Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The big game of the day lived up to its billing as Salavat Yulaev played out a thriller against Ak Bars. The home side tied it at 3-3 with just six seconds left to play, but the visitor took the verdict on a shoot-out decided from Danis Zaripov. Avtomobilist also picked up a good win, edging CSKA Moscow 2-1. On a day full of one-goal games, Admiral beat Sibir 2-1, Amur and Dinamo Riga had overtime wins on the road, and it took a shoot-out to separate Jokerit and Lokomotiv. Only Traktor bucked the trend, powering to a 4-0 win at home to Torpedo.

Admiral adds to Sibir’s problems

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

Sibir suffered a seventh successive loss – yet so tight is the Eastern Conference that a victory on Sunday would have returned Nikolai Zavarukhin’s team to the top eight. Instead, though, Admiral came from behind to win 2-1 in Novosibirsk, climbing to fourth place in the table.

After an uneventful start, the game exploded into life in the closing moments of the second period. Alexander Sharov’s powerful shot gave Sibir the lead in the 36th minute as the host capitalized on a double power play, but by the end of the frame Admiral was in front. Kirill Voronin and Markus Ljungh got the goals, Martin Bakos had an assist on the second to extend his productive streak to six games.

Not even a late surge could save Sibir in this game. The home team fought hard but was unable to escape yet another defeat.

Amur battles back in Kazakhstan

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Amur Khabarovsk 3 OT (1-0, 1-1, 0-1, 0-1)

The Tigers clawed back a two-goal deficit to take an overtime verdict in Kazakhstan with Igor Rudenkov getting the decisive goal.

Neither team was able to create much at the start of this game, but when Amur’s Maxim Kondratyev was sent to the box midway through the first period, Barys needed just nine seconds to open the scoring. Arkady Shestakov got the goal following a shot from Nikita Mikhailis. Amur mustered just one shot at Eddie Pasquale in the opening frame and there wasn’t a big change in the second session. However, after Pavel Akolzin doubled the home lead, the visitor awoke at last. At one end, Tomas Zohorna reduced the deficit; at the other Evgeny Alikin lost his stick but still pulled off a big save to stop Barys restoring the two-goal advantage.

Midway through the third period, Amur tied the scores. The Zohorna brothers combined to set up Ondrej Vitasek for a power play goal and the game was headed for overtime. Another Barys penalty ultimately decided the extras; Rudenkov put the puck in the net 20 seconds before the home team was due to return to full strength.

Zaripov wins a Green Derby thriller

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Ak Bars Kazan 4 SO (0-2, 1-0, 2-1, 0-0, 0-1)

The 200th edition of the Green Derby served up another thriller – and surely whetted the appetite of fans in Switzerland, which will host next month’s meeting between these old rivals.

Photo: 24.11.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

This was a game that had everything: goals, a big fightback, a dramatic late equalizer and a nerve-jangling shoot-out. And, to decide it all, a touch of star quality from Ak Bars legend Danis Zaripov, who nervelessly slid his shoot-out attempt beneath Juha Metsola’s pad to win the game for Kazan.

Earlier, the visitor felt it had the outcome largely settled in the first period. Defensemen Roman Rukavishnikov and Albert Yarullin fired Ak Bars into a 2-0 lead. For Rukavishnikov, it was his first goal since arriving from SKA and he followed up with a helper on Yarullin’s power play effort.

Ufa responded in the second period through another D-man, Zakhar Arzamastsev but when young Vladislav Kara restored the two-goal margin midway through the third it felt that Ak Bars might have done enough. However, nobody told the home team. Sakari Manninen reduced the deficit before, with just six seconds left, Nikita Soshnikov potted his 17th goal of the season to save the game for his team. The Salavat forward remains out in front in the goalscoring charts this season.

Extra time brought good chances at both ends but no goals. The 200th meeting of these famous clubs would be settled in a shoot-out. Even then, it took 16 attempts to separate the two; Dmitry Kugryshev had four goes for Salavat, scoring twice, but it was Zaripov’s composed finish that finally sealed the result.

Improving Avtomobilist inflicts another loss on CSKA

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 CSKA Moscow 1 (0-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Avtomobilist moves up to sixth place in the East after downing the defending champion. The Motormen are on a run of six wins from seven and are just one point adrift of the top four. CSKA, meanwhile, continues to stutter. This was a fifth loss in six games and the Army Men last won in regulation back on Nov. 2.

