Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Some returns are happy, others less so. Sunday saw Mario Kempe go back to Vityaz, now in the colors of CSKA, and collect a goal and an assist in his team’s 6-1 win. However, Metallurg’s Ilya Vorobyov found his trip back to St. Petersburg a more frustrating affair. The former SKA head coach watched his team suffer a narrow 2-1 loss. Elsewhere, Dynamo Moscow won 3-1 at home to Sochi and Spartak’s retro-game brought a win over Barys by the same scoreline.

Sochi penalty miss is costly

Dynamo Moscow 3 HC Sochi 1 (0-0, 1-1, 2-0)

Third-placed Dynamo survived a scare to defeat Sochi. In the second period, with the score tied at 1-1, Sergei Shmelyov missed a great chance to give the visitor the lead when he squandered a penalty shot. That chance came just moments after Sochi tied the game and could have profoundly changed the course of the evening.

Instead, though, Dynamo held on until the intermission, regrouped, and won it with two unanswered goals in the third. Maxim Afinogenov made it 2-1 in the 49th minute and a late goal from Daniil Tarasov put the game beyond Sochi’s reach.

Earlier, the home team had the better of a goalless first period and eventually got in front thanks to Vadim Shipachyov’s power play effort midway through the second. But Dmitry Arkhipov’s leveller was followed by a penalty on Ivan Igumnov and during that PK Dmitrij Jaskin was called for throwing the stick to give Shmelyov that penalty shot chance.

Kempe returns to haunt his former club

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 CSKA Moscow 6 (1-0, 0-3, 0-3)

Three goals in 130 seconds turned this game upside down and set CSKA on the way to an emphatic victory.

Photo: 22.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - CSKA (Moscow)

Vityaz got a great start, opening the scoring with a power play goal from Alexander Semin inside three minutes and continuing to hold its own throughout the first period. But everything changed in the second as the Army Men fired off a swift scoring salvo. A double minor for Alexei Makeyev was the catalyst: Mario Kempe tied it up against his former club before adding an assist as Mikhail Grigorenko made it 2-1. Two power play goals in 60 seconds, and CSKA wasn’t done. Pavel Karnaukhov made it 3-1 after another 70 seconds and the game was out of reach for the home team.

CSKA maintained its dominance until the end and added three more goals in the final frame. Sergei Tolchinsky and Mat Robinson sandwiched a second of the evening for Grigorenko as the Army Men made it five wins in a row.

No happy return for Vorobyov in Petersburg

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 (0-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Ilya Vorobyov returned to Petersburg behind the bench of Metallurg as the day’s big game pitted two big names against one another. SKA is enjoying a solid run of form, battling with CSKA at the top of the Western Conference after shrugging off some early wobbles. Metallurg, meanwhile, has yet to find its best game after a turbulent season that has seen Vorobyov recruited in place of Josef Jandac while the team struggles to cement itself in the top eight of the Eastern Conference.

Sunday’s game saw SKA continue its push for the leadership, but Magnitka could take some positives from a narrow loss. In the first period, Magnus Hellberg was the busier of the two goalies as Vorobyov’s team looked to take the game to the Army Men. However, it wasn’t easy to break down the home defense and even though the visitor did well to get traffic in front of Hellberg’s net, the Swede was able to avoid allowing any chances on the rebound.

In the second period, Artyom Zub broke the deadlock. The defenseman made a foray forward and squeezed home a shot from a tight angle in the 25th minute. That was just one of 19 attempts on goal in the middle stanza, but after Hellberg frustrated Metallurg in the first frame it was Vasily Demchenko’s turn to impress in the second.

The start of the third brought a brisk trade in goals. Metallurg got a power play chance and duly cashed in when Dennis Rasmussen quickly found a wrister from the right circle to beat Hellberg at last. However, parity was short-lived. Zub got involved again, this time with a point shot, and Dmitry Kagarlitsky was on hand to redirect into the net for the winning goal.

Back to the 70s

Spartak Moscow 3 Barys Nur-Sultan 1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0)

The now-traditional Spartak retro-game had a 70s theme this year, recalling a decade that saw the Red-and-Whites win a fourth Soviet championship plus two Soviet Cups and two European Cups. Away from the colorful entourage surrounding the game, though, Oleg Znarok’s team was looking to post a third straight win while Barys defended a four-game hot streak.

Photo: 20.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Spartak (Moscow) - Barys (Nur-Sultan)

There was little between the teams in the first period, but a goal from Ilya Zubov midway through the session was enough to give the home team the edge. The second period brought a more confident performance from the host, but after Artyom Fyodorov extended the lead Barys found a rapid response when Arkady Shestakov pulled it back to 2-1.

In the third period, Spartak looked to shut the game down completely. There were just seven shots on goal in total; the home team sacrificing its offense in order to deprive Barys of good looks at Julius Hudacek’s net. With 11 blocked shots to their name, the Spartak defense put everything on the line to stifle the opposition and the reward came in the last minute when a breakout enabled Alexander Khokhlachyov to shoot into the empty net and seal the win.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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