Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Barys joined Ak Bars and Avangard in the Eastern Conference playoffs thanks to a 2-1 home win over Nefetkhimik. Avangard, meanwhile, was unable to draw level with Ak Bars at the top of the East after Vladimir Tkachyov’s overtime goal for SKA was all that separated the teams in St. Petersburg. Jokerit also had an overtime win thanks to two late goals from Niklas Jensen. Dynamo Moscow officially ended Dinamo Riga’s hopes of making the playoffs with a 5-2 win, Dinamo Minsk played a full part in Yekaterinburg before going down 5-6 in overtime at Avtomobilist. Sochi was too strong from Severstal and Traktor struck late to defeat Kunlun Red Star.

Barys clinches playoff place

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 (0-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Barys became the latest team to guarantee a place in post season after a win that dents Neftekhimik’s fading hopes of forcing its way into the top eight.

After a slow start, the Kazakh team went ahead in the second period thanks to captain Darren Dietz. A swift interchange of passes presented the defenseman with a shooting chance and he had the technique to beat Konstantin Barulin.

Neftekhimik tied the game early in the third thanks to Matt White. The American forward got his third goal in five games thanks to a great feed from Pavel Poryadin. However, Barys would not be denied. Anton Sagadeyev restored the home lead with 10 minutes to play and Andrei Skabelka’s team closed out the win to become the third team from the East to punch its ticket for post season.

Avtomobilist rocks in Yekaterinburg

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 6 Dinamo Minsk 5 OT (1-0, 2-2, 2-3, 1-0)

Anatoly Golyshev scored in the first minute of overtime to give Avtomobilist a hard-fought win over lowly Minsk. The Belarusians waved goodbye to even a theoretical chance of making the playoffs earlier this week but brought a real battle to the Urals in a high-scoring game.

The background to the game was inspired by the anniversary of the Soviet-era Svedlovsk Rock Club, where several big names of the Perestroika era got their break. The team donned a retro-uniform inspired by those years and looked to home-grown star Golyshev to be the frontman for the day. He duly obliged, opening the scoring in the first period with Pavel Datsyuk providing the accompaniment.

But the second period was less harmonious for the host. Twice, Dinamo found the net and twice Avto had to respond to take a one-goal lead into the third session. Geoff Platt’s power play goal against his former club made it 3-2.

The rhythm of the game was unchanged, though, as the teams traded goals. Whenever the host got ahead, the visitor found a reply, and two goals in the third from Mikhail Stefanovic ensured there would be an encore with the scores tied at 60 minutes. That extra session proved to be a crowd pleaser, though, with Datsyuk and Golyshev combining once again to get the winner after just 27 seconds.

Late goals give Traktor the edge

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 1 (1-0, 0-0, 2-1)

Traktor snapped a four-game losing streak with two late goals to beat Kunlun Red Star. The home team, currently coached by former Dragons head coach Vladimir Yurzinov, went ahead in the first period when a misplaced Tyler Wong clearance set up Tomas Hyka for the opening goal.

After that it was a game of few chances, with neither side really impressing. As the clock ran down, Traktor looked to be closing out the win until an unnecessary penalty gave Red Star a chance to tie the scores. Trevor Murphy potted his 10th of the season to make it 1-1 and, with less than four minutes to play, overtime seemed likely.

Lukas Sedlak had other ideas. The Czech produced a fine individual effort to restore Traktor’s lead and late in the game Yaroslav Kosov wrapped it up with an empty net goal.

Polunin inspires Loko to victory

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 5 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 0 (4-0, 1-0, 0-0)

Lokomotiv overpowered Torpedo to make it three wins in a row. The Railwaymen have picked up valuable victories over the teams closest to them in the Western Conference table and now look well placed to secure sixth place and avoid CSKA or SKA in the opening round of the playoffs.

Photo: 30.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) - Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)

This game was settled quickly. Loko fired home four unanswered goals in the first period. Nikita Cherepanov got things started in the fourth minute, firing in a shot from the blue line that deflected off a Torpedo stick on its way past Andrei Tikhomirov. Alexander Polunin potted two and, in between, Anton Lander was on the scoresheet as well. Polunin turned provider early in the second as Vladimir Tkachyov made it 5-0; Tikhomirov’s evening ended at the first intermission.

