Andy Potts,
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Sergei Shumakov grabbed all the plaudits with a wonderful lacrosse-style goal in CSKA’s 3-1 win over Kunlun Red Star. That audacious effort even outstripped the blistering assist that saw 19-year-old Lokomotiv prospect Artyom Kayumov collect his first KHL point in a 5-0 win over Barys. Salavat Yulaev defied the form book with a valuable 1-0 win at rival Ak Bars, while Amur surprised Jokerit with an overtime success in Finland despite allowing 50 shots on its net. SKA edged past Avangard to remain way out in front.

Burdasov gives Salavat a vital win

Ak Bars Kazan 0 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 (0-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Salavat Yulaev pulled off a significant win at the home of old rival Ak Bars. The single-goal margin may have been tight, but this was a big success for a team facing a rising tide of criticism amid a lackluster run of form.

The visitor avenged a painful 0-5 loss in Ufa just one week earlier and, while it can hardly now claim to be back on form after a run of eight losses in 10 games, there was plenty of character on display in this game. Goalie Ben Scrivens made 27 saves to collect his third shut-out of the season, while the team dug deep to repel an Ak Bars team that spent almost a third of the game on the attack without finding a way to goal.

A cagey opening session finished goalless, but the visitor took the lead early in the second through Anton Burdasov. Fyodor Belyakov’s pass to Enver Lisin turned defense into attack, then Lisin picked out Burdasov in a central position for a one-timer past Emil Garipov.

Into the final frame, and Ak Bars tightened the screws. However, Salavat Yulaev stood firm, despite intense pressure. As the frustration increased, the host briefly found itself at a two-man disadvantage, a chance that went unpunished but helped to run down the clock in the closing stages.

Photo: 29.11.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)

Loko races to five-star win

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 5 Barys Astana 0 (3-0, 2-0, 0-0)

Lokomotiv piled on the misery for Barys as the Kazakhs followed a 1-9 drubbing with a 0-5 reverse and slumped to a sixth straight defeat.

The damage was done early: Loko steamed into a five-goal lead inside 24 minutes, before Alexander Sudnitsin completed his shut-out to seal the win. Brandon Kozun opened the scoring after 69 seconds, deflecting home Jakub Nakladal’s shot from the point, then Yegor Averin doubled the lead in the third minute. The pick of the goals came in the 14th minute, when Artyom Kayumov’s dazzling dart through the Barys defense saw him pick out the unmarked Yegor Fateyev for his second goal in successive games. For 19-year-old Kayumov, it was his first point in the KHL … and not a bad way to announce his presence in the big league.

The middle frame began with two more Loko goals as Daniil Apalkov struck twice to extend the lead.

50 shots, four goals, no win: Metsola defies Jokerit

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Amur Khabarovsk 5 OT (1-2, 2-2, 1-0, 0-1)

Jokerit delivered a dramatic conclusion to regulation – but Amur left with the win thanks to Alexander Frolov’s overtime goal and a stunning display from goalie Juha Metsola.

Frolov claimed the winner 13 seconds from the end overtime, after Jokerit had failed to convert a power play and Metsola had added six more saves to bring his total to the evening to 46. The home team’s pressure – Jokerit had 50 shots in total – found Amur’s Finnish goalie on top of his game, but even he could not preserve the Tigers’ lead to the end of regulation.

Instead, Antti Pihlstrom got the 4-4 goal on 59:56, finally beating Metsola at the end of a third period that Jokerit dominated from start to finish. But the home team’s problems came earlier in the game when it kept leaking goals despite dinging the piping twice in the first two minutes and going on to dictate much of the play. Amur never trailed in this game, despite the home team’s pressure. Even when Mika Niemi and Tommi Huhtala struck in the second period to wipe out a 1-3 deficit, the visitor responded with a marker from Vladislav Ushenin to regain the initiative and set up that third-period siege.

SKA closes in on its century

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Avangard Omsk 2 (1-1, 2-0, 0-1)

Avangard finally had the chance to celebrate a goal from a forward – after 11 periods of relying solely on contributions from its D-men – but Ilya Mikheyev’s 52nd-minute effort here was not enough to prevent a fourth successive defeat.

The visitor shrugged off its recent problems to take an early lead when Maxim Chudinov opened the scoring against his former club. The defenseman struck in the seventh minute, arriving at the far post to put away Teddy Purcell’s feed. But the lead didn’t last long, as Sergei Plotnikov got the vital touch on Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot to convert a power play chance and tie the scores going into the first intermission.

The game was still level at the midway point, but SKA finished the second period with a two-goal advantage and never looked likely to let that slip. Vladislav Gavrikov put the host in front, and Vyacheslav Voynov made it 3-1 with a power play effort late in the frame. Mikheyev’s goal offered Avangard a chance of retrieving the game, but SKA held on and moves on to 99 points from 37 games – 21 points clear of its closest rival

Photo: 29.11.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Avangard (Omsk region)

Shumakov’s stunner

CSKA 3 Moscow Kunlun Red Star 1 (2-0, 0-1, 1-0)

Sergei Shumakov scored a beauty to help CSKA to victory in this one.

His big moment came in the 13th minute with an audacious piece of skill from behind the net. Flipping the puck onto his stick, he whirled it round, lacrosse-style, and stuffed it through the smallest of gaps over Magnus Hellberg’s shoulder in a play reminiscent of Mikael Granlund’s famous 2011 World Championship goal against Russia. That made it 2-0 to the host after Geoff Platt gave the Army Men the lead, and brought an early end to the Swedish goalie’s evening.

Red Star, in wretched form and ringing the changes behind the scenes to leave Mike Keenan free to concentrate on coaching his team out of its slump, gave a debut to new signing Taylor Beck after his arrival from Avtomobilist. The team also grabbed a lifeline after five minutes of the second period, when Gilbert Brule pounced on the rebound after Pavel Vorobei’s shot came back off the boards. The Canadian forward squeezed his shot underneath Lars Johansson’s arm on the blocker side, and the puck dropped over the line before Artyom Blazhiyevsky could hook it clear.

CSKA was not to be unduly inconvenienced, though, and Roman Lyubimov made it 3-1 early in the third. The Army Men remain comfortable in second place in the West; Red Star continues to struggle in the East.

Photo: 29.11.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. CSKA (Moscow) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Andy Potts,
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Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
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Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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