Andy Potts,
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Overtime wins for Dynamo and Severstal mean the Western Conference playoff race is tighter than ever – and it could all hang on a massive Moscow derby between Spartak and Dynamo on March 1. In the East, Amur missed the chance to close on eighth-placed Sibir; it’s 0-3 loss at Lokomotiv confirms Traktor and Avtomobilist’s tickets to post-season. Dinamo Minsk is now out of contention following a 2-3 loss at home to Admiral.

Wolski haunts his former club

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 Kunlun Red Star 1 (0-0, 1-1, 3-0)

Wojtek Wolski began the season in China, and produced 28 points in 32 games for Kunlun. But today, he eclipsed Red Star with a game-winning display against his old teammates.

Wolski’s evening started with an assist as Matt Ellison opened the scoring. A well-taken reply from Gilbert Brule tied the game in the second period, but a tired Red Star team fell away in the third. Wolski was first to profit, cashing in on a defensive error to make it 2-1. Then he assisted on Sergei Mozyakin’s strike to make it three. Finally, Evgeny Timkin scored off a lovely no-look pass from Denis Kokarev to wrap up the win.

Timkin played his 500th KHL game, while Evgeny Biryukov reached an even greater milestone with his 800th appearance for Metallurg.

Bailen double sends Traktor to playoffs

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Avangard Omsk 1 (0-0, 3-1, 0-0)

Defenseman Nick Bailen scored twice to help Traktor come from behind and beat Avangard – a result that secures a playoff place for the Chelyabinsk team.

Avangard, out to regain top spot in the Chernyshev Division, was looking good after Ilya Mikheyev opened the scoring following a defensive error right at the start of the second period. But subsequently, the visitor fell away: head coach German Titov claimed his team was unrecognizable after taking the lead, and Traktor hit back with three goals.

Bailen got the first two, twice smashing home feeds from Richard Gynge to turn the game around. The Swede also assisted on Traktor’s third, scored by Artyom Borodkin, as the host finished the middle frame with a flourish. Avangard improved in the third, but found no way back into the game.

Photo: 22.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Traktor (Chelyabinsk) - Avangard (Omsk region)

Sudnitsin stars as Amur comes up short

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (0-0, 3-0, 0-0)

Alexander Sudnitsin had an assist and a shut-out as Lokomotiv dealt a blow to Amur’s playoff hopes.

The visitor was looking to close to within a single point of Amur, but a second-period stutter sent the Far East team home with nothing. Yegor Averin opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, scoring on the second attempt after Sudnitsin launched a short-handed counter-attack. Artyom Ilyenko made it 2-0 midway through the frame, and young Artur Kayumov completed the scoring with the best goal of the night seconds before the intermission.

Loko’s win, and Sudnitsin’s second successive shut-out, secures a top-four finish and a home start in the playoffs. Amur now faces double-headers against Kunlun Red Star and Admiral in a bid to force its way into the top eight in the East.

Voronin ends Minsk’s playoff hopes

Dinamo Minsk 2 Admiral Vladivostok 3 (0-0, 2-1, 0-2)

Admiral’s Kirill Voronin drove the final nail into Dinamo’s playoff hopes with a last-minute winner in Minsk.

His game-winner removed any mathematical prospect of the Belarusians making post-season, adding to the home team’s pain after it let a 2-0 lead slip away. Dinamo knew that only three points would keep its season alive, and withdrew goalie Jhonas Enroth for the closing moments of the game … but was stung by Voronin on the counter-attack and slumped to a 2-3 reverse.

Earlier, it all looked very different for the home team. The second period brought power play goals for Justin Fontain and Charles Linglet, and the playoff dream still seemed to be alive. But Ivan Mishchenko hit back in the 36th minute for Admiral, and tied it up early in the third before Voronin’s dramatic decider.

