Andy Potts,
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The big news from today’s games concerned the thrilling race to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Vital victories for Kunlun and Admiral gave those two teams a bit of comfort, while Sibir’s 1-3 loss at home to Amur puts the Siberians in trouble. Salavat Yulaev, which didn’t play on Saturday, is also in danger after dropping to eighth in the table with just two games left to play.

Power play gives Kunlun victory

Metallurg Novokuznetsk 2 Kunlun Red Star 4

Three goals on the power play led Kunlun to a win that lifts the Chinese team to sixth in the table, four points clear of ninth-placed Sibir.

The visitor snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to an impressive second-period display, recovering from Kirill Semyonov’s opening goal just before the first intermission.

Linus Videll tied the scores in the 26th minute, swooping onto Chad Rau’s pass and winning his duel with Rafael Khakimov. Then Kuznya ran into penalty trouble and conceded two power play goals in as many minutes. Tobias Viklund made it 2-1, crashing a shot against the underside of the bar and being credited with the goal after the video referee had a look at the play. Then Max Warn flashed home a one-timer off a Damien Fleury feed to make it 3-1.

Metallurg tried to hit back and end its home campaign on a high note, but Timur Fatkullin’s goal early in the third period was as good as it got. Another Kunlun power play saw Videll get his second of the game to complete a valuable victory.

Amur stuns Sibir

Sibir Novosibirsk 1 Amur Khabarovsk 3

Sibir’s five-game winning streak ground to a halt – and this loss dealt a serious blow to the team’s playoff hopes.

It all started so well for the host, with Konstantin Okulov opening the scoring in the second minute to add to the two points his contributed in Thursday’s 5-1 win over Admiral. But Ilya Gorokhov soon equalized, and Oleg Li’s third goal in five games made it 2-1 at the first intermission.

Amur, which retained a theoretical chance of making the playoffs before this game, managed to have the better of the middle stanza without extending its lead. But in the final session it was down to Juha Metsola to impress once again, standing firm in the face of Sibir pressure. Metsola finished the game with 42 saves; Amur made the points safe with an empty-net goal from Vitaly Atyushov.

Sibir’s loss leaves it three points adrift of eighth-placed Salavat Yulaev. With three games left in its season, the team has little margin for error if it is to force its way into the playoff places.

Photo: 04.02.17. KHL Championship 2016/17. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Amur (Khabarovsk)

Buoyant Admiral plots a course for the top eight

Avangard Omsk 1 Admiral Vladivostok 3

Admiral climbed to seventh place, overtaking Salavat Yulaev and opening a three-point gap over Sibir thanks to this win in Omsk.

In a game where scuffles almost outnumbered shots, the visitor made a great start thank to Pavel Makarenko’s third-minute goal. The rest of the opening stanza was dominated by skirmishes among the players – Artur Lauta and Daniil Kurashov traded blows in one incident before Samvel Mnatsyan and Vitaly Menshikov picked up major penalties for their fight.

Avangard equalized in the second period through Ilya Mikheyev, but Mikhail Fisenko reinstated Admiral’s lead in the 36th minute, shortly after emerging from the penalty box.

The visitor struggled to create many chances in the final period, mustering just three shots on target, but Avangard also found it difficult to really test Igor Bobkov at the other end. Damir Zhafyarov fired into an empty net in the 59th minute to give Admiral the edge.

Zdunov’s winner keeps Neftekhimik in the playoff hunt

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3 Lada Togliatti 2

Neftekhimik kept its own playoff hopes alive with its fourth win in succession.

Both teams warmed up for this game with impressive victories over Ak Bars, but after those one-sided encounters last week, Saturday’s meeting was a tighter affair.

Initially, Neftekhimik seemed to continue where it left off in Tuesday’s 8-2 win. Pavel Poryadin and Maxim Berezin scored for the second game running to make it 2-0 after 10 minutes.

But Lada hit back in the second period thanks to a goal from Nikita Filatov, only for Pavel Zdunov to add to his first-period assist and make it 3-1 in the 25th minute. Georgy Belousov’s strike early in the third made it a one-goal game again, but Neftekhimik held on to claim the win.

The home team is now five points outside the playoff places with three games to play, but in such a tight race for the top eight Neftekhimik will feel it can still sneak in if it wins its remaining fixtures.

Andy Potts,
exclusive for

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Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
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Metallurg (Novokuznetsk) Metallurg (Novokuznetsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
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