Andy Potts Andy Potts
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CSKA is the regular season champion for the fourth time in five seasons. A shoot-out win over Lokomotiv took the Muscovites out of SKA’s reach despite its rivals 4-0 win at Neftekhimik. In the playoff race in the West, it’s as you were: Sochi, Vityaz and Dinamo Riga all won; two from three will book their places on Friday as the regular season comes to an end. In the East, the playoff places are filled. Sibir’s loss against Avtomobilist ensures that Traktor will be the eighth team to go to postseason. The Chelyabinsk team will face Avto, while Torpedo ensured seventh place and a match-up with Barys by defeating Traktor 2-0 later in the day. In Helsinki, meanwhile, Oliver Lauridsen scored a memorable marker from his own goalline as Jokerit thrashed Slovan 7-1.

Langhamer denies Barys

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Barys Astana 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Barys slipped to a third successive loss as Amur ensured it could still avoid finishing bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Czech goalie Marek Langhamer made the difference here, with 25 stops to keep Barys at bay. That was his third shut-out of the season and makes it seven wins in a row for the mid-season arrival.

At the other end, Pavel Dedunov put Amur in front in the first period but it wasn’t until Michal Jordan scored an empty net goal in the 59th minute that the home team made the points safe. Amur goes into Friday’s final round of games still bottom of the Conference, but level on points with Admiral and one behind Kunlun. Barys is assured of second in table and will face Torpedo in the first round of the playoffs.

Record for Yip, debut goal for Ying

Kunlun Red Star 6 Admiral Vladivostok 3 (1-1, 2-1, 3-1)

Red Star returned to Beijing for the first time this season and settled in quickly with a high-scoring win over Admiral. The game was notable for the home team naming nine Chinese-eligible players on its roster. Two of them produced landmark moments along the way.

The first big moment came for Brandon Yip. Red Star’s captain got his 21st goal of the season in the second period, opening a 3-1 lead and setting a franchise record for goals in one campaign. Next, it was Rudi Ying’s turn. The Beijing-born 20-year-old was recalled for his first KHL outing in almost two years and he took his chance to become the first ever Chinese-born scorer in KHL history. His effort made it 4-2, and proved to be the game winner.

A happy evening for the host also saw two goals for Olli Palola, 1+1 from Wojtek Wolski and a fifth goal of the season for Drew Shore. Admiral replied through Stepan Zakharchuk, Alexander Konnov and Kirill Voronin.

Sexton ends Sibir’s playoff hopes

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4 (1-1, 1-1, 1-2)

Sibir went into this game knowing that only a win would keep the pressure on eighth-placed Traktor and maintain the team’s hopes of snatching a playoff place in the final days of the regular season. However, Avtomobilist was out to celebrate its status as Eastern Conference winner and duly ended the Siberians’ prospects.

The game was always evenly contested. Sibir could dare to dream for a time, after two Viktor Komarov goals cancelled out an opener from Dan Sexton and put the home team up midway through the second period. But once Alexander Kucheryavenko tied it up with four minutes to play in the middle frame, there was no way for Sibir to regain the lead.

Instead a power play goal from Alexei Vasilevsky restored Avtomobilist’s advantage seven minutes into the third period. Nikolai Demidov tied it a 3-3, but Sexton got his second of the game just 19 seconds later and that was enough to win it for the visitor. Avtomobilist is now set to face Traktor in the first round of playoff action.

Salavat finishes with ‘Green Derby’ win

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Ak Bars Kazan 2 OT (0-0, 1-1, 1-1, 1-0)

A Philip Larsen goal 37 seconds into overtime saw Salavat Yulaev complete its regular season program with victory against old rival Ak Bars.

Photo: 20.02.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

The game was a potential playoff dress rehearsal with the home team sure to finish sixth and the visitor battling with Avangard and Metallurg to take third. As such, it was a cagey affair. Neither side was willing to commit too much to the offense in the first period and it took a Larsen goal early in the second to open up the play a bit.

