Andy Potts,
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Lokomotiv becomes the fourth team to clinch a playoff place after a 3-1 win at Dinamo Minsk, while CSKA goalie Ilya Sorokin gets his second point of the season in a 4-3 triumph over Avtomobilist.

Amur returns to a playoff spot

Amur Khabarovsk 3 Barys Astana 1 (0-0, 1-0, 2-1)

Astana is the focus of All-Star attention this week, but for the city’s team it’s all about getting back into playoff contention. Victory at an Amur team also chasing the top eight could have closed the gap to a couple of points; instead defeat stretched Barys’ sorry streak to six straight losses and just two wins in 17 games.

Amur also had cause for concern ahead of the game, with three successive home defeats enabling Sibir to sneak into eighth place. Early tensions for both teams spilled into a fight between Vyacheslav Ushenin and Roman Savchenko five minutes into a tight first frame. After the intermission, though, Amur began to power up its offense and got the opening goal through Jan Kolar just after the half-hour.

However, the home team did not get full value for its domination, and was caught out by a Kevin Dallman power play goal early in the third. That drew an immediate response: Alexander Gorshkov restored Amur’s lead just 20 seconds later, and this time there was no way back for Barys. Georgy Berdyukov made it 3-1 soon after and the rest of the game turned into a niggly, penalty-strewn battle as Amur took the win.

Glazkov’s goal gives Admiral the edge

Admiral Vladivostok 2 Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

There are signs, at last, that Admiral’s fortunes are improving. Today’s game brought a second successive victory for the team, banishing the specter of a nightmare six-game losing streak as the playing staff was radically reshaped.

Admittedly, the Mariners did not have it all their own way: Ugra enjoyed the better of the first period, helped by Samvel Mnatsyan’s ejection for high sticking, and took the lead on that power play when Anton Korolyov opened the scoring.

But Admiral recovered. Back to full strength in the middle frame, the host got back into the game and tied the scores through Denis Vikharev. In the final stanza, Ugra created more of the chances, but it was Admiral that made one count. Ivan Glazkov got the winner in the 54th minute.

Vityaz eases past Lada

Vityaz Moscow Region 5 Lada Togliatti 1 (2-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Vityaz enjoyed a comfortable home win as Lada remains rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference.

With neither team in any serious playoff contention, the pressure was off – and Vityaz eased into a 2-0 lead in the first period. Alexei Makeyev and Anton Lazarev struck in quick succession midway through the stanza, and the outcome of the game was largely settled.

There remained plenty of time for further embellishments. Roman Horak made it 3-0 before Alexander Nikulin added a power play goal to his third-period assist. Shane Harper got one back for Lada, but the third period saw Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi make it 5-1.

Loko books playoff ticket

Dinamo Minsk 1 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 (0-0, 1-1, 0-2)

Loko became the third team to officially confirm its playoff place this season after two third-period goals saw off Dinamo.

Neither goalie was overworked in the first period, but the home team managed to get ahead early in the second. Quinton Howden opened the scoring in the 25th minute. However, the lead was short-lived and Staffan Kronwall’s power play strike ensured it was all square at the second intermission.

Alexander Kadeikin’s effort early in the final frame proved to be the game-winner; a last-minute Max Talbot goal wrapped up the win. Lokomotiv’s progress, however, leaves Dinamo’s playoff hopes looking slim. The Belarusians are nine points adrift of eighth-placed Severstal, and both clubs have just seven games to play.

Tolvanen enjoys a winning return

Jokerit Helsinki 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Traktor has never won a KHL game in Helsinki, and rarely threatened to snap that sequence today as Eeli Tolvanen returned to action and got his 33rd point of the season.

Tolvanen, who was part of Finland’s team in the World Junior Championship that ended last week, got an assist as Brian O’Neill opened the scoring after 54 seconds. It was the youngster’s 15th helper of the season, and took him ahead of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s record for an 18-year-old in the KHL.

It also set the pace for a comfortable victory. Pekka Jormakka added a second on a delayed penalty late in the middle period, then Niclas Jensen added a third in the 47th minute. Ryan Zapolski made 25 saves.

Battling Kunlun loses out to SKA

SKA St. Petersburg 4 Kunlun Red Star 2 (2-2, 1-0, 1-0)

Red Star failed to record its first victory over SKA, but the Chinese club ruffled a few feathers at the defending champion before succumbing on Tuesday.

Taylor Beck – who will be hoping to line up against Oleg Znarok’s Russian team at the Olympics – gave the visitor a surprise lead in the third minute. SKA responded quickly: Sergei Plotnikov tied it up and Nikita Gusev made it 2-1, but Cory Kane’s 13th-minute strike tied the scores at the first intermission.

It wasn’t until deep into the second period that SKA regained the lead. Nikolai Prokhorkin got the goal, finishing off from close range after a defenseman tried to block his first shot. And the game was not safe until late on when Plotnikov got his second of the night.

Photo: 09.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Golyshev’s double can’t save Avto

CSKA Moscow 4 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 (1-2, 1-0, 2-1)

CSKA goalie Ilya Sorokin got his second point of the season, assisting on the Army Men’s third goal, as his team won an entertaining clash against high-flying Avto.

It was a meeting of the second best records in East and West, and in the first period Avtomobilist showed why it is upsetting the odds in its conference. Goals from Yegor Milovzorov and Anatoly Golyshev gave the visitor the lead; Mikhail Grigorenko’s reply kept CSKA in touch.

The home team finally tied the scores through Sergei Shumakov late in the second before Sorokin’s helper enabled Valery Nichushkin to put CSKA in front for the first time. Ivan Telegin extended that lead; Golyshev’s second of the night wasn’t enough to save the Motormen.

Photo: 09.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. CSKA (Moscow) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

Slovan holds on to beat Metallurg

Slovan Bratislava 4 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 (1-0, 3-1, 0-2)

Slovan outlasted a third-period onslaught from Magnitka to celebrate one of the highlights of its season so far.

After 40 minutes, things looked comfortable for the Slovaks. An early Juraj Mikus goal was followed by further markers from Nick Ebert, Marek Sloboda and Zach Boychuk in the middle frame as the home team took a grip on proceedings. Wojtek Wolski’s reply, his second for the club since returning from Kunlun, was the best Metallurg could muster.

In the final 10 minutes, though, the visitor clawed itself back into contention. Young defenseman Nikita Bobryashov, 22, got his first ever KHL goal to reduce the arrears, then Matt Ellison got it back to 3-4 with five minutes to go. But Slovan survived a tense finish to celebrate a memorable victory in a difficult campaign.

Andy Potts,
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Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
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Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk) Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk)
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