynamo edged CSKA by a solitary goal, while in Kazan Ak Bars and Salavat Yulaev shared 11 markers before the host won it in overtime. Elsewhere Avangard secured its playoff place with victory at Magnitka, Vityaz won convincingly at home to Lada and Metallurg Novokuznetsk suffered its 12 defeat in a row against Barys.

Metallurg’s losing streak continues

Metallurg Novokuznetsk 2 Barys Astana 4

Barys took another step towards securing its playoff place as Metallurg went down to its 12th defeat in succession.

The home team showed signs of ending that miserable run when Kirill Lebedev gave it a 1-0 lead in the second minute. The lead might have been greater, but visiting goalie Kevin Poulin did well to keep Kuznya’s forwards at bay. It took until late in the second period for Barys to tie the game, with Corey Trivino’s beautiful backhander finding the net in the 37th minute.

In the third period, though, the visitor ran away with it. Roman Starchenko scored twice on the power play, with Brandon Bochenski hitting the target in between to build a 4-1 lead for the Kazakhs. Konstantin Parkhomenko got a late consolation goal for the host; the 20-year-old opened his career KHL account in his sixth appearance in the competition.

Barys remains in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but now moves 10 points clear of ninth-placed Neftekhimik. Both teams have nine games left in the regular season.

Avangard triumphs despite injuries

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Avangard Omsk 5

Avangard cemented its place in this season’s playoff with an impressive victory at defending champion Metallurg, despite seeing two players suffer injuries.

Vladimir Sobotka and David Booth both picked up knocks during the first period, with Sobotka hobbling off after taking a blow to the knee. After the game, Avangard head coach Fyodor Kanareikin said he was waiting for more details of the extent of their problems.

The decisive passage of play came much later, though, when Avangard scored two goals in the 42nd minute to snap a 2-2 tie. First, Ilya Mikheyev was given too much time to retrieve the rebound from an Anton Burdasov shot, then Burdasov himself took advantage of some sluggish Magnitka defense to grab a breakaway goal. Danis Zaripov reduced the deficit, but Nikolai Lemtyugov made the game safe in the last minute with an empty-netter.

Earlier, the teams traded goals in the first two periods but Avangard always had the edge. Maxim Pestushko gave the visitor a ninth-minute lead, only for Evgeny Timkin to level five minutes later. Then, in the middle stanza, Artur Lauta’s strike was cancelled out by Yaroslav Kosov’s slap shot.

Thriller in Kazan

Ak Bars Kazan 6 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5 (OT)

A wild game between two bitter rivals ended with Ak Bars snatching a dramatic victory in the ‘Green Derby’.

The home team trailed deep in the third period, but hit back to tie the game in the 59th minute and win it in overtime.

Michal Jordan was the savior; the Czech D-man picked the perfect moment to come up with only his second goal since moving to Kazan. There were just 89 seconds left when he skated along the blue line to find a shooting lane and saw his effort take a small deflection into the Salavat Yulaev net.

Then, in the 61st minute, Artyom Lukoyanov got the game-winner – with a bit of help from Lady Luck. Lukoyanov burst into the Salavat zone and ripped off a shot that looped up over the shoulder of goalie Niklas Svedberg and dropped into the net.

Kirill Kaprizov was the architect of Salavat’s early achievements, assisting on his team’s first four goals. He started early, getting a helper on Alexander Loginov’s power play goal in the second minute.

Then, after Ak Bars turned the game around to lead 2-1 at the end of the first period, the youngster was back on productive form. Kaprizov had a hand in all three goals as Salavat hit a rich vein of scoring form early in the second. Linus Omark tied it up in the 21st minute, and barely a minute later Alexander Nesterov made it 3-2. Tomas Mertl added a fourth, five minutes later, and the visitor seemed well set to take control of the game.

Ak Bars had other ideas, though, with Justin Azevedo and Vladimir Tkachyov scoring twice in 69 seconds to tie the game at 4-4 before the 30-minute mark.

The action was relentless. The home team’s Alexander Svitov’s evening ended early when he got a 5+game penalty for a high hit on Mertl; Loginov scored his second of the night on that power play with Kaprizov not involved for the first time in the game. Either side of those incidents, two Salavat Yulaev players picked up 10-minute misconduct tariffs, putting D-man Maxim Goncharov and Denis Kulyash in the sin bin.

In the third period, though, the scoring – and the penalty count – calmed down, until that dramatic finale.

Three points for Afinogenov as Vityaz beats Lada

Vityaz Podolsk 4 Lada Togliatti 1

Vityaz enhanced its chances of a first ever KHL playoff campaign after a late surge was enough to defeat Lada.

The host, placed seventh in the Western Conference, did not have it easy against its guest: the game was deadlocked for more than half-an-hour and the opening goal eventually went to Lada’s Georgy Belousov in the 32nd minute.

But Vityaz knows that it has never had a better opportunity of booking a post-season spot and the experience of Maxim Afinogenov enabled the team to get back into the game. Afinogenov scored the equalizer himself in the 39th minute, then proved to be the architect of the evening’s decisive phase. He began with an assist on Alexei Semenov’s power play goal in the 51st minute, then set Alexei Makeyev away on a one-on-one to make it 4-1 in the 54th. In between, Mario Kempe got his 13th of the season.

The win keeps Vityaz in seventh place, but the Moscow Region team is now four points ahead of HC Sochi, the closest team outside the playoff places. The Black Sea boys are in action tomorrow, looking to reduce that gap.

Derby joy for Dynamo

Dynamo Moscow 1 CSKA Moscow 0

The Blue-and-White half of Moscow was singing the praises of goalie Alexander Yeryomenko after the experienced stopper produced his 81st career shut-out to win this derby game.

Yeryomenko pulled off 44 saves to frustrate a CSKA team that missed the chance to close on the top of the KHL standings despite dominating long periods of this game.

The Army Men began with a statement of intent from Valery Nichushkin, who launched a marauding raid on Yeryomenko’s net in the first minute. However, the visitor got a sense that it wasn’t to be its night as early as the 13th minute, when 63 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey failed to produce a goal. In addition, forward Andrei Svetlakov was forced to miss the rest of the game after getting Ilya Nikulin’s stick in his face; the Dynamo D-man sat out a 2+10 penalty.

The winner came in 27th minute as Alexei Tereshchenko took advantage of a power play to beat Ilya Sorokin. Dynamo moved the puck carefully around the CSKA end until Juuso Hietanen slipped a delightful pass onto Tereshchenko’s stick right in front of the net.

With an advantage to hold, Dynamo focused on rock-solid defense for the rest of the game. Although CSKA had more than twice as many shots as the host, Yeryomenko was rarely forced to deal with anything enormously challenging as the Blue-and-Whites’ concentration held until the final hooter.

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Lada (Togliatti) Lada (Togliatti)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Metallurg (Novokuznetsk) Metallurg (Novokuznetsk)
OHC Dynamo (Moscow) OHC Dynamo (Moscow)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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