Andy Potts ,
exclusive for

Sergei Mozyakin sets another record, Salavat Yulaev suffers yet another defeat and Vityaz closes in on a historic top-eight finish. Meanwhile, Traktor confirms its playoff place, Slovan’s chances come to an end and Dinamo Minsk must wait a little longer.

Today the KHL unveiled its logo for this season’s playoffs.


Praying for a win?

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 CSKA Moscow 5

A ninth successive loss for Salavat Yulaev piles the pressure on Igor Zakharkin and his team – and the upcoming pause in the KHL schedule might give time for a bit of reflection behind the scenes.

“We’re thinking about taking the team to church during the break,” the head coach said after this latest loss. “How can we avoid missing out on the playoffs? We need to resurrect our injured players, we need goalscorers, we need our first line back. We’ll have three days off, then we’ll start serious preparations for the remaining games.”

But there were words of consolation from visiting head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov, who reckoned goalie Viktor Fasth kept CSKA in the game in the second period. “We were really poor in the second period,” he said. “We scored, then the next 15 shots were all on our net. Vitka helped us and we wrapped it up in the third.”

By the time Fasth found himself seriously extended, though, the game was all but over. CSKA raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Alexander Popov and Vladimir Zharkov in the first six minutes. Dmitry Makarov quickly replied for the host, but Greg Scott made it 3-1 at the first intermission and Valery Nichushkin added a fourth in the 21st minute. Ivan Telegin completed the scoring in the 45th minute.

Salavat Yulaev, which has never previously missed a KHL playoff, is in sixth place with two games left. But even two victories would not guarantee that the team finished ahead of the chasing pack: all of the teams competing for a top eight finish have two games in hand, and no more than three points to make up.

Photo: 03.02.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - CSKA (Moscow)

Mozyakin hat-trick sets yet another record

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 SKA St. Petersburg 4 (SO)

Sergei Mozyakin hit a hat-trick to lead defending champion Metallurg to a comeback victory over table-topping SKA.

And, once again, the KHL’s top hit-man set a new record. This time he overtook Alexei Morozov’s all-time points haul in the Russian championship. Mozyakin has 84 points (47+37) from the current season; Morozov achieved 83 (34+49) in 2006-07, before the KHL came into existence.

Mozyakin’s treble – two of which came after Ilya Kablukov was ejected from the game in the third period – helped Magnitka recover from 1-3 and 2-4 deficits to tie this game at 4-4, but the master goalscorer suffered an uncharacteristic miss in a goal-heavy shoot-out, leaving Danis Zaripov to secure the win for the host.

Earlier Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Lee traded goals in the last minute of the opening session before Evgeny Dadonov scored twice in the middle stanza to put SKA in control. Mozyakin’s hat-trick came in the space of just four minutes in the third period, but there was still time for Jarno Koskiranta’s goal for SKA to punctuate his efforts.

In the shoot-out, both Igor Shestyorkin and Ilya Samsonov struggled as the goals flew in. But with the score at 5-4, Samsonov denied Datsyuk to end an absorbing clash of the KHL’s conference leaders.

Photo: 03.02.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

Traktor clinches playoff spot

Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 Severstal Cherepovets 0

Traktor confirmed its playoff spot thanks to this victory – but had to rely on Pavel Francouz’s shut-out to secure the win.

A first-period goal from Jiri Novotny proved enough to separate these two teams as Francouz made 26 saves to frustrate Severstal.

Traktor might have made it easier for itself if Maxim Yakutsenya had scored with a penalty shot in the 18th minute, but after Sergei Lapin illegally handled his original attempt, Yakutsenya failed to beat Jakub Kovar. And the Czech goalie distinguished himself again to make a spectacular double save – first pad, then glove – to deny Paul Szczechura.

Avto recovers to beat Dinamo

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4 Dinamo Riga 2

Avto’s outside hopes of the playoffs are still alive after coming from behind to beat Dinamo.

Guntis Galvins gave the visitor the lead in the 34th minute, but Maxim Rasseikin and Petr Koukal turned the game around with two quick goals late in the second period.

The final stanza saw Alexei Simakov and Alexei Mikhnov extend that lead to 4-1 before Miks Indrasis got a late consolation goal for the visitor.

Bochenski, Trivino too strong for Minsk

Barys Astana 5 Dinamo Minsk 1

Barys took a big stride towards securing a playoff spot with a convincing victory, while Dinamo still needs another point to confirm its post-season place.

Two goals apiece for Brandon Bochenski and Corey Trivino led the way for the Kazakh team, which dominated the game after a tight first period was tied at 1-1. Kirill Panyukov got the fifth goal for the host, Aaron Palushaj’s 18th-minute effort was Dinamo’s only marker.

Barys climbs to fifth in the Eastern Conference and enjoys a five-point cushion over ninth-placed Sibir.

Jokerit stays on track for the playoffs

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2 Jokerit Helsinki 3

A late goal from Marko Anttila gave Jokerit three precious points from this game and maintained the Finns’ advantage over playoff-chasing Sochi.

Anttila struck in the 57th minute, snaffling the rebound from Topi Jaakola’s shot just two minutes after Roman Lyuduchin tied the game.

Earlier Kirill Belyayev got Ugra off to a great start with a goal after 83 seconds, but Jokerit turned it around in the first period when Mika Niemi and Peter Regin scored twice in 34 seconds.

Sochi keeps playoff hopes alive

Spartak Moscow 1 HC Sochi 3

Sochi kept up the pressure on the playoff places with victory at lowly Spartak.

The Black Sea trails Jokerit by three points but has a game in hand and would make the top eight if it wins its remaining games in regulation.

At Spartak, Ilya Krikunov opened the scoring with a short-handed goal in the eighth minute, stealing the puck in his own zone and exchanging passes with Eric O’Dell before scoring.

The Red-and-Whites tied it up in the second period through Viktor Bobrov, but a power play goal for Andre Petersson put Sochi back in front two minutes later.

The home side struggled to create clear chances in the third period, and O’Dell wrapped it up with an empty net goal.

Photo: 03.02.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Spartak (Moscow) - HC Sochi (Sochi)

Vityaz closes on history, Slovan’s hopes extinguished

Slovan Bratislava 1 Vityaz Moscow Region 6

At the game against Vityaz, the home team took to the ice in special purple uniforms in support of children suffering from cancer.

Ivan Yatsenko was the star man for Vityaz as the Moscow Region club picked up its seventh successive victory.

The 24-year-old got his first points for Vityaz – two goals and an assist – as his disjointed season finally gains some traction.

Yatsenko started the campaign at Spartak, moved to Neftekhimik after one game, and then went on to HC Sochi. He left the Black Sea in December and was playing his eighth game for Vityaz tonight.

It was also his most successful to date, as he opened his tally for the club with an assist on Alexei Kopeikin’s fourth-minute goal. Patrik Lusnak cancelled that out, but Yatsenko scored two of his own in the second period to give Vityaz a 3-1 lead.

The final period saw the visitor make the game safe: Maxim Afinogenov made it 4-1, Alexander Pankov added a fifth and Mario Kempe completed the scoring. Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi picked up his third assist of the game as Slovan’s chances of reaching the playoffs came to an end.

For Vityaz, though, a playoff campaign seems all but assured. The team is in seventh place, four clear of HC Sochi in ninth, and has five games left in the regular season. If it makes it over the line, this will be the first time in the KHL era that the club has made it into post-season.

Andy Potts ,
exclusive for

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