Andy Potts Andy Potts
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A Dan Sexton shoot-out winner gave Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist the verdict at defending champion Ak Bars in the day’s big game. It was also a big day for Niklas Jensen: Jokerit’s great Dane scored the winner at Ufa to extend his productive streak to 12 games. SKA went back to the top of the table with victory at Metallurg, playoff chasing Sochi grabbed a vital win at Neftekhimik and Sibir kept its post-season dream alive with an overtime success against Barys.

Danny Taylor’s game-winning save

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Barys Astana 1 OT (0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

Sibir goalie Danny Taylor made a crucial intervention in overtime to secure the points for his team. He pulled off a game-saving stop and, in the process, sent the puck to Gilbert Brule. The Canadian forward set off for goal and duly beat Henrik Karlsson at the other end to give the home team victory and move Sibir to within five points of a playoff place.

Photo: 29.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Barys (Astana)

Earlier, the two goalies kept the scoresheet blank until the 33rd minute when Jordan Caron finally broke the deadlock, redirecting a Shane Prince shot into the net. That might have been enough to win it, but Taylor was beaten in the 55th minute when Maxim Semyonov potted a rare goal: the Barys defenseman last scored back in December 2015.

By taking the game to overtime, Barys moves level on points with Avangard at the top of the Chernyshev Division; Sibir returns to ninth place ahead of Red Star.

Jensen stretches productive streak to 12 games

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (0-1, 1-1, 0-2)

Niklas Jensen got among the points for the 12th game in a row when he scored for Jokerit in its 4-1 win at Salavat Yulaev.

The Dane potted the game-winner in the second period, converting a Sakari Manninen pass from behind the net to snap a 1-1 tie. Earlier, Manninen gave the visitor a first-period lead before Joonas Kemppainen tied it up in the middle session when he reacted fastest to a puck bouncing off the piping.

In the third period, Salavat Yulaev tried hard to find a tying goal but was denied by … And Jokerit sealed the win with goals from Alex Grant midway through the frame and Marko Anttila in the closing minutes.

SKA back on top

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 SKA St. Petersburg 3 (0-0, 1-0, 0-3)

SKA won its fifth game in a row, producing a strong finish to defeat Magnitka and overtake CSKA in the race for top spot.

Photo: 29.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

These two rivals circled each other for some time before landing a telling blow. It wasn’t until the 35th minute that Roman Lyubimov got the better of David Rundblad and gave the home team the lead. However, SKA responded in the third period with a fine goal from Alexei Byvaltsev to mark his 200th KHL game. Byvaltsev collected the puck in his own half of the ice, advanced down the flank and carved a swathe through a startled home defense to tie the game.

The winner came in the 50th minute when Nikita Gusev’s defense-splitting pass set up Nail Yakupov. Gusev’s productive streak now covers five games, matching his team’s winning run. An empty net goal from Sergei Plotnikov wrapped up the win.

Sochi edges to vital win

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 HC Sochi 1 (0-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Sochi gave its playoff prospects a massive boost, opening a three-point gap over Dinamo Riga in a tight battle in the Western Conference.

This was a nervy game against a home team also trying to keep its slim post-season hopes alive, but a Damir Rakhimullin goal early in the second period was enough to give Sochi the verdict. However, Konstantin Barulin’s 33 saves also played a huge part in securing the points.

Leader defeats defending champion

Ak Bars Kazan 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 SO (1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Is there a change in the balance of power in the East? Avtomobilist looks to be on course to top the Eastern Conference for the first time and this win at defending champion Ak Bars proved that there’s more to this team than an expensively-assembled offense.

Photo: 29.01.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

True, it was one of the big summer signings, Dan Sexton, whose shoot-out goal ultimately settled the outcome. But this was a performance that also spoke much of the visitor’s defensive capabilities and its ability to grind out results in unpromising circumstances.

Avtomobilist had a big boost before the game when it became clear that goalie Jakub Kovar had fully recovered from the injury he sustained last time out at Metallurg. His importance was clear in a low-scoring game in which both he and opponent Vladislav Podyapolsky made 24 saves in 65 minutes of play.

Both goalies were beaten just once. Anatoly Golyshev gave Avtomobilist the lead in the 17th minute, converting the first power play of the game. Almost immediately, the visitor was penalized and Rob Klinkhammer punished Nikita Tryamkin’s indiscretion when he tied the scores three seconds before the interval. Subsequent penalty kills were better for both teams, with Avto even surviving a long period of 3-on-5 defense midway through the game. The shoot-out, when it came, saw the teams trade four goals in the first 10 attempts before Kovar bolted the doors in sudden death and Sexton delivered the knock-out blow.

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Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
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