Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Niklas Jensen extended his productive streak to 11 games with the opening goal in Jokerit’s win at Vityaz, but the game was dominated by a stormy third period that saw two home players ejected for high hits. Elsewhere, Sibir and Torpedo picked up important wins in their bid to reach the playoffs, defeating Kunlun Red Star and HC Sochi respectively. Top played bottom in the Western Conference, and both CSKA and SKA eased to comfortable victories over the Dinamo duo of Minsk and Riga respectively. In the East, it was a different story as leader Ak Bars needed a shoot-out to get past Amur. Traktor won the South Ural derby against Metallurg, Barys got the better of a high-scoring game against Salavat Yulaev.

Amur pushes the leader all the way

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 3 SO (1-1, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

The home team made a great start and took the lead in the fourth minute when Igor Rudenkov rifled home from the face-off spot. Amur then thought it had increased its lead when Anton Lazarev stuffed the puck into the net, but the goal was whistled off due to Denis Golubev’s foul on visiting goalie Timur Bilyalov.

And the Tigers had cause to regret that moments later as Ak Bars tied the game with a freakish goal. Mikhail Glukhov was the scorer, sending the puck looping over Marek Langhamer’s shoulder after it bounced up following a face-off. The Czech goalie was left baffled; the visiting forward was gleeful as his opportunistic effort paid rich rewards.

The second period was goalless, but Ak Bars moved ahead 34 seconds into the third with another goal that Langhamer would like to have back. Justin Azevedo’s shot from the point was nothing unusual and there was little traffic between the puck and the net, but the goalie reacted late and was beaten by the Canadian sniper. That was Langhamer’s last action of the game as Evgeny Alikin came off the bench to replace him.

Alikin later faced a similar test from Azevedo, but made a comfortable glove save in the last minute. That ensured the game went to overtime after Michal Jordan’s short-handed goal tied the scores midway through the third. And Alikin was on his game early in the extras when Kirill Petrov burst through with a chance to win it for the visitor. However, not even Alikin’s efforts could save his team in the shoot-out as successful attempts from Azevedo and youngster Dmitry Voronkov brought Ak Bars the win.

Sibir fights back again

Kunlun Red Star 4 Sibir Novosibirsk 5 SO (1-1, 0-1, 3-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Sibir made a second big fightback in successive days to complete its trip to China with two victories. Nikolai Zavarukhin’s team recovered a 2-4 deficit in the last minutes before winning in a shoot-out. Yesterday, Sibir rallied from 0-3 to take a 4-3 verdict in regulation.

Juuso Puustinen kick-started Tuesday’s revival, scoring in the 51st minute to make it 3-4. Five minutes later, Ilya Morozov tied the game and sent it to overtime. However, the danger wasn’t over for Sibir, which had to kill a penalty during the extras as Red Star went close to winning it.

In the shoot-out, Harri Sateri continued his impressive form from overtime and Yegor Milovzorov added to his earlier goal to win it for the visitor.

Earlier in the game, Red Star’s Devante Smith-Pelly produced an eye-catching cameo at the start of the third period. He scored twice and had an assist for Hunter Shinkaruk as the home team turned a 1-2 deficit into a 4-2 lead in the space of seven minutes. But his efforts weren’t enough to earn the win.

Shestakov’s double gives Barys the edge

Barys Nur-Sultan 5 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 (2-1, 1-1, 2-1)

Barys left it late before seeing off Salavat Yulaev in this Chernyshev Division clash in Kazakhstan. It took two goals in the last five minutes to settle the outcome, with Arkady Shestakov potting the game winner before Atte Ohtamaa made the points safe a minute later.

A high-scoring encounter got off to a fast start as the teams traded goals inside the first nine minutes. Dustin Boyd got Barys in front in the fifth minute, but Vladislav Kartayev soon had the visitor back on level terms. Boyd’s second of the game ensured that his team took a one-goal lead into the intermission and Shestakov extended that lead early in the second.

The Ufa bench responded with a challenge, claiming offside. The video ruled otherwise and Salavat Yulaev took a bench minor while also replacing starting goalie Andrei Kareyev with Juha Metsola. Maybe that flurry of activity was a form of creative chaos; Alexander Kadeikin produced a short-handed goal during that PK and the game was very much alive.

At the start of the third, Salavat Yulaev tied it up thanks to a goal from Vyacheslav Solodukhin. However, the visitor could not keep its momentum going and fell to those late goals as Barys continues to bid for leadership of the division.

Traktor upsets its neighbor

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 (0-0, 2-1, 0-0)

The South Ural derby is always a big game for both teams, regardless of the tournament standings. This year, Traktor’s hopes of making the playoffs are already faint, while Metallurg is in the thick of a battle to secure a good position in the top eight. However, in Chelyabinsk, the home team was not about to do its neighbor any favors.

This was a tight game from the start. In the first period there were no goals, but Traktor delivered a fine display of defensive discipline to limit Magnitka’s scoring chances. Then, early in the second, the host got a break. Vitaly Menshikov’s hard work on the penalty kill set up a two-man break. Czech duo Lukas Sedlak and Tomas Hyka bore down on Vasily Koshechkin’s net; Hyka converted the chance.

Metallurg equalized in the 27th minute through a powerful shot from Maksim Matushkin, but Traktor regained the lead midway through the frame. Andrew Calof battled for possession in the corner before setting up Artyom Mikheyev for a one-timer that went inside Koshechkin’s near post.

