Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Dynamo won the Moscow derby 3-0 at CSKA, getting its first win at its cross-town foe since 2016. The result also boosted SKA, which moves to the top of the Western Conference following a 6-2 win at Barys. It was a good day for the struggling teams in the East, with wins for the bottom three of Traktor, Amur and Neftekhimik over Avangard, Torpedo and Ak Bars respectively. Avtomobilist moved to third with victory at Admiral and Kunlun Red Star halted a two-game skid by defeating Dinamo Minsk. Spartak romped to its biggest road win of the season, downing Sibir 5-0 and Severstal snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 success over Sochi.

Amur blanks free-scoring Torpedo

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 0 (2-0, 0-0, 0-0)

Torpedo’s winning tour of the Far East came to an abrupt halt in Khabarovsk. After scoring 12 goals in two games, David Nemirovsky’s team fired blanks at Amur and went down to a 2-0 loss.

The goals arrived exactly one minute apart at the end of the first period. Danil Faizullin got the first, reacting fastest to a rebound off the boards. Then Alexander Gorshkov converted a dish from Vyacheslav Ushenin to make it 2-0.

Torpedo struggled to make much impression on the game in the second period but the visitor raised the tempo in the third as it looked for a way back. Amur was limited to just 12 seconds on offense and had a mere three shots at Anders Lindbak. However, it withstood the pressure to record a third successive victory.

Motormen move up to third

Admiral Vladivostok 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 OT (0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Avtomobilist made it five wins in a row and climbed to third in the Eastern Conference after edging past Admiral in overtime. For Admiral, meanwhile, the point secured from a 1-1 tie in regulation represented a positive response after a 0-5 drubbing at home to Torpedo in the previous game.

The first period was goalless, but hard fought. The teams collected 22 penalty minutes between them in that first stanza. However, it wasn’t until the middle of second period that the home team opened the scoring. Alexander Mereskin produced some great stick-handling to find a way through the Avtomobilist defense. However, the lead was short-lived. A penalty on Nikolai Stasenko gave Admiral a chance to extend its lead, but instead a short-handed goal from Anatoly Golyshev tied the scores.

The third session was also goalless but when Avtomobilist got a power play chance in overtime the visitor claimed the verdict. Nigel Dawes and Brooks Macek combined for Alexei Vasilevsky to fire home the winner.

Red Star bounces back

Kunlun Red Star 2 Dinamo Minsk 1 (1-0, 1-0, 0-1)

Red Star bounced back after two successive losses, but Dinamo’s troubles continued as the Bison slumped to an 11th straight defeat.

The Dragons shaded the first two periods and opened a 2-0 lead. Captain Brandon Yip opened the scoring on the power play in the sixth minute before Devante Smith-Pelly potted a second late in the middle frame. Smith-Pelly claimed his second goal in the KHL, deking away from Danny Taylor after Jake Chelios fired in a shot from the blue line.

In the third, Dinamo rallied and tried to take the game to the host. However, despite outshooting Red Star 19-4, only Andrei Kostitsyn could beat Jeremy Smith with a solo effort early in the session. The home team held on to remain in the playoff places; Dinamo remains stranded near the foot of the Western Conference.

Spartak posts biggest road win of season

Sibir Novosibirsk 0 Spartak Moscow 5 (0-1, 0-3, 0-1)

Spartak made it four wins in a row with a comprehensive victory over Sibir. The Red-and-Whites have found their goal touch in recent days, scoring 19 goals in those four successes.

Photo: 25.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Spartak (Moscow)

Wednesday’s game was decided in the second period. Spartak grabbed an early lead through Maxim Tsyplakov’s power play goal, but it wasn’t until the middle frame that the visitor took control. Unanswered goals from Andrei Kuteikin, Ilya Zubov and Mikhail Yunkov – all within barely four minutes – took the game away from Sibir.

Spartak had just seven shots on goal in that middle session, with home goalie Alexei Krasikov replaced by Harri Sateri. The Finn was beaten just once when Robin Hanzl got a power play goal early in the third. Opposite number Nikita Bespalov recorded a shut-out against his former club, making 25 saves.

Zub leads the way with a hat-trick

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 SKA St. Petersburg 6 (2-3, 0-3, 0-0)

Artyom Zub continued his rich vein of form with a hat-trick in Kazakhstan. The SKA defenseman was among the points in four of the last five games for his club, missing out only in the 0-1 loss to CSKA. Today, the 24-year-old delivered his first multi-goal game in the KHL, scoring twice in the first period and adding another in the second.

The game got off to a fast start. Barys needed just 11 seconds to take the lead through Atte Ohtamaa, but by 3:43 SKA was in front. Jori Lehtera tied the game before Zub got his first of the evening. Midway through the opening frame, Zub struck again and that marked the end of the action for starting goalie Henrik Karlsson. Barys soon pulled a goal back through Alexei Maklyukov and the game was intriguingly poised going into the second period.

