Andy Potts Andy Potts
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There were defeats for the top teams in East and West on Sunday. Ak Bars went down to a heavy 1-5 loss at Admiral, before CSKA was beaten in a shoot-out at home to Avtomobilist. Among the chasing pack in the West, SKA edged a hard-fought victory over Dynamo in a battle between two of the closest challengers for the summit. Barys stays in contention at the top of the Chernyshev Division after an overtime win against Lokomotiv. Elsewhere, strugglers Dinamo Riga and Dinamo Minsk suffered heavy losses against Salavat Yulaev and Spartak respectively. HC Sochi kept its playoff push alive with a shoot-out success at Traktor while Vityaz handed Neftekhimik a damaging loss in Nizhnekamsk.

Leader suffers heavy loss in Vladivostok

Admiral Vladivostok 5 Ak Bars Kazan 1 (2-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Admiral moved to within a point of the playoff places thanks to a convincing victory over Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars. The highlight for the home team was Nikita Korostelyov’s first goal in the KHL, while the visitor suffered a second successive heavy defeat after losing 1-4 at home to Torpedo in its previous game.

Admiral did not get many shots at the visitor’s net in the early stages, but still jumped to a 2-0 lead with a couple of quick goals. Kirill Pilipenko opened the scoring before Korostelyov’s big moment. The 22-year-old, who began the season on CSKA’s books, produced an impressive raid through the defense, stickhandling his way past two players before beating Adam Reideborn.

That start saw Ak Bars turn to Amir Miftakhov, the youngster who helped Russia to the recent World Junior final, in place of starting goalie Reideborn. However, he was unable to turn the tide on only his second KHL appearance, allowing three further goals as Admiral cruised to victory.

Pilipenko got his second of the game – ending a goal drought dating back to 2015 – before Justin Azevedo belatedly got the visitor on the scoreboard. But hopes of a fightback were quashed when Adam Almqvist added two more to set the seal on his team’s first home victory over this opponent since 2015.

Kazakhs shrug off fatigue to beat Loko

Barys Nur-Sultan 4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 OT (2-0, 1-2, 0-1, 1-0)

Barys bounced back from Saturday’s loss at home to Avangard to defeat Lokomotiv in overtime and move to within one point of the top of the Chernyshev Division.

Despite playing for the second time in 24 hours and struggling to sustain a high tempo in the opening stages, Barys did well in the first period. Almost every attack produced an attempt on goal, and two of them found the net. Nikita Mikhailis and Corban Knight hit the target to give the home team a solid advantage at the end of the first period.

However, fatigue caught up with Barys at the start of the second period. Mikhailis twice made errors trying to get the puck clear of the zone and Anton Lander capitalized to put Loko right back in the game. The home forward made amends with an assist as Dustin Boyd made it 3-1, but it wasn’t long before Rushan Rafikov again made it one-goal game.

Midway through the third, Stephane Da Costa’s power play put Loko level. However, if the visitor hoped that extra energy would see it to victory, the home team had other ideas. Barys dominated the play in overtime and got the winner when Anton Sagadeyev converted a solo breakaway to settle the issue.

Ufa enjoys home romp

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5 Dinamo Riga 0 (1-0, 2-0, 2-0)

Salavat Yulaev enjoyed a convincing victory against struggling Dinamo, wrapping up its four-game home stand with a morale-boosting success as it continues to battle for a place in the Eastern playoffs. The result lifts Ufa up to sixth in the table and maintains a three-point lead over Admiral in ninth.

The difference between the teams was one of confidence in front of the net. Dinamo, struggling at the foot of the West, matched its host in many areas but was unable to convert its opportunities into goals. Good work from Andrei Kareyev and hesitant finishing cost the visitor.

At the other end, though, Salavat Yulaev had few problems as it ran up five goals without reply. Vladimir Zharkov got things started when the game was just two minutes old and the second period brought a pair of power play goals in quick succession to take the points out of Riga’s reach. Teemu Hartikainen and Eduard Gimatov scored the goals.

In the third, Alexei Kruchinin got his first goal since joining Salavat Yulaev from Traktor last month. And a second goal for Gimatov wrapped up a big win for the home team.

Sochi stays in playoff race

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 HC Sochi 3 SO (1-1, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Sochi collected a second successive shoot-out win, with Nikita Tochitsky to the fore once again as the Black Sea battles to stay in the race for a playoff place.

