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A change of scenery helped to inspire Dynamo to its first derby win over Spartak in six attempts. In Helsinki, Jokerit won 4-2 against Torpedo and is close to confirming its playoff place. Avtomobilist goalie Jakub Kovar made it back-to-back shut-outs in a 3-0 win at Neftekhimik, while Severstal blew a 3-0 lead to lose at Vityaz.

Avtomobilist confirms a top-four finish

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 (0-1, 0-1, 0-1)

Avtomobilist is guaranteed a home start in this year’s playoffs after today’s win secured a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference. Jakub Kovar’s eighth shut-out of the season backstopped the victory, with a goal in each period taking the game away from Neftekhimik.

The visitor was ahead inside five minutes when Stepan Khripunov set up Andrei Obidin for the opening goal. Anatoly Golyshev’s individual effort doubled the lead midway through the game and Khripunov picked up another assist late on when Evgeny Grachyov scored off the rebound from the 23-year-old’s shot.

For Kovar, this was a second successive shut-out. The Czech goalie made 23 saves and matched his 2014-15 record of eight blanks in one campaign. This time, though, his save percentage (94.4%) and GAA (1.66) are much better than any of his previous five KHL seasons.

Dynamo ends its Spartak ‘curse’

Dynamo Moscow 3 Spartak Moscow 1 (0-0, 1-0, 2-1)

The Blue-and-White half of Moscow finally had something to celebrate from a local derby after claiming victory in Spartak’s first visit to Dynamo’s new arena. Previously, Spartak had won the previous six KHL encounters between the teams; if pre-season match-ups were included, the sequence extended to 10 games.

Photo: 25.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Dynamo (Moscow) - Spartak (Moscow)

There wasn’t much to choose between the teams in the first period, although Julius Hudacek and his defensemen did well to keep Dynamo at bay when Yaroslav Dyblenko took a double minor for high sticks late in the frame. It wasn’t until the 36th minute that the home team got in front. Miks Indrasis was the scorer, converting a Vadim Shipachyov feed. A power play goal early in the third saw Igor Makarov double the home advantage and even a late goal from Artyom Fyodorov, scoring against his former club, could not cost Dynamo this time. Shipachyov’s empty netter was the last word as he collected two points to celebrate his recall to Russia’s roster for the upcoming Swedish Hockey Games.

The win moves Dynamo back into fifth place, level with Spartak on 61 points but with a game in hand.

Severstal blows a 3-0 lead

Vityaz Moscow Region 5 Severstal Cherepovets 3 (0-1, 1-2, 4-0)

Vityaz turned on the power in the third period to secure a valuable victory in its push for a playoff place.

Photo: 25.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

It looked as though Severstal was on its way to the win after Geoffrey Kinrade’s first-period opener was followed by two goals in a minute from Vladislav Kodola and Sergei Monakhov early in the middle frame.

But nobody told Borna Rendulic. The Croatian kick-started the fight back with two goals before Michal Repik tied the game in the 42ndminute. Repik followed that up with an assist as Alexander Semin put Vityaz ahead for the first time and Gennady Stolyarov added a power play goal to wrap up the win.

Vityaz is now four points clear of ninth-placed Dinamo Riga, Severstal is close to losing even a theoretical chance of making post-season.

Two points for Moses leads Jokerit to victory

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (2-1, 0-0, 2-1)

Jokerit is one win away from rubber-stamping its place in the playoffs after ending its three game home stand with a win over Torpedo. The visitor remains seventh in the East, but still enjoys an 11-point cushion over the chasing pack.

Torpedo has never won a regular season game in Finland but the visitor opened the scoring this time. Andy Miele claimed the first of the game in the sixth minute after the puck bounced off Ryan Zapolski’s skate. After that Jokerit piled up the pressure on Barry Brust’s net. Finally, Steve Moses stole the puck from Mikhail Orlov and set up Sakari Manninen for the tying goal. Ninety seconds later, Karl Stollery put the host ahead and it seemed that the floodgates might open.

The middle frame was one-way traffic towards the Torpedo net but Brust kept his team in contention and the score at 2-1. Moses eventually added a third in the 46th minute and John Norman’s power play goal put the result beyond doubt. Mikhail Varnakov added a late consolation for Torpedo.

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Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
HC Dynamo (Moscow) HC Dynamo (Moscow)
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