Andy Potts Andy Potts
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CSKA defeated Ak Bars in Friday’s big game, while league leader Avtomobilist got past Dinamo Minsk to stay out in front. At the foot of the table, Slovan won 3-1 against Neftekhimik to record back-to-back wins for the first time in more than two months. Jokerit earned a tight verdict over Sochi but Dinamo Riga stumbled at home with a shoot-out loss against Torpedo. There was plenty of action in Ufa: five goals, three fights and a comfortable home win for Salavat Yulaev. Dynamo Moscow moves up to fifth in the West after Dmitry Kagarlitsky inspired a comeback victory against his former club, Severstal.

Sibir gets revenge

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Avangard Omsk 0 (0-0, 1-0, 2-0)

Sibir gained swift revenge for Monday’s 1-3 loss away to Avangard, setting the record straight in today’s return fixture.

Danny Taylor’s third shut-out of the season led Sibir to the win. After a goalless opening, the host stepped up the tempo in the second period and got its reward close to the second intermission. A four-minute penalty on Artyom Manukyan after his stick caught Roman Savchenko in the face gave Nikita Mikhailov the chance to open the scoring.

The final frame saw two more goals, both coming in the closing stages. Nikolai Demidov doubled the lead after 54 minutes and Alexander Loginov’s empty net goal sealed the verdict. Taylor made 23 saves to deny Avangard.

Five in a row for Avto

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Dinamo Minsk 1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

League leader Avtomobilist made it five wins in a row, even though Dinamo managed to silence the potent Dawes-Da Costa-Golyshev line.

The KHL’s top scorer, Nigel Dawes, failed to pick up a point for the first time in 10 games, but Avto’s strength in depth secured a hard-fought victory over the Western Conference struggler. Dinamo threatened a shock when Andrei Kostitsyn gave the visitor a 16th-minute lead, capitalizing on a defensive error to swoop in and beat Jakub Kovar.

The host tied the scores just before the first intermission when a well-worked move involving Dan Sexton and Artyom Gareyev was converted by Alexander Kucheryavenko. That goal was no more than Avtomobilist deserved for an enterprising display on offense, and the home team continued in that vein in the second period but failed to beat Jhonas Enroth in the visitor’s net. The winner came late on when Alexander Torchenyuk converted a Nikita Tryamkin pass to pot his first goal of the season.

Five goals, 136 PIMs

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5 Kunlun Red Star 0 (3-0, 0-0, 2-0)

A stormy game in Ufa produced 136 penalty minutes as Salavat Yulaev earned a convincing victory.

The home team took control in the first period, taking the lead on the first power play of the day. Linus Omark fed Teemu Hartikainen for the opening goal and a minute later Maxim Mayorov made it 2-0. Vladimir Tkachyov added a third before the session ended with the first big fight. Red Star’s Lucas Lockhart took exception to Maxim Rybin’s late hit on Tobias Viklund; after trading blows in center ice, Rybin was removed from the game.

The second period was goalless, although there was a steady string of minor penalties to keep the officials busy. In the third, trouble flared once again. Viklund got a double minor for high sticks, then Pyotr Khokhryakov became the second home player to be ejected after a slashing offense. During that penalty, Vladimir Zharkov potted an empty net and got embroiled in a fight with Kunlun debutant Sam Lofquist – four minutes for each player there. Thirty seconds later we saw another fight. Michael Latta and Stanislav Gareyev were the combatants, with the visitor’s Ville Lajunen getting a misconduct call and becoming the third player to be sent to the locker rooms. Hartikainen got his second of the game to wrap up a big home win.

Barys eases past Traktor

Traktor Chelyabinsk 0 Barys Astana 3 (0-0, 0-2, 0-1)

Traktor slipped to a third loss in four as Barys continued to press for top spot in the Chernyshev Division.

Photo: 28.12.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Traktor (Chelyabinsk) - Barys (Astana)

The game was effectively decided by two goals in a three-minute spell as the second period approached its midway point. First, Darren Dietz released Patrice Cormier for a short-handed goal to give Barys the lead. Then, Pavel Akolzin’s beautiful feed from behind the net set up Dmitry Shevchenko to make it 2-0.

The home team struggled to generate offense in the third period and rarely looked like forcing its way back into the game. Matt Frattin’s 52nd-minute goal put the issue beyond doubt for the visitor, while goalie Henrik Karlsson made 20 saves for his shut-out.

Winning return for Kagarlitsky

Severstal Cherepovets 3 Dynamo Moscow 5 (2-0, 0-3, 1-2)

Former Severstal captain Dmitry Kagarlitsky had two goals and an assist to lead Dynamo to a sixth successive win and push the Muscovites to fifth in the Western Conference.

Kagarlitsky scored twice in the second period as the visitor overturned a two-goal deficit, then produced the assist on Daniil Tarasov’s late game-winner. Tarasov had earlier tied the game at 2-2 as Dynamo scored twice in 47 seconds at the start of the middle frame.

Earlier, Severstal jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening stanza on goals from Ilya Khokhlov and Bogdan Yakimov. Even after Kagarlitsky put Dynamo up, the host responded with another power play goal, this time from Vladislav Kodola, but ultimately missed out in the last two minutes.

