Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Salavat Yulaev became the latest team to guarantee its place in this year’s playoffs when it snatched a 2-1 victory at Kunlun Red Star. The Chinese team is now battling for one of two remaining playoff spots in the East. Eighth-placed Traktor suffered a 0-2 loss at Metallurg, going behind to a freakish goal late in the first period, while 10th placed Sibir was also defeated. In the West, Lokomotiv ran riot at home to Slovan; the 7-0 scoreline was its biggest win of the season. SKA needed a shoot-out to beat Barys and Riga defeated Minsk in the battle of the Dinamos.

Butuzov double leads Admiral to win

Admiral Vladivostok 4 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (2-1, 2-0, 0-1)

Admiral brought Sibir’s winning run to an end, putting a hole in the Siberians’ hopes of sneaking into the playoff reckoning.

Sibir took the lead in this one through Jukka Peltola but gave up two first-period goals to fall behind. Vladimir Butuzov tied the scores in the 13th minute and there was controversy a couple of minutes later when Vojtech Polak forced the puck past Alexei Krasikov in a scramble in front of the net. The officials reviewed the play on their own initiative and awarded the goal, then the Sibir bench demanded a second review; both checks produced the same verdict – Admiral led 2-1.

A sense of Siberian injustice was not helped when Admiral withstood a storm of pressure early in the middle session then extended its lead. Kirill Dyakov made it 3-1, Butuzov potted his second of the day and the game was as good as won. Nikolai Demidov got a late consolation for Sibir but the points stayed on the Pacific coast.

Avangard eases past Amur

Amur Khabarovsk 0 Avangard Omsk 3 (0-2, 0-1, 0-0)

Amur slipped to a 10th consecutive loss as Avangard stays on top of the Chernyshev Division following a shut-out success in Khabarovsk.

Photo: 24.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Amur (Khabarovsk) - Avangard (Omsk)

Following a 1-4 loss at Admiral on Tuesday, the Hawks bounced back with a solid performance. The visitor took a firm grip on the game in the first period, scoring two goals through Ilya Mikheyev and Maxim Chudinov. Home fans will point to a disallowed goal sandwiched between those legitimate strikes; Alexander Kuznetsov’s effort was whistled off for use of the hand and Amur lost the chance to tie the scores.

Avangard continued to dominate in the middle frame, but could only add one further score when Evgeny Medvedev’s point shot converted a power play. After that, there were few alarms in the closing session. Ivan Nalimov finished with 30 saves.

Salavat Yulaev confirms its playoff place

Kunlun Red Star 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-1)

Salavat Yulaev guaranteed a place in this year’s playoffs after defeating Red Star for the fourth time this season. The result, which hinged on a late goal, leaves Curt Fraser still seeking his first victory as head coach of Kunlun.

The home team had suffered a shoot-out loss against this opponent on Tuesday and began with some high-intensity hockey in a bid to set the record straight. Red Star thought it had taken the lead in the ninth minute when Olli Palola forced home the rebound from a Patrik Lundh shot. However, a coach’s challenge from the Ufa bench found the Sam Lofquist had strayed offside in the build-up. Almost immediately Salavat Yulaev scored at the other end through Maxim Mayorov.

Red Star was able to tie the game early in the middle session through Ondrej Vitasek, with fit-again Veli-Matti Savinainen getting an assist for his first point since picking up an injury in mid-December. The home team continued to press, with Juha Metsola in fine form in the Ufa net, but the only goal of the third period came on a rare Salavat Yulaev breakaway. Linus Omark got the winner and not even a late Kunlun power play could salvage anything from the encounter. Metsola finished with 37 saves to preserve his team’s slender advantage.

Zagidullin halts Traktor

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 0 (1-0, 1-0, 0-0)

The latest edition of the South Ural derby went to Metallurg after the home side shrugged off its 1-3 loss to Barys last time out.

