Andy Potts,
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Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s talisman celebrated the news that he would captain the Kharlamov Division team in Sunday’s All-Star Game by setting yet another scoring record. Sergei Mozyakin’s opening goal in Magnitka’s win over Avangard was his 37th of the season, the best ever tally in KHL regular-season action. In the West, Jokerit won 5-3 at SKA and Lokomotiv moved into third place with a victory at Torpedo. Elsewhere, Admiral and Kunlun picked up valuable wins as Neftekhimik and Avtomobilist lost ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Admiral wins Far East derby

Amur Khabarovsk 0 Admiral Vladivostok 2

Two goals from Robert Sabolic and 27 saves from Igor Bobkov gave Admiral the edge in the latest meeting of these oriental rivals.

The first period resembled a training exercise for home goalie Juha Metsola against the visiting offense as Admiral topped the shot count 16-4. But only one of those attempts found its target, when Sabolic took advantage of a delayed penalty call to open the scoring in the 18th minute.

Amur improved in the second period, sometimes appearing as dominant as Admiral had been in the opening stanza, but Bobkov was in fine form to preserve his team’s lead. The final stanza followed a similar pattern, with Bobkov frustrating the home team to the last before Sabolic settled the outcome with an empty-net goal.

Mozyakin sets another record

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 Avangard Omsk 2

Magnitka gained swift revenge for yesterday’s 3-5 defeat at home to Avangard … and star forward Sergei Mozyakin scored his 37th goal of the season to set a new KHL record for scoring in the regular season.

Mozyakin opened the scoring in the 15th minute to beat the previous best, set by Steve Moses for Jokerit in 2014-15, then got an assist on Danis Zaripov’s first goal of the night to re-establish Metallurg’s lead after Ilya Mikheyev tied it up early in the second period.

But the game was only settled in the closing moments, with three goals in the last three minutes. Zaripov made it 3-1 on the power play, but Avangard saw its chance to hit back when Denis Platonov was sin-binned. The visitor’s gamble on a 6-on-4 power play backfired when Oskar Osala found the empty net to make it 4-1, but there was still time for Nikolai Lemtyugov to get a consolation goal with nine seconds left to play.

Yuen leads Kunlun to vital victory

Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 Kunlun Red Star 3

Zach Yuen, the local hero on Kunlun’s roster, produced another game-winning display with a goal and an assist as the Beijing team downed Traktor.

Yuen, the most successful of the Chinese-qualified players on Red Star’s roster, added to Tobias Viklund’s first-period opener with a neat finish midway through the game. He collected the puck on the point, outwitted Alexander Sharov and thumped his shot past Traktor goalie Pavel Francouz.

Francouz’ evening ended early in the third, after he was beaten by a breakaway goal from Frenchman Damien Fleury. Yuen started that move, making the key interception and switching the direction of play with an astute pass for Tomi Sallinen.

Traktor did not give up despite trailing 0-3. Maxim Pestushko got a goal back in the 52nd minute and the home team had a two-man advantage for almost two minutes after a couple of quick-fire Kunlun penalties. But the visitor held out, defending stoutly to take all three points.

Razin defeats former team

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2

Ugra head coach Andrei Razin dealt a severe blow to Avtomobilist’s playoff hopes – and proved a point on his return to Yekaterinburg.

Razin began the season behind the bench at Avto, but was dismissed earlier in the season and has faced some criticism from his replacement, Vladimir Krikunov. But his new team came out on top here thanks to goals from Evgeny Lapenkov and Vitaly Shulakov, along with 22 saves from goalie Alexander Sharychenkov.

Avtomobilist’s defeat leaves it six points adrift of eighth-placed Admiral, although Krikunov’s team has a game in hand on its rivals for a playoff spot. Ugra climbs to 13th in the Conference, but has only a theoretical chance of securing a top eight finish.

Six straight wins keep Slovan hoping

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Slovan Bratislava 3

Slovan’s dream of a playoff spot is still alive after Milos Riha’s team made it six wins on the spin, but Neftekhimik lost ground on its rivals in the Eastern Conference.

The home team opened strongly and took the lead after just 12 seconds through Richard Gynge. That lightning start was not sustainable, though, and Michal Hlinka tied it up in the 10th minute.

Two goals in two minutes late in the second period proved to be decisive. First Nick Plastino put Slovan in front, then Pavol Skalicky made it 3-1 and left Neftekhimik with too much to do.

