Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Sunday’s big showdown saw Avangard beat Ak Bars and close the gap at the top of the Eastern Conference. Last year’s beaten finalist took control from the start on the way to a 3-0 victory. In Belarus, Dinamo gave CSKA a scare in the first period but the Army Men marched to a 5-2 win and overtook SKA at the top of the Western Conference. Salavat Yulaev won 2-1 at Neftekhimik and Lokomotiv won in a shoot-out at Severstal.

Ufa up to third

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (0-0, 0-0, 1-2)

Neftekhimik missed the chance to climb into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, going down at home to Salavat Yulaev late in the game.

The first two periods of this encounter were goalless, but Neftekhimik had a small advantage on the balance of play. The home team outshot Ufa 27-14 and spent almost two minutes longer on the attack during the opening two sessions.

But it was Salavat Yulaev that broke the deadlock early in the third. Timur Khafizov took a tripping call and Ufa’s first power play lasted 13 seconds before Eduard Gimatov scored. The teams were playing 4-on-4 hockey when Neftekhimik tied the game on 53 minutes through Marat Khairullin, but Ufa was not to be denied. Linus Omark set up Vladislav Kartayev for the gamewinner in the 56th minute to move Salavat Yulaev up to third.

Avangard blanks league leader

Avangard Omsk 3 Ak Bars Kazan 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

The big game of the day pitted Chernyshev Division leader Avangard against an Ak Bars team out in from in the Kharlamov Division. It was the second meeting of the two this season, and once again it ended in a three-goal margin for the home team as Bob Hartley’s men avenged their 0-3 reverse in Kazan last month.

Photo: 08.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avangard (Omsk) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

It didn’t take long for Avangard to get ahead in this meeting of the top two in the Eastern Conference. With just 46 seconds played, the Hawks struck with their first attack of the game. The play started with Nikita Lyamkin losing the puck on the blue line and inviting Rob Klinkhammer to launch a counterattack down the left. The former Ak Bars man headed for the net and scored at the second attempt.

That ushered in a first period dominated by the home team, but it wasn’t until early in the second that Avangard extended its lead. Cody Franson’s point shot was deflected into the path of Kirill Semyonov and his attempt to find the far corner turned into a perfect feed for Sergei Shirokov to find the net. That was the end of Timur Bilyalov’s evening, with Adam Reideborn replacing him in the visitor’s net.

And Shirokov got the third goal in the 46th minute when a Ville Pokka effort flashed off the forward’s stick and left Reideborn stranded. That finished the scoring, and Igor Bobkov made 17 saves to secure his fourth shut-out of the season.

Incident-packed win for Loko

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 SO (2-1, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Mike Pelino’s team continues to alternate wins and losses after twice coming from behind to win in a shoot-out at Severstal. The game also featured a disallowed goal and a missed penalty shot in regulation.

Photo: 08.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Severstal (Cherepovets) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Lokomotiv dominated the first period yet found itself down 2-1 at the intermission. The visitor outshot Severstal 21-8 but was chasing the game after Alexander Petunin opened the scoring in the second minute. Rushan Rafikov tied the scores on the power play midway through the frame, but it wasn’t long before the home team restored its advantage. This time Dmitry Markovin found the target as the Steelmen made the most of their limited chances.

The second period saw Severstal close to extending its lead. The home team had the puck in the net thanks to Adam Liska but, amid furious protests from the Loko players, a video review found that the Slovak youngster scored with his hand.

Lokomotiv did not take immediate advantage of that reprieve, but early in the third period the Railwaymen tied the scores through Artur Kayumov. Just 30 seconds later the visitor had a great chance to go ahead when Nikita Makeyev tripped Alexander Polunin as he bore down on goal and gave away a penalty shot. However, Stephane Da Costa fired wide of the goal and the score remained tied.

It took a shoot-out to separate the teams. This time, Da Costa converted his attempt while team-mate Magnus Paajarvi Svensson scored twice to give Lokomotiv the edge.

CSKA goes back to the summit

Dinamo Minsk 2 CSKA Moscow 5 (2-2, 0-2, 0-1)

Struggling Dinamo briefly threatened an upset at home to the defending champion, but a strong second period from the visitor helped Igor Nikitin’s team return to the top of the Western Conference.

CSKA made a bright start to the game and went ahead on a Maxim Mamin goal after four minutes. But then penalty trouble started to hurt the Army Men. Minsk wasted one power play opportunity but made no mistake when it got a full two minutes of 5-on-3 play. Teemu Pulkkinen scored to tie the game. Barely back at full strength, the visitor took a too many men call and Francis Pare put Dinamo in front. Ryan Spooner collected his second assist of the game.

The Muscovites were not out of the woods yet; there was another penalty to kill, their fifth of the first period. But once back to equal strength Konstantin Okulov tied the game in the 16th minute.

At the start of the middle frame, CSKA turned the game around completely. Two goals in 67 seconds from Mamin and Maxim Shalunov opened a commanding lead. Mario Kempe picked up an assist to open his account for his new club. Discipline improved, with just one minor penalty in the second period, and Dinamo’s best chance of getting a result was all but gone.

In the third period, Kempe scored his first goal since returning to the KHL as CSKA extended its lead. The win puts the Moscow team ahead of SKA at the top of the Western Conference table, having played one game fewer than its Petersburg rival.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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