Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru
It’s all about playoff qualification, and today’s games were crucial in the East and West alike. Amur missed a chance to draw level on points with eighth-placed Kunlun when it went down at home to Dinamo Riga in a shoot-out. Nonetheless, the Tigers’ point gives it a slender advantage over Neftekhimik before the two contenders go head-to-head. In the West, HC Sochi was the big winner, getting an overtime verdict over Vityaz and denying its visitor the chance to book its post-season ticket. Torpedo picked up a point from an overtime loss at SKA, and has a four-point lead over the Leopards. SKA’s win moves it to within a point of league leader CSKA, and level with Ak Bars. The Eastern Conference leader missed the chance to take over the summit when it went down 3-6 at Spartak. Avtomobilist beat Sibir 3-1 in the day’s other game.

Dinamo off the bottom after Khabarovsk win

Amur Khabarovsk 1 Dinamo Riga 2 SO (1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Amur’s playoff push hit a bump when it suffered an unexpected loss at home to Dinamo Riga. The Latvians, meanwhile, moved off the foot of the KHL table after recording a second successive victory.

Amur’s recent run meant that victory today would have put it level on points with Kunlun Red Star, currently in eighth place. And the Tigers made a fast start when Vladislav Ushenin opened the scoring after five minutes. However, Dinamo responded midway through the first period thanks to Roberts Mamcics.

The rest of the game was goalless, although it was Dinamo that finished with more shots on goal (33-29 after overtime) and more time on the attack (11:37 against 8:36). In the shoot-out, Mikelis Redlihs was the only player to score, giving Riga the win.

Amur’s bonus point moves it one clear of Neftekhimik before it hosts the Nizhnekamsk team in back-to-back games next week. Whoever gets the upper hand in that mini-series is likely to secure itself a playoff place.

Avto gets a lift in playoff rehearsal

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 1 (0-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Fourth met fifth in the East in what looks like a playoff dress rehearsal. Sibir was looking to draw level with its host and continue its push to claim a top-four finish and home ice advantage at the start of the playoffs, while Avto – still without goalie Jakub Kovar – sought to recover some form in the final days of the regular season.

Photo: 20.02.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)

The first half of the game produced no goals, but the home team took a decisive lead with a double salvo just after the midway mark. Nigel Dawes opened the scoring and, barely one minute later, Alexander Kucheryavenko doubled the advantage.

Sibir pulled one back quickly when Danil Romantsev scored on the power play, but the visitor could not save the game. Peter Holland’s empty net goal wrapped up a morale-boosting win for the Motormen.

Spartak impressive against Eastern leader

Spartak Moscow 6 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (0-1, 3-2, 3-0)

Spartak did cross-town rival CSKA a big favor in the race to top the regular season table. Ak Bars came to Moscow looking for the win that would put it one point clear at the top, but Spartak halted the Eastern Conference leader in its tracks with a powerful third-period display.

Photo: 20.02.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Spartak (Moscow) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

The visitor held the lead three times in the early part of the game. Stanislav Galiyev opened the scoring midway through the first period as Ak Bars had much the better of the game. However, Spartak limited Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team to a single goal, and cancelled it out within seconds of the middle frame thanks to Alexander Khokhlachyov. Vladimir Galuzin quickly restored Ak Bars’ lead, only for Artyom Fyodorov to tie it up on the power play, then the teams traded PP tallies through Viktor Tikhonov and Ansel Galimov.

The pattern changed in the third period. Spartak’s Latvian double act gave the home team a decisive lead as Kaspars Daugavins and Martins Karsums scored two goals in 38 seconds early in the third. A short-handed effort from Galimov – his second of the game – opened a three-goal lead that Ak Bars could not recover.

Vital win keeps Sochi in the hunt

HC Sochi 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 2 OT (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 1-0)

Sochi’s playoff hopes are still alive thanks to an overtime win against Vityaz. The Podolsk team collects one point for its tie in regulation but is still not 100% sure of its own post season place after failing to finish the job beside the Black Sea.

With so much at stake for both teams, neither side was willing to commit too much going forward in the early stages. The first period produced few clear chances, but Sochi got in front thanks to Vyacheslav Leshchenko’s wrister in the 15th minute.

Vityaz responded early in the second with a power play goal from Alexander Semin and went on to have much the better of that period. However, it wasn’t until early in the third that the visitor went in front for the first time in the game when Alexei Makeyev and Jakub Jerabek broke forwards and the Czech defenseman put the puck in the net.

The lead was shortlived, however, and Denis Mosalyov tied the scores almost immediately when he scored from the slot after good work on the boards by Nikita Tochitsky. And when the action went into overtime, Sochi claimed a vital victory thanks to a Malte Stromwall breakaway goal. The Leopards still have work to do to break into the top eight, but they are still part of the equation in the Western Conference.

Torpedo makes its point, closes on top eight finish

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 OT (2-1, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Torpedo picked up a valuable point in its bid to secure a playoff spot. Despite going down in overtime here, David Nemirovsky’s team still holds a four-point lead over Sochi, with its sole remaining rival for a top-eight finish having just three games left to play.

In-form forward Jordan Schroeder gave Torpedo an early lead at SKA, grabbing his third goal in two games after just seven minutes of play. But the home team, still in with a chance of topping the regular season table, responded with efforts from Andrei Kuzmenko and Jarno Koskiranta to go into the intermission with a 2-1 lead.

The tying goal came in the 25th minute, with Paul Szczechura’s shot from the right redirected into the net by Mikhail Varnakov’s outstretched stick. The visitor went on to have the better of the second period, before SKA regained its momentum in the third. But there was no further scoring until Alexander Barabanov got the overtime winner, putting SKA one point behind table-topping CSKA.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

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Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Sochi (Sochi) Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod Region) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod Region)
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