Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The big game of the day saw CSKA get its fourth win in five games against SKA this season. The visitor saw exciting young prospect Vasily Podkolzin get his first KHL goal, but CSKA won it thanks to Sergei Tolchinsky. At the top of the East, Ak Bars silenced Dynamo’s offense to win 2-0 in Moscow, but Avangard had a tougher time at Vityaz before winning a shoot-out. Salavat Yulaev’s win over Admiral gives it some breathing space in the Eastern playoff race, Neftekhimik falls further behind after losing in a shoot-out at home to Avtomobilist and Sibir’s winning streak continues at home to Traktor. Kunlun Red Star also gained a useful result at home to Amur. Dinamo Minsk belied its lowly league position to win at home to Spartak, and Torpedo got a third victory of the season against Lokomotiv.

First goal for Magee

Kunlun Red Star 4 Amur Khabarovsk 2 (1-1, 2-0, 1-1)

Kunlun Red Star picked up another valuable win in its playoff push, defeating Amur 4-2 in Beijing. The game saw significant contributions from two players who came straight off the long-haul flight from the All-Star Game in Moscow at the weekend, and a first KHL goal for Dragons forward Brandon Magee.

The first goal went to Amur, and it was scored by Hynek Zohorna, fresh from representing the Tigers at the All-Star Weekend. However, Kunlun tied it up before the intermission on a power play goal from Hunter Shinkaruk, who converted a feed from Brandon Yip, the home team’s All-Star. That was the first of three assists for Yip as he shrugged off the jetlag to deliver a game-winning display.

Yip’s next helper came on another power play tally as Gilbert Brule put the home team ahead midway through the game. Then we saw Magee, 25, score his first goal for the club after being promoted from KRS-BSU of the VHL back in December. Early in the third, Jake Chelios made it 4-1 with Yip involved again and a comfortable victory seemed certain.

However, Amur always posed an attacking threat in this game and home goalie Simon Hrubec faced 45 shots over the course of the evening. He was beaten for only the second time late on when Pavel Turbin scored in a 6-on-3 power play situation, but time ran out before the Tigers could seriously unnerve the home team.

Sibir makes it six in a row

Sibir Novosibirsk 5 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 (2-0, 1-2, 2-0)

Sibir extended its winning streak to six games and opened a 10-point over ninth-placed Admiral as the Siberians look to secure their playoff place. But this game against a Traktor team languishing near the foot of the Eastern Conference was only settled by two late goals after the visitor battled back from 0-2 to tie the game in the second period.

The first frame was all about the host, with Alexander Loginov and Juuso Puustinen getting the goals to put Sibir in control. After the intermission, Sibir dominated more of the play but found itself caught out twice as the visitor hit back. Czech duo Tomas Hyka and Lukas Sedlak both found the net to make it 2-2.

Crucially, though, Traktor could not make it to the intermission with the scores tied. Alexander Sharov restored Sibir’s lead before the interval. The visitor refused to lie down and created several dangerous odd-man rushes in the third, but Yegor Milovzorov struck in the 56th minute to put the home team 4-2 up. An empty net goal from Dmitry Sayustov finished the job.

Important win for Salavat Yulaev

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 Admiral Vladivostok 0 (0-0, 2-0, 0-0)

In Ufa, there were genuine concerns that Salavat Yulaev might not make this season’s playoffs. Nikolai Tsulygin’s team lies eighth in the East and went into this game just three points clear of its opponent.

However, Admiral’s own recent form has been patchy, with just one win in its previous four. The victory, though, was a 5-1 thrashing of Ak Bars.

In the event, the game turned into something of a goaltending duel Juha Metsola and Alexei Krasikov were on top of everything in the first period, but after the intermission the home team upped its offense and began to dominate proceedings. That turned into goals, first Dmitry Kugryshev then Nikita Soshnikov, and the 2-0 margin was enough to take the win. The third period saw Metsola busier again but Admiral could not find a way past the Finn and Ufa moved up one place and enjoys a little more breathing space in that race for the playoffs.

Avto edges past Neftekhimik

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 SO (0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Neftekhimik parted company with captain Stepan Zakharchuk prior to this game, and Vitaly Atyushov, the oldest player to score in the KHL, took over the ‘C’ as the team looked for one last push to get into the playoff picture. However, the change of personnel did not bring a change of fortune as the home team slipped to a fifth loss in six games after going down in a shoot-out.

