Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The race for eighth place in the East brought out the best in two teams on Saturday. Shane Prince grabbed the only goal of the game as Sibir shocked SKA, while Vitaly Kravtsov scored his first in almost two months to help Traktor down Metallurg. Barys climbed to second in the Eastern Conference with an 8-2 win over Jokerit while CSKA secured a record-breaking 18th shut-out of the season to beat Severstal. Dinamo Riga missed the chance to draw level with HC Sochi in the Western playoff race, losing 1-3 at Dinamo Minsk.

Early Prince goal snaps SKA’s winning run

Sibir Novosibirsk 1 SKA St. Petersburg 0 (1-0, 0-0, 0-0)

Sibir grabbed a vital victory over high-flying SKA to keep its playoff push alive in the Eastern Conference. The win puts Sibir on to 51 points, four behind eighth-placed Traktor. SKA saw its six-game streak come to an end.

Shane Prince got the vital goal in the fifth minute. Young defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov lost the puck in his own zone and Sibir quickly found Prince on the slot to score with a one timer. That was the forward’s seventh point in eight games – an important part of Sibir’s continued presence in the playoff picture.

SKA thought it had found a tying goal late in the game when Vladislav Gavrikov put the puck in the home net. However, a coach’s challenge claimed that goalie Alexei Krasikov was impeded by Nail Yakupov and the video review upheld that complaint. Krasikov ended with 34 saves – 21 in the third period alone – and secured the shut-out as Sibir collected two precious points in its playoff push.

Barys bashes Jokerit

Barys Astana 8 Jokerit Helsinki 2 (1-1, 2-1, 5-0)

Barys went goal crazy in the third period here to embarrass a Jokerit team that still has hopes of taking third place in the West.

However, there was little sign of the emphatic scoreline to come when the visitor went in front after eight minutes through Sakari Manninen. Barys tied it up before the intermission and went ahead early in the second thanks to a Brandon Bochenski power play goal, but the game remained tight. Peter Regin made it 2-2 late in the frame before Andre Petersson restored the home advantage in the 38th minute.

Then everything changed. Even though the scoreline was close and the teams had spent similar amounts of time on offense, Barys had always been more willing to fire in the shots. And that policy paid off with three goals in four minutes at the start of the final frame. Roman Starchenko, Nikita Mikhailis and a second from Petersson saw Janis Kalnins chased from the net. Incoming Ryan Zapolski was beaten 90 seconds later by Yegor Petukhov; Matthew Frattin completed the rout with 10 minutes to play.

No playoff for Amur

Salavat Yulaev 3 Amur Khabarovsk 1 (1-1, 0-0, 2-0)

Amur’s chances of reaching the playoffs officially ended after this loss in Ufa. Only a win would do for the visitor, but a third-period surge from the host put paid to that.

Amur did get off to a perfect start, though. Danil Faizullin’s bold move off the boards put his team 1-0 up in the second minute. However, close to the intermission, Maxim Mayorov’s perceptive pass picked out the unmarked Vladimir Zharkov for the tying goal.

After a goalless middle frame, Salavat Yulaev settled matters in the third. Zharkov’s line added two more goals – a pair of helpers for Zharkov himself and markers for Dmitry Kugryshev and Alexander Kadeikin. The home team ended a two-game losing streak.

Dawes settles a marathon shoot-out

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 1 SO (1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

This game was decided by an epic shoot-out. The teams traded 20 attempts after completing 65 minutes of play without producing a winner. Finally, Nigel Dawes delivered the points to the Eastern Conference leader when his third attempt of the marathon sequence brought a second success for the free-scoring forward and ended the visitor’s resistance.

Dawes also struck in regulation, putting Avtomobilist in front in the 11th minute. However, Vityaz is scrapping for every possible point as it looks to secure its place in the playoffs, and fought hard here. Alexander Yevseyenkov tied the game on 33:33 and that ultimately moved his team up to 60 points for the season and established a six-point cushion over Dinamo Riga in ninth place.

