Andy Potts,
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After SKA’s record-breaking run came to an end, Jokerit took up the baton and posted its 13th successive victory with a comfortable success at Lada. Seven more wins would see the Finns tie SKA’s freshly-minted record. Elsewhere, Admiral won 4-2 at Sibir following the departure of head coach Alexander Andriyevsky, Avangard blanked Kunlun and there were high-scoring victories for Barys and Avtomobilist.

Change of staff brings change of fortune

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Admiral Vladivostok 4 (0-2, 2-2, 0-0)

Admiral’s head coach Alexander Andriyevsky was the latest to leave his post this week, stepping down after more than two seasons behind the bench in Vladivostok. And his departure got a reaction from the team, which duly went out and won 4-2 at Sibir to record its third win in 10 games.

Fredrik Stillman, the Swedish coach who had worked alongside Andriyevsky since 2015, took charge for Thursday’s game and duly earned the victory thanks to two goals from Vladimir Tkachyov. Last season’s rookie of the year moves on to six for the season after getting his team’s first and fourth goals here.

In between those efforts, Dmitry Sayustov gave Admiral a 2-0 lead at the first intermission and Pavel Makarenko got the visitor’s third shortly after Andrei Yermakov scored a debut goal for Sibir. Yermakov’s bright start to life at his latest club was the highlight for the host; despite a further marker from Alexander Bergstrom, Pavel Zubov’s team went down to its third successive defeat.

Pyanov orchestrates Avangard success

Avangard Omsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 0 (0-0, 2-0, 1-0)

For Avangard, the big news this week has not been happy. Nikolai Lemtyugov’s serious injury in Tuesday’s game against Barys has dominated the hockey agenda in Omsk. But Thursday’s return to action at home to Red Star gave the team a chance to put that behind it – and that chance was taken with some relish.

It took a little time for Avangard to take control of the game: for more than half an hour there was little to separate the teams. But Maxim Mineyev, a 20-year-old defenseman, found the perfect moment to pot his first career goal. It was a goal made by Valentin Pyanov; leading a break-out, the forward had a seemingly obvious pass to Ilya Mikheyev but showed great vision to send the puck back to the unmarked Mineyev as he moved across the blue line. The youngster’s shot was true, and Avangard was in front.

Captain Evgeny Medvedev doubled the advantage just before the second intermission and Pyanov got a goal of his own to make it 3-0 midway through the final session. Red Star’s frustrations were compounded by Dominik Furch, who made 41 saves for his shut-out.

Photo: 12.10.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - Slovan (Bratislava)

Bailen strike sinks Vityaz

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Vityaz Podolsk 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Traktor moved up to ninth in the Eastern Conference after coming from behind to edge Vityaz.

The visitor took a first-period lead thanks to Nikita Vyglazov’s power play goal in the 17th minute, but found Traktor much improved in the second period. Home pressure paid off when Alexei Kruchinin put away the rebound from a Maxim Yakutsenya shot in the 38th minute.

The winner came early in the third through Nick Bailen, potting his second game-winning goal of the season.

Clinical Barys blows away Ugra

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2 Barys Astana 5 (0-4, 2-1, 0-0)

Barys blew Ugra away with a powerful first-period performance here, putting the skids under the host’s recent mini-revival with four unanswered goals.

Talgat Zhailauov kicked it off with a goal after 66 seconds and Konstantin Pushkaryov doubled the lead on the power play in the sixth minute. That was enough for home goalie Ilya Proskuryakov, who was replaced with Vladislav Fokin. The newcomer’s evening wasn’t a whole lot better though: by the first intermission he was also beaten twice, with Matthew Frattin on the power play and Vladimir Markelov in the last minute doing further damage.

Subsequently, the game was all about damage limitation for the host. Nikita Mikhailis continued his good form with Barys’ fifth goal before Ugra belatedly got on the scoresheet. Frattin took a major penalty for slashing, and the home team scored twice through Ilya Shipov and Maxim Pestushko to close the gap. Ugra had much the better of the third period, but could not find a way back into contention: visiting goalie Henrik Karlssonmade 46 saves, Barys plundered five goals from 19 shots on target.

Winning debut for Kulyash

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 6 Slovan Bratislava 3 (2-1, 0-0, 4-2)

Avtomobilist handed a debut to experienced defenseman Denis Kulyash, and he produced two assists as his team won 6-3 against struggling Slovan.

It took less than two minutes for Kulyash to make his presence felt: a slap shot was parried by Marek Mazanec in the Slovan goal, and Dmitry Pestunov converted the rebound. Slovan responded through Radek Smolenak, but Kulyash chipped in with another helper as Nikolai Timashov made it 2-1 late in the opening session.

The middle period was goalless, but Avto took a firm grip on the outcome with two power play goals at the start of the third. Yegor Milovzorov made it 3-1, then Artyom Gareyev converted a 5-on-3 advantage. Slovan refused to give up, but never got closer than two goals to the opposition. Gareyev finished with two goals after an empty-netter to wrap up the win.

Lucky 13 for Jokerit

Lada Togliatti 0 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (0-2, 0-1, 0-1)

Jokerit improved its club record winning streak to 13 games with a powerful display at struggling Lada.

Brian O’Neill led the way with a goal and an assist, while Ryan Zapolski continued his fine form with 22 saves as the Finns delivered another impressive result.

O’Neill began his evening with the helper as Matt Gilroy opened the scoring in the seventh minute. Olli Palola soon added a second as Lada’s problems mounted, and O’Neill grabbed a short-handed goal early in the middle stanza to put the game out of reach. Rafael Akhmetov was stripped of the puck on his own blue line and O’Neill burst through to beat Alexander Lazushin; the goalie was called to the bench after that one.

Henri Ikonen added a fourth in the final stanza to wrap up a good evening’s work for Jokerit.

Photo: 12.10.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Lada (Togliatti) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

Andy Potts,
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