Neftekhimik had slightly the better of the first period and opened the scoring early in the second thanks to Matt White, but a power play goal from Denis Bodrov tied the game in the 35th minute. That was the end of the scoring in regulation and overtime saw Avtomobilist frustrated by Neftekhimik’s penalty kill as the game went to a shoot-out. The visitor took the win in the end thanks to successful attempts from fit-again Pavel Datsyuk and his strike partner Georgy Belousov.

Torpedo too strong for Loko again

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Torpedo defeated its Volga rival for the third time this season, moving ahead of Loko in the table on the back of two goals in the third period here.

The home side was handed a boost with the return to fitness of Anton Volchenkov and Sergei Goncharuk, while Mike Pelino reshaped his roster extensively and left just one line intact from the team that lost in a shoot-out at Barys in its previous outing.

Lokomotiv took the initiative in the first period, leading the shot count 15-7, but it was Torpedo that went in front midway through the frame thanks to a goal from Artyom Alyayev. The second period was almost a mirror image, with Torpedo having the bulk of the attacking play but allowing the only goal of the session when Vladimir Tkachyov scored on the power play in the 31st minute.

However, the host settled it in the third. Youngster Andrei Belevich made it 2-1 early in the session, potting his sixth goal of the season. Then Goncharuk added a third as 18-year-old Denis Pochivalov got his first KHL point with an assist.

Dadonov on the mark again in Minsk

Dinamo Minsk 4 Spartak Moscow 3 (1-1, 2-1, 1-1)

Dinamo ended a three-game losing streak with victory over Spartak, avenging two heavy losses in the last two meetings between the clubs and ensuring that both teams will finish the season with two wins apiece in their head-to-head meetings.

At the end of a season of struggle, Minsk gave its home fans a boost with an early goal from Igor Martynov, but soon found itself following a familiar script as goals either side of the first intermission saw Spartak move ahead. Ilya Zubov and Robin Hanzl found the net for the visitor.

However, Dinamo hit back to regain the lead going into the second intermission. Shane Prince tied the scores, then Evgeny Dadonov got his second in two games to make it 3-2. The 27-year-old from Vitebsk has a famous namesake, but the Belarusian Dadonov is making the most of a second chance in the KHL, six years after he found himself on the fringes of the national team back in 2013/14.

Alexander Kitarov extended the lead with a short-handed effort early in the third period and Spartak’s efforts to recover proved to be in vein, despite a power play goal from Kaspars Daugavins to reduce the arrears with seven minutes left.

Kazan blunts Dynamo’s offense

Dynamo Moscow 0 Ak Bars Kazan 2 (0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Dynamo’s rise in the Western Conference relies heavily on the most potent line in the KHL, while Ak Bars leads the East with the best defensive record in that section. On this occasion, though, the immovable object of the visitor’s defense prevailed over the irresistible force of Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin.

Photo: 21.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Dynamo (Moscow) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

The key to this win was disciplined defense. Dynamo was limited to just 21 shots on goal and while Jaskin led the way with four of them, he was unable to find a way past Adam Reideborn in the Kazan net. At the other end, Alexander Yeryomenko was beaten early on by Emil Galimov only to be reprieved by the video. Later in the first period, though, there was no way back as Stanislav Galiyev opened the scoring.

The middle frame was goalless, even though the visitor stepped up its offensive play in a bid to keep Dynamo’s dangermen occupied at the other end of the ice. The game was settled in the third when Ak Bars got on the power play and Kirill Petrov got his 10th goal of the season. Assists came from Justin Azevedo, among the points for the fourth game in a row, and Matt Frattin, recording his 100th point in the KHL.

Tolchinsky’s double sinks SKA

CSKA Moscow 3 SKA St. Petersburg 2 (0-0, 1-2, 2-0)

Two goals in less than a minute at the start of the third period turned this game around and saw CSKA collect its fourth win in five editions of the Army Derby this season. SKA led 2-1 at the second intermission, but Konstantin Okulov and Sergei Tolchinsky delivered quickfire strikes to see the home team on the way to victory.