Photo: 24.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Artyom Zagidulin’s third shut-out of the season saw Magnitka safely to victory, while a freakish goal credited to Alexei Bereglazov gave the home team the all-important breakthrough late in the first period. There seemed to be little danger when Bereglazov battled for possession out on the boards but visiting goalie Alexander Sudnitsin opted to come out of his net to collect the puck and try to pass it up the ice. A miscue saw the puck bounce off Evgeny Ryasensky and ricochet into the Traktor net.

The second goal of the game was more authentic. Metallurg’s 18-year-old forward Pavel Dorofeyev got his first ever marker in the KHL when he converted a Dennis Rasmussen feed from behind the net in the 36th minute. That came soon after a couple of fine saves from Zagidulin denied Semyon Kokuyov and Christian Thomas; the effect was to shatter Traktor’s hopes of getting back into the game.

Loko steamrollers Bratislava

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 7 Slovan Bratislava 0 (1-0, 3-0, 3-0)

Lokomotiv inflicted a crushing defeat on Slovan to make it five wins in a row and open up a five-point gap over Jokerit in the race for third place in the Western Conference. The 7-0 scoreline was the Railwaymen’s biggest win of the season and stretched Slovan’s losing streak to nine games.

The first period saw Nikolai Kovalenko open the scoring with a power play goal as Loko made a strong start. The 19-year-old got his fifth of the season and collected his first point since Nov. 30. But the scoring really started in the middle frame as the host fired three goals without reply. Danil Yurtaikin pounced on a defensive error to double the lead midway through the session before Rushan Rafikov and Stepan Sannikov added two quick goals before the intermission.

Yegor Korshkov made it 5-0 early in the third before a 5-on-3 power play saw Alexander Yelesin find the net and Yurtaikin get his second of the night to complete Slovan’s misery. Ilya Konovalov recorded his ninth shut-out of a hugely impressive season.

SKA keeps up its winning streak over Barys

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Barys Astana 2 SO (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Barys came to Petersburg with a historically poor record in the Northern capital: the Kazakh team’s last nine visits to the banks of the Neva had ended in defeat. This time SKA won once again, although it needed a shoot-out to separate two teams gunning for the top of their respective conferences.

SKA struck first. Nikita Gusev’s rush down the left ended with a dish into the center for Anton Belov to smash home a one-timer. But Barys, this season, is a formidable proposition and refused to yield. Early in the second period Jesse Blacker finished off Anton Sagadeyev’s swift counter attack to tie the scores and the defenseman’s shot in the third period produced a go-ahead goal for the visitor when Brandon Bochenski got a stick on it to turn the rebound inside Magnus Hellberg’s post.

The host hit back to tie the game late on. Gusev was involved again as Vladislav Gavrikov made it 2-2 with four minutes to play. And SKA had the better of the overtime period without forcing a winning goal. In the shoot-out, the home team finally prevailed. Nikolai Prokhorkin got the decisive goal to keep the Army Men hard on the heels of CSKA at the top of the KHL table.

Riga reignites playoff hopes

Dinamo Riga 3 Dinamo Minsk 2 SO (0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Dinamo Riga moved to within a point of the playoff places after recording back-to-back wins for the first time since November 15 – but had to survive a late scare when Dinamo Minsk tied this game with three seconds left on the clock.

Alexei Tereshchenko made it 2-2 with that late, late play, forcing the game into overtime. Then the Belarusians killed a penalty in the extras to take the game to a shoot-out and leave many home fans wondering if the fates were against their team this evening. In the end, though, shoot-out goals from Mikelis Redlihs and Mathew Maione were enough to give Riga the verdict.

It had seemed that a Lauris Darzins goal midway through the third period would be decisive. The forward, a two-goal hero in Tuesday’s hard-fought victory over Slovan, started the scoring play by battling to keep the puck in the Minsk end. Then, after Maione and Redlihs brought the puck behind the visitor’s net, Darzins returned to fire home a one-timer that put Riga up for the first time in the game.

Earlier, Minsk grabbed an early lead when David Booth opened the scoring after 74 seconds. But the Latvians levelled the game in the second period thanks to a Brandon McMillan goal.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

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Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
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Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Slovan (Bratislava) Slovan (Bratislava)
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