Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The latest edition of the KHL World Games saw Jokerit head to Tallinn for the first of two back-to-back games against Severstal. The change of scenery suited the Finns; after a short hop across the Baltic, they won 4-1 at the Tondiraba Ice Hall. Back in Russia, Kirill Kaprizov needed just 55 seconds to get his 100th regular season goal in the KHL, helping CSKA to victory at home to Kunlun Red Star. The Army Men stay out in front, but Dynamo climbed to second in the West with a 4-3 win at Salavat Yulaev. Sibir moved up to sixth in the East with a valuable win at home to Lokomotiv, Dinamo Minsk enjoyed a rare victory against Vityaz and Sochi needed a shoot-out to beat Spartak beside the Black Sea.

Sibir gets important win in playoff battle

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 (0-0, 1-1, 1-0)

Sibir inflicted a first loss of 2020 on Lokomotiv and tightened its grip on a playoff place, climbing to sixth in the Eastern Conference table. The visitor was lifted by the return of its youngsters Grigory Denisenko and Daniil Misyul, back home after winning silver with Russia at the recent World U20s Championship. For Denisenko in particular, it was a true homecoming: the forward was born in Novosibirsk and took his first steps on the ice within the Sibir set-up before moving to Yaroslavl in his teens.

However, it wasn’t to be a happy return for the young stars. Although Loko had the better of the first period, it could not find a way to convert that advantage into goals. It was a Sibir youngster, Nikita Shashkov, who opened the scoring early in the second period. The 20-year-old was part of last year’s World Junior team and made his KHL debut in the same season. Today he got his first goal of the season, firing home following a great pass from Nikolai Demidov.

However, that lead lasted just 16 seconds before Denisenko tied the scores after he stripped Dmitry Sayustov of the puck behind the net.

After that rapid goal exchange, Sibir came into the game rather more. Alexander Lazushin produced a highlight reel save to deny Jukka Peltola late in the second period before the visiting goalie was beaten in a one-on-one with Viktor Komarov at the start of the third. That was enough to give Sibir the win.

Four points for Petersson as Dynamo moves to second

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Dynamo Moscow 4 (0-1, 1-1, 2-2)

Dynamo moved up to second in the Western Conference thanks to a hard-fought victory in Ufa. However, after defeating Salavat Yulaev 4-1 in Moscow, the Blue-and-Whites almost let a similar scoreline slip here as the home team produced a brave fightback in the closing minutes.

The early scoring matched expectations. Dynamo’s powerful first line got on the scoreboard early when Andre Petersson set up Vadim Shipachyov’s fourth-minute opener. That was the only goal of a first period disrupted by frequent minor penalties, but Dynamo deserved its lead on the balance of play.

In the middle frame, Ufa posed more questions for Alexander Yeryomenko in the visitor’s net but fell further behind when Petersson struck midway through the frame. Sakari Manninen finally got Salavat off the mark with a power play goal in the last minute of the session.

However, penalty trouble hampered the host early in the third. A 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes was too good a chance for Dynamo to pass up and Petersson duly obliged with his second of the night. Then the Swede popped up with another assist as Dmitrij Jaskin made it 4-1 midway through the final stanza and it seemed that the game was as good as done.

Nikolai Tsulygin called a time-out and saw his team respond with two late goals. Manninen potted his second to keep the game alive and Teemu Hartikainen made it 3-4 late in the game. However, there was not enough time for the host to force overtime and Dynamo left with the verdict.

Red Army too strong for Red Star

CSKA Moscow 3 Kunlun Red Star 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Kirill Kaprizov got his 100th regular season goal to set CSKA on the way to victory against Kunlun Red Star – and added his 101st in a game-winning performance from the youngster.

Photo: 10.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

It took just 55 seconds for Kaprizov to open the scoring: a misplaced pass from behind the visitor’s net enabled Anton Slepyshev to win possession by the boards and he picked out Kaprizov unmarked in the face-off circle. That’s the kind of chance CSKA’s forward relishes, and he made no mistake.

Red Star found it hard to get into the game, and it took a big performance from Simon Hrubec to keep the score down to one in the opening frame. The second was little better for the visitor, which took 15 minutes to produce a shot on Lars Johansson’s net. True, there was one big chance when Hunter Shinkaruk slid the puck across the face of goal only to see it evade Griffin Reinhart’s efforts to turn it home at the back door, but in general there was only one team posing an offensive threat. And that threat was delivered late in the frame when Kaprizov potted his second of the evening.

