Andy Potts,
exclusive for

Today’s big stories all came from the Urals. Traktor, marking the 70th anniversary of hockey in the city, celebrated with a 3-2 win over Lokomotiv. Avtomobilist surprised SKA to win 4-3. And Metallurg’s Matt Ellison scored a hat-trick to help flatten Dynamo 5-1. Further south, Anton Lander had four points as Ak Bars won 5-2 at Barys.

Sibir fights back to close on top eight

Sibir Novosibirsk 4 HC Sochi 3 (1-1, 1-1, 2-1)

Sibir trailed twice, but rallied to pick up an important victory in its playoff push. The 4-3 success over Sochi moves Vladimir Yurzinov’s team to within three points of eighth-placed Amur, and lifts it above Barys.

Sochi is also seeking points to boost its playoff prospects, and made the better start. The visitor took the lead early in the first two periods, with Sergei Shmelyov and Casey Wellman getting the goals. Sibir responded twice, thanks to the in-form Alexander Bergstrom and recent signing Rok Ticar, and the game was level at the third intermission. For Slovenian international Ticar, it was his first goal of the season, while playing for his third club of the campaign.

The home team got ahead for the first time in the 45th minute when Vyacheslav Osnovin made it 3-2. There was still time for the teams to trade another pair of goals: Alexei Tsvetkov tied it up for Sochi, but a couple of minutes later his former Dynamo team-mate Sergei Konkov potted the winner.

Photo: 27.12.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - HC Sochi (Sochi)

Burdasov returns to haunt his former club

Avangard Omsk 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (1-0, 0-1, 0-1)

Salavat Yulaev continued its upturn in form – and despite lying seventh in the Eastern Conference, it finds itself just three points from second place. That’s due to the oddities of the Chernyshev Division, where leader Avangard is on 73 points, just three clear of today’s opponent after losing in Omsk. In the rival Kharlamov Division, that tally would be good enough only for fifth spot.

The game started well enough for the home team. Chad Rau got his first goal for his new club since his arrival from Neftekhimik, and that power play strike was the only score of the first period. But Enver Lisin tied it up for the Salavat Yulaev midway through the second frame, and there was an unwelcome twist in the tale.

Anton Burdasov, prolific for Avangard despite relatively few appearances last season, moved to Ufa via CSKA. With five minutes to play in this game, he reminded his former club what it was missing when he potted the winning goal. Salavat Yulaev was enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage when he collected a Philip Larsen pass and advanced into the deep slot to shoot home the winner. Erkka Westerlund’s team now has seven wins from its last nine games, a good response to a desperate sequence of one success in seven.

Lander stars in Astana

Barys Astana 2 Ak Bars Kazan 5 (0-2, 1-2, 1-1)

Ak Bars tightened its grip on top spot in the Eastern Conference, but Barys drops to 10th as its loss of form continues. The home team had just two wins in 14 games coming into today’s meeting, and never looked like halting that sequence as the visitor took control of the game early on.

Ak Bars scored four unanswered goals inside 33 minutes. Anton Lander contributed a goal and an assist in the first period, with Nikita Yazkov benefiting from the Swede’s helper on the second marker. Rob Klinkhammer’s penalty shot made it 3-0 midway through the game, and Lander was involved yet again as Stanislav Galiyev added a fourth soon afterwards.

Linden Vey belatedly got Barys on the scoreboard, but the game was gone and Lander completed a fine personal performance with his second goal and fourth point of the night. James Wright struck in the last minute, but it was scant consolation for the home team.

Traktor celebrates its anniversary with victory

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 (1-1, 1-1, 1-0)

Chelyabinsk’s hockey credentials are well-known, and the Ural city was eager to celebrate 70 years of playing the game at today’s game against Lokomotiv. In the arena, it was party time, but on the ice there was some serious business to take care of before the home team could claim the victory.

Loko, going well in the Western Conference, is never an easy opponent, and the visitor twice threatened to crash the birthday party. Alexander Polunin was quick to remind Traktor that there was a game on when he opened the scoring after 66 seconds. Igor Polygalov cancelled that one out midway through the first period, but Jakub Nakladal struck early in the second to restore Loko’s advantage.