That point for Vityaz owed much to goalie Joni Ortio. Not content with claiming the game-winning goal during the week, today he produced 16 saves in the third period and five more in overtime to frustrate the home offense. But in the end, Dawes found the answer in that shoot-out.

CSKA sets another record

Severstal Cherepovets 0 CSKA Moscow 4 (0-1, 0-2, 0-1)

CSKA’s 18th shut-out of the season set a new KHL record, while this home defeat ended Severstal’s mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.

The league leader was rarely challenged in this game; in the early stages the officials provided stiffer opposition as two CSKA goals were ruled out. In the 18th minute, though, Alexei Marchenko found a legitimate way past Dominik Furch and the Army Men were in front.

The middle frame saw the visitor’s domination increase and goals from Sergei Kalinin and Sergei Tolchinsky extended the CSKA lead. Anton Slepyshev had the final word, while Sorokin dealt with 12 shots to secure that record-breaking shut-out.

Kravtsov back on target, Traktor keeps ahead of the pack

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 (2-0, 1-1, 0-0)

Vitaly Kravtsov shot to fame with his performances in last season’s playoffs – and his first goal since December 4 went a long way towards putting Traktor into this year’s post season.

Traktor would have been aware of Sibir’s unexpected win against SKA, which finished during the early stages of this game. And, armed with the knowledge that their lead could be reduced to just two points, the players responded by winning this local derby. Alexander Bergstrom opened the scoring with a power play effort after five minutes. For the injury-hit Swede, that was a first goal since October 16. The came Kravtsov’s game-winner, his first in the KHL since helping Russia to World Junior bronze last month.

In the second period, the teams traded goals. Sergei Mozyakin pulled one back for Magnitka before Alexander Sharov restored Traktor’s two-goal advantage. There was no further scoring in the third.

Dynamo blanked in Balashikha

Dynamo Moscow 0 Admiral Vladivostok 3 (0-0, 0-2, 0-1)

Dynamo Moscow moved to its third arena of the season – the new Dynamo Arena in Moscow was unavailable for this game – and suffered a bout of homesickness in Balashikha. Anton Krasotkin recorded his first shut-out in the KHL to send the Blue-and-Whites spinning to defeat.

Photo: 02.02.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Dynamo (Moscow) - Admiral (Vladivostok)

The first period saw the home team in the ascendancy but unable to beat Krasotkin. The second saw Alexander Streltsov put the Sailors in front before Sergei Konkov scored a beauty on Alexander Yeryomenko to put his former club 2-0 down. Ivan Mishchenko added a third at the start of the final stanza and 21-year-old Krasotkin finished with 40 saves. Admiral’s second successive victory maintains its theoretical chance of a playoff place.

Costly loss for Riga

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

Dinamo Riga missed a chance to push into the top eight in the Western Conference after losing out in this Dinamo derby in Minsk.

Victory would have put the Latvians level on points with HC Sochi and ensured an even tighter battle for the last playoff place. When Brandon McMillan’s power play goal put the visitor ahead early in the second period, things looked good for Riga.

However, Minsk’s defenseman Patrick Wiercioch had other ideas. He got the tying goal late in the second period and potted another late in the game. In between, Teemu Pulkkinen got the go-ahead goal for the Belarusians to condemn Riga to defeat.

Spartak’s comeback falls just short

Spartak Moscow 3 Ak Bars Kazan 5 (0-1, 0-1, 3-3)

Spartak came close to pulling off an unlikely fightback but the defending champion had just enough to win an entertaining game in Moscow.

Photo: 02.02.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Spartak (Moscow) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

For much of the game, it was all about Ak Bars. Paul Postma put the visitor ahead in the first period, Artyom Lukoyanov doubled the advantage in the middle frame, then goals from Stanislav Galiyev and Jiri Sekac early in the third seemed to have ended the contest.

Spartak had other ideas. Alexander Khokhlachyov pulled one back in the 54th minute. Just a consolation effort? Not necessarily. Kaspars Daugavins and Anatoly Nikontsev scored two in a minute and suddenly the game was back in the balance. It took an empty net goal from Andrei Pedan to subdue the Red-and-Whites at last.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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