Andy Potts,
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A trio of late goals earned Avangard a 6-3 win at Metallurg in the highest-scoring game of the day. Ilya Kovalchuk moved to the top of the scoring charts as he helped SKA to a 5-0 win at home to Amur, while Dynamo Moscow moved ahead of Severstal in the race for the Western playoffs.

Traktor battles back

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Ugra Khanty-Mansiyk 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Traktor came from behind to defeat the Eastern Conference’s basement club, and moved ahead of neighbor Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the standings.

Alexander Ugolnikov fired Ugra ahead in the first period, as Traktor struggled to get its game going in the early stages. In the middle frame, though, the home team began to play to its potential and reaped the rewards when Alexei Kruchinin’s defense-splitting pass set up Igor Polygalov for the tying goal.

The winner came early in the third through Marsel Sholokhov. The 20-year-old forward got his first ever KHL goal to settle the outcome of this game when he got the vital touch on Alexander Rybakov’s shot and surprised Timur Bilyalov in the visitor’s net.

Six-shooting Avangard ends losing streak

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Avangard Omsk 6 (2-2, 0-1, 1-3)

Three goals in the last four minutes saw Avangard pick up a surprisingly comfortable win in Magnitogorsk, snapping a four-game losing streak and reclaiming top spot in the Chernyshev Division.

Teddy Purcell and Andre Petersson won the game for the visitor, combining for a goal and an assist apiece to snap a 3-3 tie and push Avangard to a 5-3 lead with two minutes left. Then Maxim Chudinov added an empty-netter to wrap up the win and spare the visitor’s blushes after it gave up an early 2-0 lead.

That bright start had come courtesy of Ilya Mikheyev and Chad Rau – the latter assisted by Petersson – in the first 10 minutes. But it was all square at the intermission after Andrei Chibisov and Matt Ellison scored on Dominik Furch twice in 13 seconds.

Avangard regained the lead in the middle frame thanks to Nikita Samokhvalov, but Sergei Mozyakin tied it up in the 56thminute.

Sudnitsin blanks Red Star

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Kunlun Red Star 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Alexander Sudnitsin made 33 saves as Lokomotiv shut out Kunlun Red Star and maintained its perfect record against the Chinese team.

At the other end, Red Star’s understudy goalie Alexander Skrynnik had a busy afternoon, facing 45 shots from the home offense. Jakub Nakladal’s rocket from the blue line was the first to beat the ex-SKA man, giving Loko the lead in the 16thminute.

But Red Star was not about to roll over, and the game remained in the balance until the dying seconds, despite Lokomotiv’s dominance in a goalless middle frame. Yegor Averin finally converted a clean rush to the net, making it 2-0 for Loko and sealing the points.

Severstal slips out of playoff places

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 5 Severstal Cherepovets 3 (0-1, 2-0, 3-2)

Severstal’s playoff hopes took a knock with this defeat in Nizhny Novgorod. Saturday’s loss, coupled with Dynamo’s home win over Admiral, sends the Steelmen down to ninth place – albeit with a game in hand on the Muscovites.

The opening session went well for the visitor, with Matej Stransky getting the only goal of the period after his team absorbed some Torpedo pressure. But the second period saw Kaspars Daugavins score twice to put Torpedo ahead.

In the third, Danill Vovchenko scored twice, bringing Severstal level at 2-2 along the way, but Geoff Kinrade, a power play goal from Tomas Kundratek and an empty net goal from Mikhail Zhukov saw Torpedo to the win.

Photo: 20.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Dynamo keeps its hopes alive

Dynamo Moscow 4 Admiral Vladivostok 0 (1-0, 2-0, 1-0)

After a derby defeat to Spartak left Dynamo’s playoff hopes on the brink, victory over Admiral was essential for the Blue-and-Whites. And, with the pressure on, a shut-out from Alexander Yeryomenko was just the foundation the team needed.

Dynamo’s goalie stopped 20 shots to keep Admiral at bay, and once Juuso Hietanen settled some nerves with the opening goal late in the first period, it was plain sailing for the host. Yakov Rylov and Vladimir Bryukvin pushed the lead to 3-0 early in the second period, and Dmitry Markovin added a fourth to put the issue beyond doubt.

Dynamo moves up to eighth place, one point clear of Severstal and level with Spartak. But the Blue-and-Whites have just two games left in the regular season: Severstal has three and Spartak four.

SKA celebrates title triumph

SKA St. Petersburg 5 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (1-0, 2-0, 2-0)

Yesterday, SKA was confirmed as regular season champion. Today, Oleg Znarok’s team celebrated with a thumping win over playoff chasing Amur.

In truth, this game was only competitive in the first period. Amur, looking for a win that would lift it above Sibir into eighth place in the East, was willing to trade blows with SKA in the early stages. But once Yegor Rykov put the host up, there was no way back for the visitor.

How dominant was SKA subsequently? Amur had 12 shots in the first period, and just seven more in the next two as Igor Shestyorkin’s evening got steadily less stressful. At the other end, the goals kept coming: Sergei Shirokov and Vladislav Gavrikov in the second period, Ilya Kovalchuk and a second for Gavrikov in the third. Kovi’s assist on Gavrikov’s second moves him to 62 (31+31) points for the season, one ahead of his colleague Nikita Gusev in the KHL scoring charts.

Andy Potts,
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