That was the end of the scoring. With the outcome settled, the one remaining question was whether Ilya Konovalov could collect his third shut-out of the season. The youngster made 22 saves to do precisely that.

Riga’s playoff push officially ends

Dynamo Moscow 5 Dinamo Riga 2 (1-1, 1-0, 3-1)

The Latvians came to Moscow on a seven-game skid and knew that any more dropped points would officially end their playoff prospects. Aware that the chances of a successful end to the season were slight, Dinamo continued to give its youngsters a chance with 18-year-old Janis Svanenbergs getting a spot on the first line in Moscow.

Photo: 30.01.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Dynamo (Moscow) - Dinamo (Riga)

The visitor wasn’t interested in making up the numbers here, though, and took an early lead thanks to Alexander Protapovich. However, it wasn’t long before Igor Polygalov tied the game and Andrei Alexeyev put the host in front at the start of the second period.

Any doubts about the outcome were resolved early in the third. Riga had a goal ruled out for offside on a coach’s challenge, then Moscow scored twice in three minutes through Teemu Pulkkinen and Dmitry Moiseyev. Mikelis Redlihs pulled one back for Riga midway through the last but it was left to Dmitrij Jaskin to have the final word.

Jensen’s double saves Jokerit

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Jokerit Helsinki 4 OT (0-2, 3-0, 0-1, 0-1)

For the second time in four games, Jokerit needed a late tying goal before securing an overtime victory. This time, Metallurg was the victim, and the dropped point does little to ease the anxiety for Ilya Vorobyov as his team looks to get over the line and into the playoffs.

However, at the first intermission, Magnitka’s problems were still greater. Jokerit started well and jumped to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Teemu Eronen and Sakari Manninen. Although there were relatively few shots at either net, the Finns displayed plenty of attacking intent as Metallurg struggled to get a foothold in the game.

That all changed in the second period. Metallurg raised its game, spent much more time in the Jokerit end and reaped the reward with three goals. Brandon Kozun and Denis Parshin tied the game, then Sergei Mozyakin read a wild bounce better than anyone else to grab the puck and take it down the ice to make it 3-2 late in the frame.

Jokerit struggled for much of the third period but late in the game, Niklas Jensen was getting more and more shooting chances. Finally, one of them paid off: the Dane’s powerful shot from mid-range was enough to beat Vasily Demchenko and tie the scores with two minutes to play. Then, in the first minute of overtime, Jensen struck again to give the Finns a fourth successive victory.

Samonov denies Avangard, Tkachyov grabs the winner

SKA St. Petersburg 1 Avangard Omsk 0 OT (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Goaltender Alexander Samonov frustrated Avangard in this battle between the teams lying second in their respective conferences. He blanked the Eastern Conference contender over the course of the game, laying the foundations for an overtime winner courtesy of Vladimir Tkachyov in the last minute.

Samonov began the season as one of the key figures in the sensational start from Vityaz before the lure of playing in Petersburg took him north. Since then, the 24-year-old has made his international debut but has also had to contend with reduced game time as he competes with Magnus Hellberg for the starting role. Today, he got his chance and made the most of it as he blunted the Hawks’ talons.

However, Avangard did a solid job of stopping SKA’s offense as well. In addition to 28 saves from Igor Bobkov, the visitor blocked 26 shots over the course of the game. That secured a point, and keeps the race for top spot in the East alive, but Bob Hartley’s team was unable to draw level with Ak Bars after Tkachyov finally broke the deadlock on 64:37.

Stromwall’s double sinks Severstal

HC Sochi 3 Severstal Cherepovets 0 (0-0, 1-0, 2-0)

Both of these teams knew that their hopes of making the playoffs relied on others dropping points, but Sochi stirred itself after two losses to keep itself on the fringes of the race. Two goals from Swedish forward Malte Stromwall made the difference, while Ivan Nalimov picked up a shut-out.

Nalimov was most impressive in the first period as Severstal took the game to its host. The visitor led the shot count 12-2 but was unable to solve the goalie. In the middle frame, Sochi showed far more intent, but the opening goal came in the 39th minute when the home team got its first power play of the evening. A Swedish combination saw Robert Rosen and David Rundblad assist as Stromwall found the net.

Yury Alexandrov made it 2-0 early in the third, and more penalty trouble saw Severstal down to three men for a time. A fourth player had barely got back onto the ice when Stromwall claimed his second power play goal of the evening to wrap up the win.

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