Andy Potts,
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Two-time Gagarin Cup winner Dynamo Moscow has played in all nine KHL playoffs to date – but after a 4-5 derby loss against Spartak, that proud record is under serious threat. Even wins in its next three games might not be enough to earn a top-eight finish in a tight Western Conference. In the East, Sibir remains a point ahead of Amur in the race for eighth, but Amur has two games in hand on its Siberian rival. Nikolai Prokhorkin scored four as SKA eased to victory over Admiral, and Barys snapped a nine-game losing streak with success at Avtomobilist.

Avangard suffers fourth straight loss

Avangard Omsk 1 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 (1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

A late goal from Richard Gynge gave Traktor victory in Omsk – and sent Avangard spinning to a fourth consecutive loss.

The home team, which has been looking for a strong finish to a frustrating regular season after the arrival of new head coach German Titov, made a solid start when Andre Petersson opened the scoring. The Swede struck on the power play in the ninth minute, to claim his second goal this week.

However, Igor Polygalov’s unassisted effort tied the game within five minutes, and Gynge scored in the 54th to give Traktor the verdict. Pavel Francouz finished with 40 saves as Avangard’s offense failed to take its chances.

Photo: 18.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Avangard (Omsk region) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Barys maintains playoff hopes with long-awaited win

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Barys Astana 4 (0-1, 1-2, 1-1)

It may prove to be ‘too little, too late’ for Barys, but after a run of nine consecutive defeats the Kazakh team got a much-needed victory.

Success in Yekaterinburg keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive – albeit only just – but Barys needs to win its last four games and hope that Sibir fails to collect another point if it is to have a chance of sneaking into the top eight.

Roman Starchenko scored twice, making it four goals in two games for him, to settle the outcome after Yaroslav Yevdokimov and Nikita Mikhailis opened a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game.

Late goals ease Magnitka’s path to victory

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 0 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 (0-0, 0-1, 0-2)

On the face of it, the scoreline seemed comfortable for Magnitka, with last season’s runner-up recording its fourth victory in six games against lowly opposition. The reality, though, was a game that remained competitive until the final minutes, when two late goals for the visitor wrapped up the victory.

Metallurg dominated the opening exchanges, but could not find a way past home goalie Timur Bilyalov until the last minute of the second period. Matt Ellison solved the problem, scoring off a Sergei Mozyakin assist.

The final frame saw more evidence of the home offense getting into the game, but it proved too late to save anything. Ilya Samsonov ended up with 22 saves, but it wasn’t until Oskar Osala scored into an empty net with 80 second to play that Metallurg made the result safe. There was still time for Ellison and Mozyakin to combine for Wojtech Wolski to score a third in the last minute.

Sibir edges Lada, stays in top eight

Lada Togliatti 0 Sibir Novosibirsk 1 (0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Sibir picked up a vital victory to remain a point clear of Amur in the race for eighth place – but it took a late goal to snatch the win.

Patrik Zackrisson got the only goal, converting a power play in the 58th minute to settle the outcome. His fellow Swede, Alexander Bergstrom, saw his 15-game productive streak come to an end on a day when goalies were on top.

Visiting netminder Alexander Salak claimed the W, making 22 saves. The Czech recorded his first shut-out since September 2016. Sibir twice hit the post, through Andrei Sigaryov and Vladimir Pervushin, while Lada had a first-period goal disallowed.

Quickfire double defeats Dinamo

Dinamo Minsk 1 Kunlun Red Star 3 (0-1, 1-2, 0-0)

Two goals in 40 seconds late in the second period gave Red Star the win and left Dinamo Minsk one defeat away from missing out on the playoffs.

Dinamo can still reach 79 points for the season, but with Spartak on 78 and Severstal on 76, the odds are against the Belarusians in the race for the top eight.

In this game, Olympic-bound Gilbert Brule gave Red Star an early lead on the power play, but most of the scoring came in a brief spell in the middle frame. Justin Fontain tied it up on 36:32 as Dinamo made the most of a delayed penalty call. But Kunlun responded with goals from Cory Kane and Kyle Chipchura 38 seconds apart, and went into the second intermission 3-1 to the good.