This one was far from easy for the visitor. Traktor, bottom of the Eastern Conference at the start of play, led twice on goals from Tomas Hyka. However, Tochitsky cancelled out the first and Nikita Vyglazov made it 2-2 early in the third period.

That set up another Sochi shoot-out and once again the Leopards kept their nerve to take the ‘W’. Goalie Ilya Proskuryakov was unbeaten at one end, and Tochitsky got the decisive score at the other to make it back-to-back wins for his team. Traktor’s point moves it ahead of Amur at the foot of the Eastern Conference.

Vityaz hampers Neftekhimik’s chances

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 3 (0-1, 1-1, 1-1)

Neftekhimik missed a chance to close on the top eight in the East when it fell to defeat at home to Vityaz on Sunday afternoon. Quinton Howden’s goal proved decisive in this game as the visitor gained a deserved victory and consolidated its grip on seventh place in the west.

Vityaz took control of the game with goals either side of the first intermission. First, Alexei Makeyev scored on the counter attack late in the first. Then, after a goaltending error, Pavel Dorofeyev doubled the lead in the 24th minute. Late in the middle frame the home team got back into it when Matt White created a chance for Pavel Poryadin to make it 1-2.

Vityaz, though, would not be denied. Howden lazered a shot past Konstantin Barulin and a Ziyat Paigin goal midway through the third period was not enough to save the home team from defeat.

Youthful SKA edges past Dynamo once again

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Dynamo Moscow 1 OT (0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 1-0)

SKA defeated Dynamo for the fourth time this season, but once again the Muscovites forced the game into overtime. And that point keeps the Blue-and-Whites on top of the Bobrov Division, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

Photo: 12.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Dinamo (Moscow)

The visitor, determined to end its losing streak against the Army Men, made a good start. Maxim Afinogenov opened the scoring in the ninth minute. The 40-year-old became the oldest scorer in Dynamo’s long history, against an opponent that named five members of Russia’s World Juniors roster in its line-up.

However, youth would have the age over experience in the end. Admittedly, there were challenges to navigate: Sergei Plotnikov was ejected from the game late in the first after slashing at Dmitrij Jaskin, but Dynamo could not capitalize on the major penalty. Even as the game wore on and Dynamo held its lead, Alexei Kudashov was unafraid to deploy his youthful Marchenko-Podkolzin-Morozov line and that combination forced a tying goal midway through the third. Admittedly, it was Igor Ozhiganov who got the finishing touch, but the play owed much to the efforts of the youngsters.

That took the game to overtime where Artyom Zub once again demonstrated his abilities in 3-on-3 hockey. This time he converted a pass from Nail Yakupov to give SKA the verdict.

Sexton gives shoot-out win to Avto

CSKA Moscow 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 SO (2-0, 0-2, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Avtomobilist battled back from 0-2 to force overtime at the league leader, then held its nerve in the shoot-out to seal the win.

Photo: 12.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

The Army Men made a flying start to this game. Kirill Kaprizov opened the scoring after 77 seconds and Alexander Popov doubled the lead in the fourth minute. CSKA went on to dominate the first period, firing in 19 shots at Jakub Kovar as Avtomobilist was left clinging on by its fingertips.

In the middle frame, though, everything changed. CSKA still saw plenty of the puck but struggled to get as many shots away. Then, in the space of 21 seconds, Avto drew level. Nigel Dawes reduced the arrears before Stepan Khripunov made it 2-2 midway through the game.

The third period was even and could not separate the teams. Overtime was similarly inconclusive, but the shoot-out turned on a goal from Dan Sexton as Avto took the points.

Nikontsev paces Spartak win

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

Spartak handed another heavy defeat to bottom club Dinamo Minsk, with two goals from Anatoly Nikontsev pacing a 5-1 win in Belarus.

In the first period, the Red-and-Whites were a model of scoring efficiency. Dinamo spent plenty of time on the attack, but Spartak used its chances wisely. Mikhail Yunkov opened the scoring in the eighth minute and Kaspars Daugavins doubled the lead late in the frame.

The middle session saw two more goals for the visitor, and brought young understudy goalie Nikita Tolopilo to the home net for his third appearance in the KHL. He was beaten for Nikontsev’s first of the evening, on the power play, and allowed the same player to score again on a 5-on-3 power play in the third. In between those goals, Ryan Spooner got a consolation effort for Minsk.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

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Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
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Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Sochi (Sochi) Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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