Tereshchenko keeps Dynamo in the playoff race

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Dynamo Moscow 3 OT (1-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

SKA vs Dynamo. Overtime. And a contentious call about kicking the puck. For fans with long memories, it could almost have been the playoffs of 2012.

On that occasion, Dynamo profited hugely: SKA saw a potential winning goal chalked off in the start of the Western Conference final series, and Dynamo snatched victory moments later on its way to Gagarin Cup glory. Today’s verdict, in favor of Alexei Tereshchenko, may not have the same implications, but it could prove decisive in the race for a playoff place. He scored in the third minute of overtime, deflecting Mikhail Varnakov’s diagonal feed beyond Igor Shestyorkin. SKA claimed the puck was kicked home, but the review went with the attacking team.

Tereshchenko’s goal, and its confirmation by the video officials, gave Dynamo an unexpected victory and set the Blue-and-Whites leaping from ninth to seventh, one point clear of Spartak and Severstal. There’s one game left for Tereshchenko and his colleagues – the small matter of a head-to-head against Spartak on March 1.

Earlier in the game, Dynamo twice came from behind: there was no sign of Oleg Znarok giving his former club a helping hand here. Vadim Shipachyov put SKA in front early on, Nikita Gusev’s helper put him level in the KHL scoring charts. Martins Karsums tied the game, but Sergei Kalinin restored the home advantage on the power play early in the second period. Ilya Kovalchuk’s assist returned him to the outright lead in that scoring race. Dynamo, though, would not be denied. Young Vladislav Yefremov potted another tying goal late in the middle frame, and neither team could find a way through in the third.

Photo: 22.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Dynamo (Moscow)

Trubachyov’s pair trumps Khokhlachyov’s hat-trick

Spartak Moscow 3 Severstal Cherepovets 4 OT (1-0, 2-2, 0-1, 0-1)

Alexander Khokhlachyov’s first ever KHL hat-trick was not enough to book Spartak its place in this year’s playoffs as Severstal snatched an overtime win.

Victory in regulation would have secured Spartak’s playoff place regardless of Dynamo’s result at SKA. But instead of celebrating a long-awaited return to post-season, the Red-and-Whites now face an anxious wait: victory over Dinamo Riga on Wednesday cannot secure a top-eight finish, and it could go down to a head-to-head against Dynamo on the last day of the season.

For Severstal, saved by Yury Trubachyov’s double, the playoff dream lives on. Victory in its two remaining games would guarantee the Steelmen a place, but that straightforward equation is complicated by the opposition. Severstal must travel to SKA and CSKA at the end of the season.

With so much to play for, Monday’s game was a good one. Khokhlachyov opened the scoring with a power play goal late in the first period, but Severstal responded in the second to lead thanks to goals from Matej Stransky and Dmitry Kagarlitsky. However, penalty trouble set the visitor back: Khokhlachyov got two more goals on the PP, and Spartak led going into the third.

Then came Trubachyov. A tying goal on 49 minutes took us to overtime, and the forward finished the job three minutes into the extras. Severstal and Spartak are now tied on 79 points, one behind Dynamo Moscow.

Photo: 22.01.18. KHL Championship 2017/18. Spartak (Moscow) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Ugra climbs off foot of Eastern table

Dinamo Riga 1 Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 2 OT (1-0, 0-0, 0-1, 0-1)

Dinamo missed the chance to climb off the foot of the KHL table when it suffered an overtime loss against Ugra.

Just three points separated the teams at the start of play, and a first-period goal from Anssi Salmela gave the Latvians hope of bridging that gap. However, Dinamo could not build on that advantage and was punished in the final frame when Pavel Varfolomeyev tied it up. Velli-Mati Savinainen, called into Finland’s Olympic roster, was among the assists on that score.

The winner came 73 seconds into the extras. Czech defenseman Ondrej Vitacek fired home only his second ever KHL goal to win the game for Ugra and lift the Mammoths off the foot of the Eastern Conference.

Andy Potts,
exclusive for

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