Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Two goals from Andre Petersson led the way for Dynamo as it won the Moscow derby 3-0 at Spartak. Fellow Western high-flyer SKA bounced back from a heavy loss to win 4-1 at Dinamo Minsk, but Ak Bars had to battle all the way to retrieve a 0-3 deficit at home to Traktor. The Eastern Conference leader eventually prevailed in overtime, but only after a struggle against the bottom club. Elsewhere, Avtomobilist and Lokomotiv blanked Neftekhimik and Kunlun Red Star respectively, Vityaz got its second victory of the new year at home to Admiral, Metallurg did likewise against Sibir and Severstal dented Amur’s hopes of getting into the playoff race in the East.

Second-period show sinks Neftekhimik

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 (0-0, 3-0, 0-0)

A powerful second-period performance saw Avtomobilist cruise to victory against Neftekhimik for the third time this season. The playoff chasing visitor allowed three goals in five minutes to lose its grip on the game despite posing plenty of problems for the host in the first period.

Although Avtomobilist had control of much of the play in the first 20 minutes, the clearest chances went to Neftekhimik. Twice Jakub Kovar had to rescue his team after defensive errors presented the visitor with opportunities to open the scoring.

In the middle frame, though, the home team moved up a gear. The reward came midway through the game when Pavel Datsyuk applied the decisive touch to a point shot from Georgy Belousov to open the scoring. The second goal was not long in coming, with Dan Sexton stealing the puck and surging forward to set up Peter Holland for a goal on the counter attack. Rafael Batyrshin finished the scoring when he fired home a Nigel Dawes pass from between the hash marks. There was no way back for Neftekhimik, which remains in 10th place struggling to catch up with the top eight.

Timkin fires up Metallurg

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 1 (0-1, 2-0, 1-0)

Sometimes, it takes a bit of aggression to invigorate a team and inspire a recovery. And that’s exactly how it happened for Metallurg in its home game against Sibir. The visitor was up 1-0 midway through the second period and, while the game was far from over, there was a sense that Magnitka was laboring a little in its efforts to get back into contention.

Enter Evgeny Timkin. The center is renowned for never shirking a challenge and he was the guy who got his team fired up when he got into a fight with Andrei Makarov in the 33rd minute. Timkin won the fight, giving the entire arena a lift and inspiring his team mates to raise their game. Less than a minute later, Nikita Pivtsakin tied the scores and Metallurg was on its way.

Yegor Yakovlev quickly made it 2-1, firing home a pass from Eric O’Dell on the power play, and the atmosphere was transformed. Mikael Ruohomaa’s opening goal for the visitor felt like ancient history; Metallurg was in the ascendancy and took the game to Sibir. A late goal from Sergei Mozyakin finished the job; the record-breaking forward was first to react when a Pivtsakin shot deflected into his path off a Sibir defenseman. The home team remains fifth in the East but has some much-needed breathing space in the race for the playoffs.

Loko too strong for Red Star

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 5 Kunlun Red Star 0 (0-0, 3-0, 2-0)

Lokomotiv seized control of this game in the second period and went on to hand a heavy defeat to the Dragons. The Chinese team has now lost four in a row and is in danger of getting sucked into the maelstrom of teams swirling around eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The opening frame was even, with Red Star arguably having the better chances. Cory Kane was denied by the post, Brandon DeFazio might have opened the scoring on an odd-man rush. But after a freakish goal gave Loko the lead early in the second, the game swiftly got away from the visitor.

Roman Savchenko was credited with the opener, but in truth he knew little about it. The Loko man slung the puck to the slot and looked on gleefully as goalie and defenseman got into a tangle and contrived to put the disk into the net. A couple of minutes later it was 2-0, Pavel Kudryavtsev enjoying plenty of space in front of goal to beat Jeremy Smith. Artyom Ilyenko added a third late in the frame to put the game beyond Red Star.

The scoring continued in the third. Savchenko made it 4-0 in more conventional fashion, potting a short-handed goal off a Nikolai Kovalenko feed from behind the net. Then Artur Kayumov completed the scoring, wrapping up a slick passing move to wrap up a convincing Loko victory.

Severstal knocks Amur’s playoff push

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Amur Khabarovsk 1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Amur’s hopes of getting to the race for the top eight in the East took a knock with defeat at Severstal. The Tigers have now lost two in succession this year, undoing much of the good work from a five-game winning streak that rounded off 2019.

The visitor made a good start here, opening the scoring through Alexander Kuznetsov midway through the first period. However, the lead was short lived as Alexander Petunin tied it up a couple of minutes later.

Severstal probably has too much to do to reach the playoffs in the West, but Andrei Razin’s team has shown improved form of late and managed to secure its third victory in four games thanks to a goal from Evgeny Bodrov early in the third period. Amur responded by piling the pressure onto Dmitry Shugayev’s net, but the 21-year-old held out to record a win in his first KHL start.

SKA’s sharp-shooters are too much for Minsk

Dinamo Minsk 1 SKA St. Petersburg 4 (0-2, 0-1, 1-1)

SKA produced the perfect response to its Helsinki horror show, bouncing back from a 0-6 drubbing against Jokerit with a comfortable victory on the road in Minsk.