The home team gave it a good go, and reduced the arrears on 50 minutes through Igor Polygalov’s power play. But a late penalty for Neftekhimik’s Kamil Fazylzyanov halted its recovery and lifted Slovan into a group of four teams separated by three points either side of the cut-off line.  

Lokomotiv goes third

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3

It was a Volga battle with third place in the Western Conference at stake – and two goals in the last 10 minutes saw Lokomotiv move ahead of its river rival as the season approaches its climax.

Both teams arrived in good form: Loko had won its last four, while Torpedo’s only loss in 2017 came in overtime at Magnitogorsk last time out. But it was Andrei Loktionov who got on the scoresheet for the second game running to settle this encounter.

He opened the scoring in the ninth minute of a high-octane clash while Alexei Murygin proved too strong for Torpedo’s forwards in the early exchanges. But the home team tied it up early in the second when Stanislav Yegorshev was given time and space to find the net.

Both teams had chances to get ahead before the decisive breakthrough came in the 53rd minute when Pavel Kraskovsky made it 2-1 to Lokomotiv. Loktionov got his second of the night – and his 10th of the season – when he hit the empty net to seal the deal.

Pare unlocks Severstal

Severstal Cherepovets 0 Medvescak Zagreb 3

Francis Pare had a hat-trick of assists as Medvescak won this clash of the outsiders in Cherepovets.

The experienced ex-Magnitka man set up Tomislav Zanoski for the opening goal in the 14th minute, but it was some time before the visitor managed to subdue Severstal. Finally, in the 45th minute, Alexandre Giroux added a second, again with Pare providing the helper.

Any doubt about the outcome was removed in the 54th minute when Mike Glumac added a third. Michael Garnett made 32 saves for his shut-out.

Riga prevails in Dinamo derby

Dinamo Minsk 1 Dinamo Riga 3

The Latvians turned the league table upside down to defeat their namesake from Belarus, scoring two late goals to take the points.

Without even a theoretical chance of reaching the playoffs, the visitor could play without any pressure and responded with a first-period goal from Guntis Galvins. Neither side really created many clear chances after that, and it wasn’t until the 46th minute that the puck was in the net again as Andrei Stepanov tied it up for Minsk.

But Riga would not be denied. Two power plays late in the third brought two goals. First Miks Indrasis made it 2-1 then Filipp Toluzakov – Dinamo’s shoot-out hero in Beijing last time out – wrapped up the points.

Vital win for Jokerit

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Jokerit Helsinki 5

The race for the Western Conference playoffs is going right to the wire, and Jokerit’s unexpected win at SKA was a big boost for Jukka Jalonen’s men.

The Jokerit head coach got his second win in two weeks against his former club in an entertaining Baltic battle, with two goals from Tommi Huhtala leading the way.

At first, though, SKA looked to be cruising to victory. Two goals from Ilya Kovalchuk put the leaders in a commanding position in the first period, and kept Kovy in close pursuit of Mozyakin in the scoring charts. But it all turned around after the intermission as Jokerit scored three goals in eight minutes to stun the home crowd.

Jesse Joensuu and Oliver Lauridsen tied it up by the 23rd minute, then Huhtala’s first put the visitor in front in the 29th. Evgeny Dadonov hauled SKA level, but the momentum of the game had shifted decisively.

The final stanza began with Huhtala making it 4-3 – and he came close to grabbing a hat-trick moments later. Instead, Pekka Jormakka added a fifth in the 51st minute and SKA was unable to find a way back into the game.

Jokerit moves on to 78 points and remains in eighth, one point ahead of HC Sochi.

Sochi knocks on playoff door, Spartak keeps losing

HC Sochi 4 Spartak Moscow 1

Sochi remains one point outside the playoff places despite a convincing victory over a Spartak team that has now lost eight in a row.

The visitor managed to get a 12th-minute lead thanks to Konstantin Glazachev, but little else went right for the Red-and-Whites.

Alexei Pepelyayev tied the scores before the first intermission, and the rest of the game went Sochi’s way. Second-period goals from Igor Ignatushkin and Andrei Kostitsyn set the home team on the path to success – Kostitsyn’s was a gem of stick handling to weave his way through the defense. Finally, Igor Levitsky finished off a superb piece of play from the third line to make it 4-1 early in the third.

Sochi stays in ninth, a point adrift of Jokerit and Vityaz with nine games to play.

Andy Potts,
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