First goal for Kudryavtsev

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 Spartak Moscow 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Yegor Korshkov returned to the Lokomotiv team for the first time since September 4 and he helped his team to victory over Spartak.

Photo: 28.12.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) - Spartak (Moscow)

Another eyebrow-raising selection for the host saw 21-year-old Pavel Kudryavtsev playing on the first line and it was the youngster who opened the scoring in the fourth minute with his first ever KHL goal. Spartak’s problems got worse when Alexander Osipov was sent to the locker room in the sixth minute following a high hit on Vladislav Kartayev. However, the Red-and-Whites responded in the second period and tied the game thanks to a power play goal from Alexander Khokhlachyov.

In the final session, Loko pulled away. Danil Yutaikin restored the home lead when he skated clear of two opponents to go one-on-one with Julius Hudacek. Alexander Yelesin sealed the win in the last minute with an empty net goal.

Jokerit edges past Sochi

HC Sochi 3 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (1-1, 1-1, 1-2)

Jokerit remains three points clear in the third place after a roller-coaster victory on the Black Sea coast.

Both sides looked capable of winning this game. Sochi led twice, with Stanislav Bocharov opening the scoring in the first period and Artyom Tomilin making it 2-1 midway through the second. In between, Brian O’Neill tied the scores.

However, once Niklas Jensen got it back to 2-2, Jokerit was able to step up. Jesse Joensuu gave the visitor the lead early in the third period. Sochi, shorthanded, replied and Bocharov’s second of the game made it 3-3, but only briefly: before the penalty was killed, John Norman popped up with the game-winner. For Jokerit, that’s three wins in four; Sochi’s two game winning run comes to an end.

Army Men put down champion’s comeback

CSKA Moscow 4 Ak Bars Kazan 2 (2-0, 1-1, 1-1)

CSKA defeated defending champion Ak Bars for the second time this season – but the visitor gave the Western Conference leader a scare after trailing 0-3.

Photo: 28.12.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. CSKA (Moscow) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

The Muscovites had won 5-0 when the teams met in Kazan back in November and it looked as if a repeat could be on the cards as the home team took control in the early stages. Maxim Shalunov opened the scoring in the third minute and Kirill Kaprizov doubled the advantage midway through the frame. So great was CSKA’s control that Ak Bars mustered just three shots at Ilya Sorokin in the first period.

The middle session was similar, with Kaprizov potting his second of the game as CSKA again built up a healthy lead on the shot count. This time, though, Ak Bars found a way to get on the scoreboard at last as Vyacheslav Osnovin made it 1-3. Then came a power play goal from Jiri Sekac in the 48th minute, bringing us a one-goal game. From a comfortable home win, this was transformed into a nervy conclusion. Ak Bars produced a fusillade on Sorokin’s net but fell short; Mikhail Grigorenko scored into an empty net to make the points safe for CSKA.

Back-to-back wins for Slovan

Slovan Bratislava 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Slovan recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since October 18 and dealt another blow to Neftekhimik’s playoff hopes.

The visitor arrived with hopes of drawing level with ninth-placed Kunlun Red Star on 37 points but missed the chance to close in on the top eight in the Eastern Conference and drops to 11th behind a resurgent Sibir. That was due to third-period goals from Jeff Taffe and Patrik Lamper. Coincidentally, earlier in the season Taffe had scored the game-winner when Slovan won 3-2 in Nizhnekamsk.

Earlier in the game, Adam Janosik gave Slovan an 11th-minute lead, only for Pavel Padakin to tie the scores in the second period.

Penalty shot woe for Dinamo

Dinamo Riga 2 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 SO (0-0, 0-1, 2-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Dinamo was left ruing its luck with penalty shots after going down to Torpedo. Not only did the home team miss out in a shoot-out after the teams shared four goals in regulation, the Latvians missed a penalty shot during the game when Linus Videll was denied by Barry Brust on his Torpedo debut.

Torpedo looked to make the most of that reprieve and opened a 2-0 lead with goals from Andy Miele late in the second period and Vladimir Galuzin early in the third. But Riga rallied, scoring twice in five minutes as the game drew to an end and forcing overtime. Kristaps Zile got the home team on the scoreboard in the 55th minute before Martins Dzierkals tied the scores with 90 seconds left to play. Both teams had their chances in overtime but neither could force a winner.

In the shoot-out, Videll missed again as Dinamo failed to score on Brust. Miele was the only player to convert his attempt and that secured the extra point for the visitor.

Magnitka loses in Spengler Cup

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 0 KalPa 1 OT (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

After a shoot-out win over Trinec to start its Spengler Cup campaign, Metallurg suffered an overtime loss against Finnish outfit KalPa in game two. Tommi Jokinen got the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute, former Vityaz and Kunlun forward Jaakko Risanen contributed an assist.

The result means that KalPa will top the three-team group. Metallurg comes second and will likely play Canada in its semi-final. The Canadians need a point from Friday’s late game against the Ice Tigers of Germany to top their group ahead of host team HC Davos.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
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CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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