Andy Potts,
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There were important victories in the Western Conference for Spartak and Severstal, with both teams moving clear of Dynamo in the race for a playoff spot in the West. Torpedo suffered a sixth successive loss, and in Latvia, Sochi grabbed a shoot-out victory despite trailing in the last minute against Dinamo Riga.

Stoa strikes lift Spartak over Neftekhimik

Spartak Moscow 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 (1-1, 2-1, 0-0)

Two goals from Ryan Stoa tipped the balance in Spartak’s favor and helped to push Dynamo out of the playoff places.

Stoa opened the scoring after 34 seconds, and his second of the game in the 29th minute proved to be the winner. In between those two, Neftekhimik twice tied the game. Ziga Jeglic cancelled out Stoa opener, then Kamil Fazylzyanov responded to a Vyacheslav Leshchenko goal.

If Stoa’s double had Spartak celebrating, Neftekhimik was left cursing an unwanted double of its own. Twice, the visitor had goals disallowed, which left head coach Andrei Nazarov complaining that the officials put his team in a headlock. The first incident came late in the second period, and th goal was ruled out for goalie interference. The second was in the 54th minute, and the officials gave an offside call. Those decisions meant that Neftekhimik went down to a third successive loss.

Photo: 08.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Spartak (Moscow) - Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)

Karlin double sends Severstal up to eighth

Severstal Cherepovets 5 Ak Bars Kazan 2 (2-2, 1-0, 2-0)

Severstal roared back into the top eight with an emphatic victory over Ak Bars, but the visitor fluffed its chance to extend its lead in the Eastern Conference.

The game exploded into life in the eighth minute as the teams traded three goals. Vadim Kudako put the host in front, but two goals in 20 seconds saw Stanislav Galimov and Justin Azevedo give Ak Bars the lead.

That might have been the cue for the Kazan team to take control, but Severstal had other ideas. Adam Masuhr tied it up before the first intermission, and the Steelmen never looked back. Two goals from Ruslan Karlin and another from Yury Trubachyov made the final scoreline comfortable for the host. Severstal moves a point ahead of ninth-placed Dynamo, and still has two games in hand on the Blue-and-Whites.

Photo: 08.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Severstal (Cherepovets) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

Another slip for Torpedo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 SO (2-0, 0-2, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Torpedo dropped a 2-0 lead to miss out in a shoot-out and slip to a sixth consecutive defeat.

Head coach Peteris Skudra was left trying to talk up the positives from another frustrating evening, and he had to admit that this was a game his team should have won. However, after goals from Vladimir Galuzin and Andrei Kostitsyn helped the host forge ahead in the first period, Salavat Yulaev got back into it after the intermission. The visitor tied the game thanks to Dmitry Sayustov and Enver Lisin.

There was one goal apiece in the third stanza, with Kostitsyn getting his second of the night to put Torpedo back in front with less than two minutes left. But the lead lasted a matter of seconds: Philip Larsen fired Salavat level and took the game to a shoot-out. Anton Burdasov decided the outcome as Torpedo failed to score on any of its attempts; Skudra was left wondering when his team’s unhappy time would come to an end.

Sochi recovers to win in a shoot-out

Dinamo Riga 3 HC Sochi 4 SO (1-1, 2-0, 0-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Results earlier in the day brought Dinamo Riga’s playoff hopes to an official end, but the Latvians were in no mood to disappear quietly. With Sochi looking to extend a three-game winning streak and stay ahead of the dogfight for the last playoff tickets in the West, Dinamo came within seconds of victory in regulation time before falling in the shoot-out.

Sochi overcame some early adversity, killing a five-on-three penalty in the first period and even grabbing a short-handed goal through Eric O’Dell to grab the lead. It wasn’t long before Brandon McMillan tied it up for Riga, but the first period was an even battle.

In the second, though, Mikelis Redlihs scored twice to tip the balance in Dinamo’s favor. His first came on the power play 14 seconds into the second frame and he stretched the home team’s lead in the 35th minute. Lauris Darzins assisted on both markers.

But Dinamo’s dominance in the middle session brought an instant response from Sochi at the start of the third. Sean Collins scored 33 seconds after the restart to put the game back in the balance. The visitor went on to have by far the better of the play, limiting Dinamo to a solitary shot on goal, but had to wait until the final seconds before Collins struck again to take the game to overtime.

Ultimately it went to a shoot-out, and Sochi goalie Dmitry Shikin denied Dinamo at every turn as Vadim Khlopotov claimed the game-winner for the visitor.

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
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