And there was another goal from a SKA rookie, with Vasily Glotov, 22, marking his second appearance in the KHL with his first goal in the big league. He potted the fourth, converting a Miro Aaltonen feed. Earlier in the game, Aaltonen scored his first since joining SKA from Vityaz.

That came after a first period that saw the visitor take control against struggling Dinamo. The home team snapped a 12-game losing streak when it defeated Severstal last time out, but today it fell victim to clinical SKA finishing. Minsk had the better of the first period in most aspects, but crucially could not score on Magnus Hellberg. SKA had fewer shots at Danny Taylor, but made more of them. Joonas Kemppainen and Andrei Kuzmenko cruelly exposed the difference between top and bottom in the KHL standings, converting their chances while Dinamo repeatedly fluffed its lines at the other end.

Second win makes it a Happy New Year for Vityaz

Vityaz Moscow Region 4 Admiral Vladivostok 3 (2-0, 1-2, 1-1)

2020 is looking like a happier new year for Vityaz after Mikhail Kravets’ team picked up its second successive victory. The Podolsk men struggled at the end of 2019 and found themselves dropping to eighth in the table. But back-to-back successes this week moved Vityaz ahead of Torpedo and, more importantly, opened a 10-point gap over ninth-placed Sochi in the race for the playoff spots.

Photo: 05.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Admiral (Vladivostok)

Admiral, meanwhile, suffered a fifth straight defeat and needs a boost if it is to catch the top eight in the East. Just two points separate the Sailors from Salavat Yulaev, but the Vladivostok team has used up its games in hand during that losing run and must hope for teams above to stumble in the closing weeks of the campaign.

This game saw Vityaz take control midway through the first period. Jakub Jerabek and Pekka Jormakka opened a 2-0 lead for the home team and Admiral could not find a way back. True, the visitor reduced the deficit in the middle stanza, with Shawn Lalonde and Martin Bakos on target either side of Jerabek’s second of the game. But Quinton Howden got his first for Vityaz early in the final frame and that was too much for the visitor. A late goal from Oleg Lomako was merely consolation for Admiral.

Petersson inspires Dynamo derby win

Spartak Moscow 0 Dynamo Moscow 3 (0-1, 0-1, 0-1)

Dynamo’s top line has been a powerful force all season – but up to now most of the attention has focussed on Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin. Today, though, it was Andre Petersson who stepped up with a game-winning performance in the Moscow derby against Spartak.

Photo: 05.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Spartak (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

The Swede joined the Blue-and-Whites over the summer, but while the Shipachyov-Jaskin partnership has blossomed, the former Barys, Avangard and Sochi forward struggled with an injury and took a little bit longer to settle. All the same, he came into the game with a creditable 29 (12+17) points from 37 games – and left it with two more goals on his account.

The first of them came in the ninth minute as Dynamo converted its first power play of the game. Maxim Goncharov sat for high sticks, Jaskin fed Michal Cajkovsky at the point and the Slovak’s shot was redirected by Petersson. The visitor had a great chance to double that advantage late in the frame when Dmitry Vishnevsky dragged Jaskin back when he was shaping to shoot. The Czech picked himself up to take the penalty shot but Julius Hudacek came up with the save.

After the intermission, Dynamo needed just nine seconds to double its lead. The Blue-and-Whites won the face-off and set off down the ice. Shipachyov made the feed from the corner and Petersson one-timer lazered to the top shelf with Hudacek beaten.

With a two-goal deficit to recover, Spartak injected some urgency into its offense and began to out-shoot Dynamo. However, Ivan Bocharov stood firm at the other end to secure his second successive shut-out. And the final say went to the visitor with Jaskin scoring into the empty net to give Dynamo a second victory of the season over former head coach Oleg Znarok.

Zaripov inspires Ak Bars fightback

Ak Bars Kazan 4 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 OT (0-1, 0-2, 3-0, 1-0)

Traktor belied its status at the foot of the Eastern Conference by jumping to a 3-0 lead in Kazan. However, Ak Bars showed why it is top of the table by recovering the game in the third period.

Two goals from veteran forward Danis Zaripov rescued the home team. The Ak Bars captain pounced on the rebound from a Mikael Wikstrand shot to make it 2-3 with eight minutes left, then forced overtime with 90 seconds left. The tying goal came from a combination with Artyom Galimov, who assisted on all three Ak Bars goals.

Earlier, Lukas Sedlak gave Traktor a first-period lead, adding to his goal in Friday’s 6-1 win at Torpedo. It got even better for the visitor in the second session; Alexander Avtsin and Nick Bailen increased the lead either side of the half-hour mark and it looked like another big win could be on its way for Traktor.

However, Ak Bars hit back with a power play goal from Stanislav Galiyev at the start of the third and Zaripov’s double took us to overtime. And that’s where Artyom Galimov settled it for the home team, beating namesake Stanislav at the second attempt to seal the points.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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