In the third, Traktor maintained its defensive rigor. By the end of the game, it had blocked 21 shots and fewer than half of Metallurg’s 60 attempts found their way to Stanislav Galimov. And the home side came close to adding a third late on when Vyacheslav Osnovin dinged one off the crossbar.

New Year upturn gives Steelmen hope

Severstal Cherepovets 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 (0-0, 1-0, 2-1)

Severstal picked up an impressive victory over Avtomobilist to keep its playoff push alive in the Western Conference. Since the start of the year, Andrei Razin’s team has won four out of six games. While a push for the top eight is unlikely – there’s still an eight-point gap to Torpedo – this sudden spurt of form at least offers hope.

Tuesday’s game was a slow starter. In the first period the teams managed just 14 shots between them and the action was close to the halfway point before Dmitry Markovin gave the host the lead. Avtomobilist thought it had an equalizer in the second period, but after a bench challenge the video review whistled off the attempt for goalie interference. With Severstal enjoying much the better of the middle frame, it felt like justice was served when the home team went into the second intermission with the lead.

Igor Geraskin made it 2-0 early in the third period, but Nikita Tryamkin hit back at once to keep Avto in the game. The visitor battled hard to complete the comeback, but was scuppered in the 56th minute when Sergei Monakhov added a third. Bogdan Yakimov’s assist on that goal takes him to five points in six games and extends his productive streak to four.

Vital victory for Torpedo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 HC Sochi 1 OT (1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)

This game was Sochi’s big chance to put itself right back in contention for a playoff place. The Leopards lay in ninth place at the start of play and knew that victory would put them within three points of Torpedo in the top eight.

However, it was the home team that came away with the verdict, albeit after a hard-fought encounter went to overtime. The first period went to plan for Torpedo, with its defense blunting Sochi’s efforts and Sergei Zborovsky getting the only goal of the session. It was only the second goal of the 22-year-old D-man’s KHL career: his first came back in November in a big win over Vityaz.

In the second period, Sochi recovered. The visitor found a way through the Torpedo defense and tied the game on a goal from Dmitry Lugin. After that, though, neither team could find a winner in regulation. Torpedo even had a spell of 5-on-3 in the third but was unable to break down the opposition.

That took the game to overtime and the home team got the verdict thanks to a Daniil Ilyin goal. Two valuable points give the home team a six-point advantage in the race for a playoff berth.

Straightforward win for CSKA

CSKA Moscow 5 Dinamo Minsk 1 (1-0, 1-0, 3-1)

These two teams are at opposite ends of the KHL table and when they met the outcome followed the form guide. CSKA enjoyed a predictably comfortable victory, although it was only in the third period that the Army Men built up a big scoreline.

Photo: 14.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Dinamo (Minsk)

The home team dominated the first period but had just one goal to show for it. Artyom Blazhiyevsky struck midway through the frame, young forward Maxim Sorkin’s assist was the second of his KHL career and both have come against Minsk.

In the middle frame, the visitor was far more involved and even managed to outshoot CSKA 12-7. However, Kirill Kaprizov got the only goal and a 2-0 lead looked to be enough to seal the win. Dinamo delivered a warning at the start of the third as Dmitry Znakharenko halved the deficit, but the Army Men responded with goals from Maxim Shalunov and Anton Slepyshev to take the game away. Konstantin Okulov applied the finishing touch late on.

SKA too strong for Riga

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Dinamo Riga 0 (0-0, 1-0, 2-0)

As in Moscow, so in Petersburg. Here, too, there was a clash between a leader and a struggler and once again the game went to form.

True, Riga produced some stiff resistance early on. The first period saw the visitor stifle the game, smother SKA’s offense and even created slightly more of the few chances on offer. But SKA’s power proved too much. The second period was one-way traffic, with Dinamo holding on until Jori Lehtera’s 35th minute goal broke the deadlock. Lehtera joined Vladimir Tkachyov on an odd-man rush and finished off his team-mate’s pass to open the scoring.

Tkachyov then scored himself on the power play midway through the third. The goal came just one second after the end of a 5-on-3 advantage, and Dinamo was still recovering from the blow when Evgeny Ketov went clean through with only Janis Voris to beat and made it 3-0 13 seconds later.

Jensen keeps on scoring

Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Jokerit Helsinki 3 (0-1, 1-0, 1-2)

It took Niklas Jensen just 70 seconds to extend his productive streak to 11 games, but Vityaz gave Jokerit plenty to think about throughout this meeting. The Finns took the verdict thanks to third-period goals from Mikko Lehtonen in a tempestuous encounter that totalled 81 minutes in penalties.

Photo: 14.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

Jensen’s opener was disappointingly straightforward for Vityaz: the Danish forward skated through the middle, met little resistance, and fired past Alexander Ezhov. However, that did not herald a goal glut. It wasn’t until the dying seconds of the middle frame that Vityaz drew level thanks to Alexei Makeyev.

Indeed, the game wasn’t really going anywhere fast until midway through the third. Then it all burst into life. Evgeny Artyukhin was ejected after a check to the head, and Lehtonen duly scored on the power play. Seconds later, Makeyev delivered another reckless hit and joined Artyukhin in the locker room. This time, a brawl broke out between Igor Golovkov and Veli-Matti Savinainen as the Finn took exception to the rough stuff on offer. Once order was restored, Lehtonen again scored on the power play.

Vityaz battled to the end, and Joonas Nattinen set up a tense finish when he scored with 59 seconds on the clock. But Jokerit held on for an immediate recovery after Saturday’s loss against Severstal.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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