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Amur Khabarovsk edged in front of Barys to go to eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 victory over Severstal. That result also boosted Spartak’s playoff push, as the Red-and-Whites won in Vladivostok to move three points clear of the Steelmen in the Western playoff race. The day’s third meeting saw Slovan snap an eight-game losing streak when Patrik Lamper’s first KHL goal downed Jokerit 3-2.

Amur climbs into playoff spot

Amur Khabarovsk 4 Severstal Cherepovets 2 (0-0, 2-1, 2-1)

Amur does not have a good record of reaching the playoffs. In fact, since the KHL was formed, the Khabarovsk team has managed just one post-season campaign. That was in 2012, under the guidance of Hannu Jortikka. But today’s victory at home to Severstal lifts the Far East team into eighth place, moving ahead of Barys and staking a real case for a playoff spot this season.

With an opponent equally determined to get back to the playoffs after four successive failures, Amur had to work hard to win this one. Severstal, ninth in the West, kept the game deadlocked until the midway stage and only yielded the winning goal in the 52nd minute. Jan Kolar opened the scoring for Amur with a power play goal in the 31st minute, but it took just 75 seconds for Severstal to get and convert a power play of its own. Maxim Veryovkin got the goal.

The home team moved in front again a minute later with Kirill Rasskazov and Alexandre Picard collecting the first of their three-point hauls. The duo combined to set up Tomas Zohorna for the 2-1 goal.

Severstal levelled it up again through Maxim Rybin right at the start of the third, but Picard scored off a Rasskazov assist to break that 2-2 tie and ultimately secure the win. Rasskazov potted a fourth late on with Picard and Zohora providing the helpers.

Photo: 26.12.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Amur (Khabarovsk) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Spartak powers past Admiral

Admiral Vladivostok 2 Spartak Moscow 6 (0-1, 1-2, 1-3)

Spartak, another team looking to return to the playoffs after a long absence, moved three points clear of Severstal thanks to this comfortable win at Admiral. For the second time this season, the Red-and-Whites scored six on the Sailors in regulation; this time, there was no need for overtime to separate the teams.

Kirill Koltsov potted his first goal since joining Spartak from Traktor, opening the scoring in only his second outing for his new employer. That was the only goal of the opening frame, but the middle session saw the visitor jump to a 3-0 lead with two goals in 12 seconds. Anatoly Nikontsev scored on the power play before Vyacheslav Leshchenko extended the advantage. Ivan Mishchenko got one back for Admiral, but the game seemed to be gone.

Koltsov added an assist to his first Spartak goal, helping Alexander Khokhlachyov to make it 4-1 early in the third. Within a minute, Ville Lajunen added a fifth before Nazir Gichibekov got a second for the home team. Khokhlachyov was then removed from the game, but Nikontsev scored another as Spartak rattled up six. Nikontsev now has 4+1 from his last four games. For Admiral, the sole consolation was the sight of the club’s young prospects making the most of their chance to play, with two 22-year-olds getting the team’s goals. Mishchenko claimed his first career KHL tally, Gichibekov potted only his second.

Lamper lights up Slovan’s win

Jokerit Helsinki 2 Slovan Bratislava 3 (1-1, 0-2, 1-0)

Patrik Lamper’s first KHL goal helped Slovan to snap an eight-game losing streak with a surprise success at Jokerit.

The 24-year-old forward, previously with Banska Bystrica in the Slovak championship, enjoyed his big moment late in the second period. He pounced on a loose puck in center ice and advanced to fire home a wrist shot from the left-hand circle. That made it 3-1 to Slovan, after Jan Buchtele and Michal Repik responded to Henri Ikonen’s early opener for the Finns.

Jokerit, still up in third in the Western Conference but in danger of being overtaken by Lokomotiv, looked for a way back in the final frame. Pekka Jormakka pulled a goal back in the 45th minute and the Finns fired in 19 shots on Jakub Stepanek’s net in the closing stages, but could not find a way to take the action into overtime.

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Admiral (Vladivostok) Admiral (Vladivostok)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
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