Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Dynamo Moscow opened the doors to its new arena for the first time – and closed the door on Avtomobilist in a 2-0 win. Defending champion Ak Bars enjoyed a 3-1 victory over Salavat Yulaev in the ‘Green Derby’, and there were hard-fought road wins for CSKA and SKA.

Demchenko’s fourth shut-out

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (0-0, 2-0, 1-0)

Clinical finishing made all the difference as Traktor took its chances and moved four points clear of the chasing pack in the playoff race. Amur spent more time on the attack and fired in more shots but could not beat Vasily Demchenko. At the other end, the home team found the way to goal.

The scoring started late in the second period when Christian Thomas burst through to the net and beat Alexei Murygin at the second attempt. The last moment of the session brought another home goal when Ryan Stoa’s powerful shot got past Murygin.

Amur made a lively start to the third, knowing that it had to get on the scoreboard quickly. Demchenko, though, was in no mood to give up his fourth shut-out of the season, while Semyon Kokuyov wrapped up the win with 10 minutes to play.

Zaripov orchestrates derby win

Ak Bars Kazan 3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 (2-0, 1-0, 0-1)

For the third time this season, Ak Bars won its ‘Green Derby’ encounter with Salavat Yulaev. The visitor, hampered by injuries and illness, got into trouble in the game and never recovered after allowing two goals in the first 10 minutes.

Photo: 04.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)

Stanislav Galiyev opened the scoring in the seventh minute after Danis Zaripov intercepted a loose pass from Maxim Mayorov and picked the perfect moment to release his colleague. That was Gailyev’s first goal since November 13. Exactly three minutes later, Zaripov was the architect once again as Jiri Sekac added a power play goal to put Ak Bars in complete control.

Ufa responded by replacing starting goalie Andrei Kareyev with Ivan Fedotov. The latter kept Ak Bars at bay until late in the second period when Justin Azevedo added a third. In the final frame, the visitor got one goal back through Artyom Sergeyev but could not find a way to close the gap any further.

Kozun’s late show sinks Dinamo

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Dinamo Riga 1 (0-0, 0-0, 2-1)

Dinamo Riga missed the chance to return to a playoff spot after Brandon Kozun’s last-minute goal gave Lokomotiv a come-from-behind win.

The home team, however, will feel that justice was done. The first period saw Lokomotiv well on top but unable to beat Timur Bilyalov. The second saw the puck in the Dinamo net, only for the officials to rule that it was kicked over the line by Yegor Korshkov.

The same dominance continued until the 46th minute when Dinamo grabbed a surprise lead. Lauris Darzins sent Linus Videll into the Loko zone and the Swede finished off the chance to rock the home crowd. The lead lasted barely two minutes, though, before Denis Alexeyev tied it up. Once again, there was a video review – this time checking for goalie interference – but to Lokomotiv’s relief the officials found no infringement. That set the scene for a big finish. The Railwaymen ended the game on the power play and Kozun was first to react to the rebound from the Jakub Nakladal shot to poach the winner with 19 seconds to play.

CSKA saved with two seconds left

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 CSKA Moscow 2 OT (0-0, 0-0, 1-1, 0-1)

Last month, Vityaz caused a sensation when it ended CSKA’s 18-game winning streak. Today it was two seconds away from repeating that shock triumph.

This game was something of a slow burner, at least in terms of goalscoring. The first period was full of endeavour, but light on clear chances. The second saw CSKA begin to take control of proceedings without getting a goal.

It all exploded into action late on. With seven to play, Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi gave Vityaz the lead. The clock ran down, CSKA withdrew goalie Lars Johansson and the home team was inches away from settling the outcome with an empty net goal. That attempt went wide and play came straight back up the ice for Mikhail Naumenkov to tie the scores with two seconds left on the clock. Deflated, the host struggled in overtime and was defeated by Jannik Hansen’s knock-out blow inside the first minute of the extras.

Severstal moves off the foot of the table

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Slovan Bratislava 0 (0-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Severstal went into this game rock bottom of the whole KHL – but victory here moves the Steelmen above their opponent.

Slovan came into the game with some grounds for optimism after winning two of its last three games in 2018. However, the Slovaks could not find a way past Dominik Furch, who made 33 saves to backstop Severstal to victory.

The goals both came on the power play: Yury Trubachyov opened the scoring late in the second period before Vladislav Kaloda sealed the deal midway through the third.

Dynamo delight as new arena opens with a win

Dynamo Moscow 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 (0-0, 2-0, 0-0)

Dynamo moved into its new arena and celebrated with a shut-out win against the Eastern Conference leader. The VTB Arena, part of the same complex as the Dynamo Moscow soccer stadium, represents something of a homecoming for the club. The venue has been built on Leningradsky Prospekt, where the Blue-and-Whites had their first rink back in the 1940s. Later, the team moved across town to Luzhniki before brief spells at the Park of Legends and Megasport before settling into a permanent home this week.

Photo: 04.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Dynamo (Moscow) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

The opening game attracted a capacity crowd of almost 11,000 and they saw Vladimir Krikunov’s team rise to the occasion. Dynamo withstood some early pressure from the visitor but safely navigated the first period and forged ahead in the second. The opening goal went to Vadim Shipachyov. Dynamo’s leading scorer brought up his 50th point of the season, while Aslan Raisov’s assist capped a successful KHL debut. The 28-year-old has been among the leaders in the VHL in recent seasons, prompting Dynamo to give him a chance. He’s also the first Chechen to play in the KHL.

The second goal was not long in coming; Juuso Hietanen fired home from the point to double the home advantage. Ivan Bocharov made 30 saves to frustrate the Avtomobilist offense and among his defensive colleagues was another debutant, Michal Cajkovsky, who began his Moscow career against his former KHL club.

SKA outlasts Dinamo

Dinamo Minsk 0 SKA St. Petersburg 2 (0-0, 0-0, 0-2)

SKA recorded its fourth straight win to keep up the pressure on top-of-the-table CSKA, but Ilya Vorobyov’s team had to work hard for victory in Minsk.

Dinamo was obdurate in defense but offered little going forward: over two periods the home team managed just eight shots on goal but kept SKA away from Jhonas Enroth’s net. However, any anxiety on behalf of the visitor was eased early in the third when Sergei Plotnikov finally broke the deadlock. The teams were playing four-on-four at the time and defenseman David Rundblad was tempted forward. He wrong-footed Patrick Wiercioch and sent the puck to the back door for Plotnikov to shoot home. A power play goal from Nikolai Prokhorkin made the game safe for the visitor.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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