Ak Bars took its time to respond after going behind. However, a power play goal late in the middle frame from Danis Zaripov tied the scores before Vladimir Tkachyov put the visitor up early in the third, again on the PP. The host began to dominate possession but it wasn’t until the 59th minute that Teemu Hartikainen managed to tie it up at 2-2 and pave the way for Larsen’s winner.

Sabolic double sees off Traktor

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

News from elsewhere robbed this game of much of its intensity, with Traktor learning that it was guaranteed a playoff spot following Sibir’s loss at home to Avtomobilist. The two teams were still competing for seventh place and a first-round match-up with Barys rather than Avto, but that was a minor consideration compared with securing a coveted ticket to postseason.

In the event, Torpedo secured that seventh spot and will be travelling to Kazakhstan next week. Two goals from Robert Sabolic made the difference. The Slovenian international opened the scoring in the third minute and made it 2-0 early in the third. Both goals were assisted by Anton Shenfeld. Young Torpedo goalie Andrei Tikhomirov secured his first KHL shut-out after making 20 saves.

SKA misses out despite victory

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 SKA St. Petersburg 4 (0-1, 0-2, 0-1)

SKA did everything it could to keep up the pressure on CSKA in the race to claim the regular season title. Ilya Vorobyov’s team swept aside Neftekhimik only to discover that CSKA’s late recovery against Lokomotiv would deny them the prize.

The home team, already out of playoff contention, kept the visitor at bay until late in the first period. However, Patrik Hersley got the opener on the power play 25 seconds before the intermission to give SKA a lead it would never relinquish. Andrei Kuzmenko and Jarno Koskiranta extended that advantage in the second period before Nikita Gusev added to his first-period assist with a goal early in the third.

Gusev now has 79 (16+63) points for the season and is way out in front in the scoring race. Today he helped SKA make it five wins in a row; Neftekhimik went down to a second successive 0-4 loss at home.

Riga outlasts Severstal to stay in the playoff race

Severstal Cherepovets 4 Dinamo Riga 5 OT (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 0-1)

Dinamo got the win it needed to have any chance of staying in the playoff race – but it was a nervous finish after Severstal clawed back from 2-4 to force overtime.

In the event, Linus Videll provided the gamewinner just 34 seconds into the extras, but the visitor will feel it could have wrapped this up inside 60 minutes. Two goals from Lauris Darzins helped Dinamo to a 4-2 advantage by the 42nd minute; Andris Dzerins and Rihards Marenis were the other scorers in regulation.

Severstal, though, never gave up. Ivan Lekomtsev closed the gap midway through the third period before Bogdan Yakimov made it 4-4 with three minutes to play. Riga weathered that storm, though, and the Maione-Videll combination that has been so productive for the Latvians this season delivered once again when the team needed it. Dinamo goes on to face CSKA on Friday needing a win and hoping that Vityaz or Sochi slip up.

CSKA’s late show clinches the regular season title

CSKA Moscow 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 SO (0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

There were just 11 seconds left in this game when Anton Slepyshev delivered a dramatic tying goal to deny Lokomotiv victory and force the action into overtime. The groans from Yaroslavl, though, might have been drowned out by the angst in St. Petersburg: had Loko held on, SKA would have gone into Friday’s games hoping to steal the regular season title from its Army rival.

Photo: 20.02.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. CSKA (Moscow) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Instead, though, CSKA could celebrate topping the table for the fourth time in five seasons after Mikhail Grigorenko secured a shoot-out victory. That too saw CSKA fight back. Down 1-3, Slepyshev and Grigorenko hauled the team level as Ilya Sorokin denied Brandon Kozun and Staffan Kronwall. The Muscovites remain three points clear of SKA with just one game left; Friday’s only intrigue will now be learning the identity of its first playoff opponent.

Lokomotiv, already secure in third place and set to play Spartak in postseason, made a flying start when Kozun opened the scoring in the first minute. Subsequently, Alexander Salak kept the opposition at bay with 24 saves in regulation. However, the 25th shot got past him to transform the outcome of the game.