Photo: 21.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

The game began with both goalies impressing. The opening frame was goalless largely due to the hard work of Swedish duo Lars Johansson and Magnus Hellberg. The closest we came to a goal was an Andrei Kuzmenko effort that dinged the CSKA crossbar; Evgeny Ketov also fluffed a good chance for the visitor.

Midway through the second period, the opening goal arrived. It was notable for two reasons. First, SKA opened the scoring in an Army derby for the first time this season. Second, it was scored by Vasily Podkolzin, one of the brightest prospects in Russian hockey, who claimed his first goal in the KHL. The session ended with two more goals in quick succession. First, Tolchinsky tied the game with a power play effort, forcing the puck home after a flurry of shots. But almost immediately SKA responded. After allowing a goal on one PK, the visitor scored on its next with Maxim Karpov’s raid restoring the lead 17 seconds before the intermission.

The penalty, of course, continued into the third period and CSKA was able to get its second power play goal of the night when Okulov tied the scores with a shot that bounced in off Lukas Bengtsson’s leg. Within a minute, the home team was ahead. SKA dithered as it tried to clear its zone, Tolchinsky seized the puck and unleashed a deadly shot beyond Hellberg’s glove to take the verdict for the Muscovites.

Barys maintains its winning streak in Finland

Jokerit Helsinki 1 Barys Nur-Sultan 5 (1-1, 0-1, 0-3)

In recent years, Barys has something of a hex on Jokerit. The Kazakhs reeled off five consecutive wins over the Finns since losing 0-2 at home on Feb. 1, 2017. And today’s encounter in Helsinki stretched the streak to six as Andrei Skabelka’s team continues to vie for the lead in the Chernyshev Division.

The final scoreline was emphatic, but it’s fair to note that three late goals took this meeting away from Jokerit. The earlier action was rather more even. Barys got an early lead when Corban Knight redirected a Darren Dietz shot but an even first period ended with Jesse Joensuu tying the scores.

There were few chances in the middle frame, but Nikita Mikhailis found the net to restore the visitor’s lead. Arkady Shestakov made it 3-1 with five to play, scoring a fine individual goal, and further goals from Linus Videll and Dustin Boyd took the final score to 5-1.

Beck gives Avangard victory at Vityaz

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 Avangard Omsk 2 SO (0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Taylor Beck got Avangard’s goal in regulation then returned to claim the shoot-out winner as the Hawks stayed level on points with Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars. It’s also eight wins from nine games for Bob Hartley’s team, which is hitting a good run of form as the season nears the closing stretch.

Photo: 21.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Avangard (Omsk)

Beck’s opener flew into the net off his skate in the last second of an unusual opening period. Avangard dominated the stats: it topped the shot count 11-1 and had a 22-4 advantage in attempts, but the teams had an almost equal share of possession. The home team might even have taken the lead when Alexander Semin was denied by the post, instead it fell behind when Beck’s goal was awarded after a video review.

Vityaz responded early in the second through Pekka Jormakka but Ilya Ezhov made several big saves to keep his team on level terms. And it stayed that way until the shoot-out moved into its sudden death phase. Semin had two attempts for the host and scored one, Beck tried twice for Avangard and succeeded both times.

Sochi edges valuable win in Riga

Dinamo Riga 1 HC Sochi 2 (0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 0-1)

Dinamo ended a two-game scoring blank to pick up a point at home to playoff chasing HC Sochi, but the Latvians fell in overtime as the Leopards kept their hopes of a top-eight finish alive.

Sochi can afford few slips in the closing weeks of the season if it is to make up an eight-point gap to the playoff places, but the visitor made a sluggish start in Riga. Dinamo shaded the first period in most areas, but still allowed the only goal of the frame when Dmitry Lugin scored midway through.

The middle frame was dominated by Dinamo, outshooting Sochi 17-4. The host was helped by a string of minor penalties, but suffered a blow late in the session when Andris Dzerins was assessed a game misconduct penalty. Dinamo then killed two penalties early in the third before Alexander Protapovich conjured an equalizer and took the game into overtime.

The extras were brief, though. Sochi started on the front foot and Swedish defenseman David Rundblad fired home the winner after 43 seconds. It was the former SKA man’s first goal since his move to Sochi.

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