Once again, Traktor came up with an answer and Richard Gynge tied it up in the 31st minute. Then came the game-winner, and fittingly it was the work of a young, home-grown talent. Artyom Penkovsky, a 22-year-old forward who made his KHL debut for Traktor back in 2014, went through one-on-one with Alexander Sudnitsin and beat him with a backhand to the top corner.

Ugra snatches victory after late Savinainen goal

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 4 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3 SO (0-1, 2-2, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Neftekhimik was seconds away from securing a victory that would keep it level on points with Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars, but blew a winning position to lose in a shoot-out.

A late penalty on Dmitry Ogurtsov enabled Ugra to play six-on-four for the final minute, and Veli-Matti Savinainen cashed in to tie the scores with 25 seconds left. That took the game to a shoot-out, where Vojtech Polak claimed the verdict for the home team.

Earlier, it seemed that Neftekhimik would keep pace with Ak Bars. Emil Galimov gave the visitor the lead late in the first period, and second-period tallies from Bogdan Yakimov and Alexander Avtsin kept the team in front despite replies from Alexander Ugolnikov and Pavel Varfolomeyev.

Chesalin double downs SKA

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4 SKA St. Petersburg 3 (0-0, 3-2, 1-1)

Two goals from Evgeny Chesalin saw Avto edge past the league leader, despite a double from Nikita Gusev at the other end.

Gusev’s pair lifted the Russian international to five points from three games, but it wasn’t enough to secure a third successive victory for the Petersburg team. Instead, Avto forged ahead with two quick goals early in the second frame, building an advantage that it would hold until the end. Vitaly Popov opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, and 44 seconds later Chesalin potted his first to make it 2-0. Sergei Plotnikov pulled one back, but Chesalin released Anatoly Golyshev to make it 3-1 in the 36th minute.

Gusev got his first of the game seconds before the intermission, and SKA was poised to pile on the pressure in the final session. But Avtomobilist – and Chesalin in particular – had other ideas. The forward got his second of the night, assisted for the second time by Golyshev, to make it 4-2 on the power play. Gusev responded almost immediately to keep it tense for the final five minutes, but there was no way back for the visitor.

Photo: 27.12.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

Ellison’s hat-trick powers Metallurg to success

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Dynamo Moscow 1 (2-0, 3-1, 0-0)

Magnitka delivered a resounding victory against a Dynamo team that is in danger of stuttering before it can secure its playoff place.

Matt Ellison blasted a hat-trick for the home team as it powered to victory on the back of a couple of early goals from the Canadian. Ellison opened the scoring in the third minute and doubled the lead in the sixth. His opener was a shot on the turn, and the second was a deflection that took Nikita Pivtsakin’s shot beyond Ivan Bocharov.

Pivtsakin picked up his third assist of the game when Sergei Tereshchenko extended Metallurg’s lead on the power play before Ellison got his third goal when he converted the rebound from a Sergei Mozyakin shot. Dmitry Markovin pulled one back for the visitor, but Andrei Chibisov added a fifth in the 39th minute to wrap up a convincing Metallurg victory. Dynamo, meanwhile, suffered its fourth defeat in five games.

CSKA overpowers Torpedo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 CSKA Moscow 5 (0-1, 1-1, 0-3)

CSKA ran away with this game in the third period after struggling to subdue Torpedo earlier in the game.

The opening frame saw the visitor take the lead late on when Maxim Shalunov claimed a power play goal as former CSKA man Gennady Stolyarov sat on the sidelines. Torpedo, though, was ahead on the shot count and continued to compete hard in the second stanza. Konstantin Okulov added a second for CSKA, but Yegor Dugin’s strike moments before the second intermission suggested a tense finale was in prospect.

Instead, though, CSKA went up a gear and took complete control of the game. Roman Lyubimov made it 3-1 in the 43rd minute, despite claims that he kicked the puck, then Sergei Shumakov added a power play goal to put the game out of reach. Andrei Kuzmenko wrapped it up late on as CSKA recorded another comfortable win.

Andy Potts,
exclusive for
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