Sochi closes on a playoff place

HC Sochi 2 Spartak Moscow 0 (1-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Sochi has one foot in the playoffs after blanking Spartak to record its fourth straight victory and remain in seventh place. The team from the Black Sea is certain of making postseason if it picks up a point from its final game against basement club Slovan; even defeat would not necessarily spell the end if Avtomobilist or CSKA can beat Vityaz or Dinamo Riga respectively.

Home goalie Konstantin Barulin drew on all his experience to backstop this win. He made 32 stops for his shut-out as Spartak slipped to a sixth loss in seven games. The Red-and-Whites are destined to finish sixth, and will travel to Lokomotiv at the start of the playoffs.

Sochi’s scoring came from Eric O’Dell, who converted a penalty shot in the sixth minute after he was fouled by Alexander Osipov. That was only difference between the teams until early in the third when Martin Bakos struck on the power play to assure Sochi of the points.

Vityaz holds on to stay in the playoff frame

Vityaz Moscow Region 4 Dinamo Minsk 3 (2-1, 1-0, 1-2)

Vityaz also needed a win to remain in the playoff places but it had to dig deep to overcome a battling Dinamo Minsk team.

The early stages could hardly have been better for the home team, with Alexei Makeyev and Michal Repik opening a 2-0 lead inside four minutes. However, the visitor struck back, somewhat against the run of play, through Teemu Pulkkinen and it was a one-goal game at the first intermission.

Gennady Stolyarov’s power play goal in the 24th minute was the only scoring of the middle frame but Dinamo showed far more offensive intent. That was turned into goals at the start of the third when Evgeny Lisovets scored on the power play before Pulkkinen tied it up with his second of the game. Vityaz had to regain its composure and stifle a resurgent Belarusian team; a Miro Aaltonen power play goal soothed home nerves and ultimately proved sufficient to secure a vital victory. One more success against Avtomobilist on Friday will take the Moscow Region team to the playoffs.

Magnitka edges Dynamo, climbs to third

Dynamo Moscow 1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 (0-1, 1-1, 0-0)

Metallurg is still looking to claim a top-four spot in the East and enjoy home ice advantage at the start of this year’s playoffs – and this victory in Moscow lifted it to third in the table with one game to play.

Photo: 20.02.19. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Dynamo (Moscow) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Yakov Rylov’s eighth-minute goal was all that separated the teams at the first intermission as neither goalie was overworked in the opening exchanges. Dynamo raised the tempo in the middle frame after Patrik Zackrisson tied the game early in the session. The Swede had a good chance to put his team ahead but it was Maksim Matushkin who got the next goal as Magnitka reclaimed the initiative.

The final stanza was goalless; Vasily Koshechkin made 12 saves to claim the verdict for the visitor.

Lauridsen scores from his own goalline

Jokerit Helsinki 7 Slovan Bratislava 1 (2-0, 2-0, 3-1)

Danish defenseman Oliver Lauridsen scored a memorable goal to inflict another miserable defeat on bottom club Slovan. In the 58thminute, with his team on the penalty kill, he collected the puck deep in his own territory and, with his skate behind the Jokerit goalline, launched the puck up the ice. It bounced on the edge of Michal Vojvoda’s paint and looped up, deceiving the young goalie and finding its way into the net.

It made little difference to the final outcome: Jokerit led 6-0 when Lauridsen took his swing and went on to win 7-1 after Adam Liska got a late consolation effort for the visitor. However, it rather summed up a season in which nothing has gone right for Slovan and ensured that goalie Vojvoda’s first KHL start would be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The visitor came to Finland with just 15 players on the roster and the substitute goalie was listed as Casey Bailey, who usually plays forward. As a result, the 18-year-old Vojvoda had to play the full 60 minutes even as the scoring mounted up.

Jokerit, secure in fourth place, made short work of weakened opposition. Jesse Joensuu scored twice in the first period, Steve Moses and Tomi Maki extended the advantage in the second. A fine Vojvoda save denied Joensuu a hat-trick before Brian O’Neill and Marko Anttila took the scoring to 6-0 early in the third.

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