There was good news and bad news in Yekaterinburg where Avtomobilist suffered its worst loss of the season but still confirmed its playoff place thanks to Kunlun’s failure to gain a point in Ufa. CSKA suffered a narrow defeat at Lokomotiv, which collected a second successive 1-0 verdict. Dinamo Riga lost in overtime at Severstal while Jokerit suffered a 2-3 reverse at home to Dynamo Moscow. A Quinton Howden hat-trick in Minsk saw off Slovan.
Avtomobilist suffered its heaviest defeat of the season – but still became the first club in the Eastern Conference to guarantee its playoff place. Despite going down 0-6 at home to SKA, the defeat for ninth-placed Kunlun Red Star in Ufa ensures that the home team can finish no lower than eighth in the table.
That was the only bit of good news on a difficult evening for the high-flying Yekaterinburg club. SKA went ahead in the fourth minute thanks to Sergei Plotnikov and, apart from a good chance for Dan Sexton that Igor Shestyorkin snuffed out a couple of minutes later, that lead was never threatened. Andrei Kuzmenko doubled the lead in the first period and Nikita Gusev added a third early in the middle frame.
When Nail Yakupov made it 4-0 at the beginning of the third, Avto withdrew starting goalie Jakub Kovar and sent Andrei Makarov into battle for his first appearance since Nov. 24. It took less than a minute for him to allow a goal, with Evgeny Ketov getting his first of the season. Artyom Zemchyonok completed the rout in the 51st minute.
Salavat Yulaev kept up its high-scoring home form to win an entertaining game against Red Star. When the teams met on December 28, the host won 5-0 amid a procession of penalties; today Salavat scored even more and kept the rough stuff to a minimum.
The key moment came late in the second period with the scores tied at 3-3. Teemu Hartikainen put the puck in the net, the Red Star bench appealed for offside and the video review went in favor of the home team. Kunlun took a delaying the game penalty for its unsuccessful appeal and allowed a power play goal Anton Burdasov. That 5-3 lead proved insurmountable. Hartikainen added a second to his tally, Pyotr Khokhryakov also scored two for Ufa.
The final score was especially harsh on Kunlun’s Sam Lofquist. The defenseman had a hand in all four goals, scoring two and assisting on two more. Chris Seto, a 21-year-old prospective Chinese international, got his first KHL goal.
In-form Barys kept up the pressure at the top of the Chernyshev Division with a victory over Amur.
The teams traded goals at the end of an even first period through Brandon Bochenski and Tomas Zohorna. In the second period, the home team went in front again thanks to a power play goal from Patrice Cormier, who got among the points for the fifth time in six games.
Kirill Rasskazov tied it up in the 49th minute, with Zohorna among the assists, but the last 10 minutes brought goals from Yegor Petukhov and Dustin Boyd to seal the home victory. Petukhov’s marker was the 24-year-old’s first in the KHL.
There’s not much sign of festive excess in Yaroslavl as the New Year gets underway. For the second game in a row, Lokomotiv won with a slimline 1-0 verdict.
However, the games themselves were very different. Today’s encounter with top-of-the-table CSKA was a goaltending masterclass from Ilya Konovalov. The youngster made 32 saves to deny the Army Men’s powerful offense, while also benefiting from a video review and seeing a shot ding off the piping midway through the third period.
The video incident came midway through the game when Andrei Svetlakov had the puck in the home net only to be ruled out for use of the hand. Within a couple of minutes, Lokomotiv was in front in unlikely circumstances. A rare failure of the CSKA power play produced a catastrophic error. Stepan Sannikov pounced on the chance and streaked through to beat Ilya Sorokin. And, with Konovalov in top form, that was enough to win the game.
A last-minute goal cost Dinamo the chance to draw level with eighth-placed Vityaz in its bid to make the playoffs.
The Latvians, lifted by Sunday’s victory at Dynamo Moscow, took a 2-1 lead in the first period thanks to Lauris Darzins and Kristaps Zile. That lead endured until 59:42 when Dmitry Markovin snatched a dramatic late equalizer.
In overtime, the momentum stayed with the home team and Alexander Petunin potted the winner after three minutes of play. That was his first goal since joining Severstal from Dynamo Moscow in December, and only his second of the season.
Yegor Zaitsev’s first KHL goal helped Dynamo take the verdict at Jokerit in an entertaining game between two in-form Western Conference teams.
Jokerit got off to a flying start when Kristian Vesalainen opened the scoring in the second minute. His quick release off a Peter Regin feed from behind the net gave Alexander Yeryomenko no time to react in the visitor’s net.
However, Dynamo needed little recovery time. Ilya Nikulin potted a power play goal in the fifth minute to tie the game and the visitor stepped up the pressure thereafter. Dmitry Kagarlitsky saw his penalty shot saved by Janis Kalnins and the Latvian goalie made another big save to deny Daniil Tarasov soon afterwards. However, he was powerless to prevent blue liner Yegor Zaitsev from getting his first ever KHL goal to put the Blue-and-Whites in front. The youngster had tallied four assists in his previous 84 outings, epitomizing the term ‘stay-at-home defenseman’.
Quinton Howden’s hat-trick led Dinamo to victory over the Western Conference’s bottom club.
The game got off to an explosive start with Kyle Chipchura putting the visitor in front after 46 seconds, only for Andrei Kostitsyn to level after 63. Fans barely had time to take that in when Howden got his first of the night on 3:59 to give Minsk a 2-1 lead.
There was no further scoring in the first period and Slovan tied it up through Tomas Hrnka early in the second. But Howden responded with two more to complete his treble and open a 4-2 lead for Dinamo, despite heavy pressure on Jhonas Enroth’s net. Jeff Taffe’s power play goal six minutes from time gave Slovan hope of snatching something, but an empty net goal from Andrei Stepanov finally killed off the visitor’s resistance.