Dynamo on the brink

Dynamo Moscow 4 Spartak Moscow 5 (1-0, 1-2, 2-3)

Dynamo faces the prospect of missing out on the playoffs for the first time in its KHL history. The two-time Gagarin Cup winner has just three games left in the regular season, and lies ninth in the Western Conference after losing to Spartak for the third time this season.

The result sees the Red-and-Whites move three points clear of their city rivals, and although Severstal is just two points better off than Dynamo, the Muscovites have played a game more.

Dmitry Chernykh made the difference for Spartak here, scoring twice as his team produced a three-goal burst in just four minutes either side of the second intermission. Chernykh tied the game late in the second period, Dmitry Kalinin put Spartak ahead for the first time with a power play goal early in the third, and Chernykh got his second a minute later to make it a long road back for Dynamo. When Alexander Khokhlachyov added a fifth, it seemed that Spartak would romp to victory, but Ilya Nikulin and Vladimir Bryukvin struck late on to keep the game alive until the very end.

Earlier, Mikhail Varnakov gave the host a first-period lead, and Ivan Igumnov reinstated that advantage moments after Ryan Stoa tied the game in the second. Spartak suffered a blow in the third period when defenseman Alexei Pepelyayev was stretchered off after suffering a head injury following an attempted hit on Martins Karsums.

Photo: 18.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Dynamo (Moscow) - Spartak (Moscow)

Prokhorkin scores four, leads SKA to victory

SKA St. Petersburg 7 Admiral Vladivostok 2 (2-1, 4-0, 1-1)

This battle between two of Russia’s great naval cities proved to be plain sailing for the league leader after a powerful second-period display left Admiral sinking.

Nikolai Prokhorkin’s quartet was the highlight for the home team. He got three in the middle frame, two on the power play, as SKA stretched its lead. Ilya Kablukov then added a sixth to complete a spurt of three goals in three minutes and put the game well beyond Admiral. Then he added his fourth of the night after Vadim Pereskokov pulled one back for the visitor in the third.

The most unusual incident of the game, though, came in the first period. SKA was up 2-0 on goals from Patrik Hersley and Sergei Kalinin when confusion over a delayed penalty saw both goalies head to the benches as the teams briefly played 6-on-6. SKA’s D-man Andrei Zubarev found himself deputizing for Igor Shestyorkin, blocking an Ivan Fishchenko shot from centre ice before Sergei Plotnikov was sent to the sin bin.

Kozun helps Loko to edge a thriller

Severstal Cherepovets 5 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 6 OT (2-0, 1-4, 2-1, 0-1)

This could be a vital point won for Severstal, or two valuable points dropped in the race for a playoff place. In the event, a tie in regulation saw the Steelmen move two points clear of ninth-placed Dynamo, but only after giving up a 2-0 lead in a disastrous second period.

Goals from Dmitry Kagarlitsky and Ruslan Karlin got the host off to a fine start, but Loko responded with three goals in five minutes at the start of the middle frame. Jakub Nakladal, Alexander Yelesin and Artyom Ilyenko did the damage as the visitor stormed into the lead; Staffan Kronwall added a fourth in the 36th minute.

But Pavel Chernov struck seconds before the intermission to give Severstal hope, and Nikolai Stasenko tied the game in the third. Georgy Ivanov quickly put Loko back on top, only for Alexander Yevseyenkov to make it 5-5 with six minutes to play.

After securing one point, Severstal was unable to add a second: 41 seconds into the extras, Brandon Kozun got the decisive marker for Lokomotiv.

Photo: 18.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Severstal (Cherepovets) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Amur keeps up playoff push

Dinamo Riga 3 Amur Khabarovsk 4 (1-2, 0-0, 2-2)

Amur remains one point outside the playoff places with two games in hand on Sibir after picking up all three points in Latvia.

Two goals for Mikelis Redlihs weren’t enough to save the KHL’s basement team from defeat after Vyacheslav Ushenin and Alexei Byvaltsev put Amur 2-0 up in the first period.

After Redlihs’ first reply, Amur stretched its lead with a quick pair of goals at the start of the third. Alexander Frolov and Alexandre Picard scored within 59 seconds of each other to give the visitor a comfortable lead. Redlihs pulled one back, and Anssi Salmela made it 3-4 to give Amur plenty to think about in the closing stages. However, the visitor held on to record its third successive victory.

Photo: 18.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Dinamo (Riga) - Amur (Khabarovsk)

Andy Potts,
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