However, penalty trouble sank the host in middle frame. Nail Yakupov and Vasily Tokranov added power play goals before Zub completed his treble late in the session. There was no further scoring in the third as SKA closed out a convincing win.

Victory at last for Severstal

Severstal Cherepovets 4 HC Sochi 2 (2-2, 1-0, 1-0)

Severstal snapped a five-game skid thanks to goals either side of the second intermission.

The home team won it thanks to a Yegor Yakovlev power play goal late in the middle frame, snapping a 2-2 tie. Then, at the start of the third, Alexander Polunin increased the lead when a ricochet put the puck on his stick, and he converted the chance with a one-timer.

This time, Severstal held onto its two-goal lead until the end. Earlier, though, the home team jumped to a 2-0 lead only for the visitor to bounce back. Vladislav Kodola opened the scoring after six minutes and Yegor Morozov added a power play tally. However, Robert Rosen quickly reduced the arrears with a power play marker of his own and Yury Alexandrov, once a Severstal player, tied the scores with a powerful effort from the blue line.

Another derby loss for Ak Bars

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 1 SO (1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Back in Russia after Monday’s adventure in Switzerland, Ak Bars found itself tossed into another derby battle. After the Green Derby in Davos, this was a Tatar rivalry played out in Nizhnekamsk. And, as in Davos, the teams could not be separated in regulation.

This time, though, it was a tighter battle. The teams traded first-period goals, with Roman Rukavishnikov opening the scoring in the ninth minute, only for Matt White to tie the scores five minutes later. Subsequently, though, the scoring dried up. Chances were hard to come by and the goalies, Konstantin Barulin and Adam Reideborn, were on top of the shots that came their way.

The pattern continued into the shoot-out. The first 10 attempts brought 10 saves as the goaltenders bossed the forwards. Into sudden death, Artyom Galimov was denied by Barulin and White took his chance to settle the outcome. Neftekhimik ended a four-game losing streak; KHL leader Ak Bars suffered a third successive loss.

Dynamo triumphs in Moscow battle

CSKA Moscow 0 Dynamo Moscow 3 (0-0, 0-1, 0-2)

Dynamo celebrated a victory at cross-town rival CSKA for the first time since 2016 as the Army Men lost their grip on top spot in the Western Conference. CSKA also saw its six-game winning streak halted as two goals and an assist from Dmitrij Jaskin led the Blue-and-Whites to success.

Photo: 25.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

The visitor was under pressure for much of the first period, twice killing penalties and spending much of its time on defense. However, CSKA struggled to get shots on Ivan Bocharov’s net, frequently firing wide of the target.

Dynamo’s first power play came midway through the second period and it led to the first goal of the game. Jaskin was the scorer, sent into the CSKA zone by Vadim Shipachyov and using the threat of Daniil Tarasov at the far post to conceal his intention to shoot and surprise Lars Johansson in the home net. That was one of just three Dynamo shots in the middle frame, but it was enough to separate the teams going into the third.

In the final session the game opened up at last and both teams were able to get more shots on goal. However, it was the visitor who made them count. Jaskin turned provider, winning a face-off and sending the puck back for Michal Cajkovsky to double the lead midway through the frame. And the Czech international had the final word, scoring into an empty net to complete a memorable win for Dynamo.

Avangard stumbles at home, Traktor keeps up its progress

Avangard Omsk 1 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (0-1, 1-0, 0-2)

Traktor’s improvement continues; Vladimir Yurzinov’s team remains bottom of the Eastern Conference but today’s win at high-flying Avangard makes it three in a row and hints at a revival for the strugglers.

Photo: 25.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avangard (Omsk) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

There were more encouraging signs for Chelyabinsk: Vyacheslav Osnovin got his first goal since returning from injury while today’s other scorers are showing signs of getting on a bit of a streak.

Traktor took the lead early in the game through Lukas Sedlak. The Czech scored his third goal in four games, albeit with the help of some clumsy goaltending from Emil Garipov, who allowed a big rebound from a harmless dump up the ice. Avangard responded midway through the second period when Ville Pokka tied the scores, but in a game where both teams were creating presentable chances it was the visitor that would go on to get the win.

Ruslan Karlin potted the game winner midway through the third period. He got his stick to a wrister from Nick Bailen and steered the puck down into the net. Avangard challenged, claiming the stick was high, but the video review confirmed that when the stick made contact with the puck it was below the level of the crossbar.

Traktor sealed the win in the last minute with Osnovin’s empty net goal. For him, it was a welcome return to scoring after his lay-off; for the team it secured a valuable victory.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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