The home team’s first line continued to impress and began the third period with another goal: this time Slepyshev was the scorer, Mario Kempe played a key role in the creative process and Kaprizov chipped in an assist for his third point of the night. Hrubec impressed again, making a fine pad save to deny Maxim Sorkin a short-handed goal before Johansson made a big save at the other end to deny Brandon Yip a breakaway goal and secure his fifth shut-out of the season.

Minsk draws level with Riga in battle to escape the basement

Dinamo Minsk 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 2 (0-0, 2-0, 1-2)

Two goals either side of the midway mark set Dinamo on the way to a morale-boosting victory. The win puts the Belarusians level on points with Dinamo Riga at the foot of the KHL table, although the Latvians have the edge in the tie-break after winning more games in regulation time.

Minsk’s victory here was built on those two quick goals. The game was goalless until Marc-Andre Gragnani found Ilya Ezhov’s net on 29:56. Barely a minute later, Alexander Pavlovich doubled the advantage and the game was heading decisively in Dinamo’s favor.

Early in the third, Andrei Kostitsyn added a third to give his team some comfort. Vityaz got one back through Daniil Pylenkov, another player back home from World Junior action, and Belarusian Pavel Vorobei got a power play goal in his home country, but Dinamo held on to take the win.

Jokerit enjoys Estonian excursion

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Severstal Cherepovets 1 (1-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Tallinn became the latest city to stage a game in the KHL World Games program, with Jokerit returning to the Estonian capital for the first of two match-ups this weekend. The Finns were last here in October 2018, facing Spartak and Severstal, while earlier Dinamo Riga also played several games on the territory of its Baltic neighbor.

The latest visit, though, was the first within the ‘World Games’ framework; a new branding for the KHL’s on-going efforts to promote the game across Europe and bring the best of our league to fans from countries that do not – at present – have a team of their own in the competition. Less than one month after visiting Davos, Switzerland, it was time for a welcome return to Tallinn.

The league standings, and the recent form guide, all suggested a victory for Jokerit. However, Severstal could justifiably point to the last meeting between the teams, which went to overtime before the Finns took the verdict. Meanwhile, the on-going form of Danish forward Niklas Jensen had him seeking his 100th point in the KHL if he could extend his productive streak to a ninth game.

Jensen duly delivered, getting an assist on Mikko Lehtonen’s power play goal early in the second period. That extended the lead given to the home team by Veli-Matti Savinainen in the seventh minute, firing home on the PK after a Brian O’Neill intercept turned defense into offense.

Midway through the game, Severstal got one back thanks to Bogdan Yakimov but late in the second period John Norman restored Jokerit’s two-goal lead. And the Finns saved the best until last: a Jokerit power play late in the third lasted just 11 seconds as a superb piece of tic-tac-toe dismantled the Severstal defense before Henrik Haapala stroked the puck into an empty net. Jensen, once again, was among the assists.

Jokerit moves to third in the Western Conference with this victory, overtaking SKA by virtue of winning more games in regulation. Lauri Marjamaki’s team also has games in hand on Dynamo and CSKA, the two teams immediately ahead in the race to the summit.

Tochitsky gives Sochi a shoot-out win

HC Sochi 2 Spartak Moscow 1 SO (0-0, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

A deke and a dangle from Nikita Tochitsky earned Sochi a shoot-out victory over Spartak in a tight game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Tochitsky, who also scored in regulation, pulled out his tricks to beat Julius Hudacek and give his team a win that maintains its hopes of getting into the playoff picture.

The first two periods were goalless, but Spartak finally broke the deadlock early in the third when Kaspars Daugavins converted a power play chance. The Latvian international won his battle on the slot and forced the puck past Ilya Proskuryakov.

However, the Red-and-Whites could not see the game out without going to overtime. With five minutes left, Tochitsky got the vital touch on Sergei Shmelyov’s tempting feed and diverted the puck beyond Hudacek.

Sochi began the extras on the power play following a penalty on Ilya Zubov in the last minute of regulation. However, the home team could not take advantage of that and the game went to a shoot-out.

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Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
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