Photo: 24.11.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - CSKA (Moscow)

The Muscovites started the game on the front foot and had the better of the first period but could not find a way past Jakub Kovar in the home net. With brave defense in front of him, the Czech repelled the early waves of pressure and Avto gradually gained a foothold in the game with some dangerous counter attacks.

In the second period, Avtomobilist was able to start moving the puck better. Suddenly CSKA had to look to its forecheck to stay on top of the game and midway through the frame the home team broke through. Vyacheslav Litovchenko was the scorer, wrapping up a well-worked move in the 29th minute.

Having got the lead, the home team decided to preserve its advantage. The tempo dropped and the Motormen played cautious hockey in the third period. However, when Pavel Datsyuk intercepted the puck midway through the frame, it kickstarted the home offense. Yefim Gurkin’s diagonal split the CSKA defense and Dan Sexton converted from a tight angle to make it 2-0. Kirill Kaprizov had time to pull one back for the Army Men, ensuring an anxious finale, but Avtomobilist held on for a morale-boosting win.

Victory for Yurzinov at last

Traktor Chelyabinsk 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 0 (2-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Recently-appointed Traktor head coach Vladimir Yurzinov did not enjoy the happiest of starts to life in Chelyabinsk. A rough run of fixtures saw him defeated in his first four games, losing to Metallurg, Ak Bars, Avtomobilist and Jokerit. Today, at last, it all went right.

Torpedo arrived on the back of four successive victories but ran into a Traktor team that was no longer prepared to put up with losing. The host flew into the game from the start and took the lead in the 13th minute when Tomas Hyka shot home from an acute angle. Late in the opening session, Traktor got the first power play of the game and Andrew Calof took advantage to score against his former club and double the lead.

The second period was far more even, but even though Torpedo matched its host shot for shot, Traktor got the only goal of the frame. Yaroslav Kosov was the scorer after he found space in center ice and advanced to beat Anders Lindbak. In the third, Calof added another when he stripped a Torpedo defenseman of the puck and converted the chance himself.

As well as winning the game, Yurzinov also enjoyed his first shut-out at his new club. That was down to a fine display from 21-year-old goalie Vladislav Sukhachyov. In his first start of the season, he made 25 saves and reinforced the potential he showed a year ago when he first ever KHL start brought 30 saves in a 0-1 loss against SKA.

Ashton at the double for Dinamo

HC Sochi 2 Dinamo Riga 3 OT (1-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Carter Ashton scored twice as Dinamo Riga snapped a three-game losing streak with an overtime success in Sochi. A five-figure crowd came along to see this match-up between two teams outside the Western Conference playoff spots – and while home fans were disappointed with the result there could be no arguments about the entertainment on offer.

Sochi, looking to bounce back from defeat against Lokomotiv last time out, was keen to get shots on goal from the start. And, when the host enjoyed its first power play of the game, it opened the scoring through Dmitry Lugin. However, penalties were a problem for the home team. Barely had Lugin celebrated his marker than the Leopards were defending a 3-on-5 situation. It took just seven seconds for Riga to unpick the depleted defense as Ashton got his first of the night.

There was a similar story in the second period. Andrei Altybarmakyan restored the home lead, but another 5-on-3 power play gave Dinamo a route back into the game. This time, Uvis Balinskis was the goalscorer.

After two periods of open hockey, the third was quieter. Dinamo found it difficult to generate offense, but the visiting defense stifled Sochi at the other end. Then, in overtime, Ashton got his second of the game to win it for the Latvians.

Loko edges Jokerit in shoot-out

Jokerit Helsinki 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 SO (1-1, 0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1)

The last game of the day also went to overtime – four out of seven meetings on Sunday went beyond the 60-minute mark – before Staffan Kronwall gave Lokomotiv the verdict in Helsinki

Earlier in the game, Lokomotiv youngster Nikolai Kovalenko scored twice, cancelling out Peter Regin’s opener in the first period and putting the visitor in front in the second. However, Henrik Haapala tied it up early in the third, putting the puck away after an Alex Grant shot. Petri Kontiola, once of Lokomotiv, also had an assist on that play.

However, there would be no further scoring – despite a fine chance for Loko’s Magnus Paajarvi Svensson in overtime – until that shoot-out. Kovalenko beat Janis Kalnins for the third time to give the Railwaymen the advantage, Brian O’Neill responded for Jokerit but Kronwall emphatically converted the 10th shot to take the points back to Yaroslavl.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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