Andy Potts Andy Potts
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A 3-1 win at home Neftekhimik was enough to get Metallurg into the playoffs in the East and leave the Tatars looking ahead to a nervous conclusion to the regular season. Elsewhere, CSKA thrashed Dinamo Minsk 8-1, but saw Vyacheslav Gretsky – unlikely All-Star – get his first goal in the league. Jokerit impressed in a shoot-out win at Avangard and Barys won at home to Salavat Yulaev.

Barys rallies to beat Ufa

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Barys came from behind to defeat Salavat Yulaev and keep up the pressure on Avangard in the race for the Chernyshev Division title. Friday’s win lifted the Kazakhs to the top of their division, but only for a few hours before Avangard played later in the day.

The visitor, missing Nikita Soshnikov, Vyacheslav Solodukhin and Grigory Panin through illness, got an early lead thanks to a short-handed goal from Artyom Sergeyev. Once ahead, Ufa looked to slow the game down and hold on to that advantage, working hard to limit the opportunities for Barys to attack.

However, a power play chance in the second period saw Barys draw level. Nikita Mikhailis got the goal, although few in the arena could work out just how his shot from a tight angle, clearly seen by goalie Juha Metsola, somehow squeezed between the netminder and the near post when there seemed to be no gap.

Salavat continued to have the better of the game, but fell behind early in the third when Curtis Valk was given far too much time and space in the Ufa zone and duly took advantage to make it 2-1. At the other end, Barys soaked up the pressure but faced few dangerous moments for goalie Eddie Pasquale.

Metallurg secures its playoff place

Metallurg Mangitogorsk 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1)

It’s not been the easiest of regular season campaigns for Metallurg but the two-time Gagarin Cup winner made sure of its playoff spot at last thanks to victory over Neftekhimik. For the visitor, this was a missed opportunity to move ahead of Amur into ninth place before the two rivals for a top-eight finish go head-to-head in successive games.

Photo: 21.02.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)

When the present proves challenging, it’s tempting to draw inspiration from the past. And so, Magnitka staged its first ever retro-game, recreating the sights, sounds and fashions of the 1990s – complete with old-school video tapes whirring in the foyer – and evoking memories of the time when the team first rose to the summit of Russian hockey.

On the ice, things were hard work. Neftekhimik is also in the thick of this playoff battle and was determined not to roll over against one of its key rivals. However, a gritty first period ended with Tomas Filippi winning a face-off and setting up Andrej Nestrasil for the opening goal of the game.

The middle stanza was played in a similar fashion but, once again, the home team got the only goal. This time Filippi struck on the power play to double the advantage midway through the session. Neftekhimik gave itself hope in the 56th minute when Pavel Kulikov made it 1-2, but it took just 17 seconds for Brandon Kozun to restore the host’s two-goal advantage after a trademark defense-splitting assist from Sergei Mozyakin.

Army Men impress, Gretsky gets first goal

CSKA Moscow 8 Dinamo Minsk 1 (0-0, 3-0, 5-1)

Top met bottom in Moscow – and the result followed the form guide. The home side overcame a sluggish start to take control of the game in the second period and finished with a fourth victory over the Bison this season.

Photo: 21.02.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Dinamo (Minsk)

The first period was goalless, albeit thanks largely to some good goaltending from Danny Taylor as CSKA dominated the play without finding a breakthrough. Early in the second, Mikhail Grigorenko put the host in front, and two goals in the final minute of the frame saw Anton Slepyshev and Linden Vey take the game away from Dinamo.

That swift scoring continued into the third period with Grigorenko getting his second of the game 17 seconds after the restart and Kirill Kaprizov adding a fifth just 11 seconds later. After that, the scoring slowed down. But there was a special moment midway through the third for this year’s unlikely All-Star, Vyacheslav Gretsky. #99 potted his first KHL goal with a fine individual rush culminating in a well-placed wrister from the left-hand face-off circle.

His celebrations were quickly halted when Kaprizov got his second of the game and Andrei Svetlakov added a seventh. That was the end of Taylor’s evening as Mikhail Karnaukhov came into the game for the last 10 minutes. He was beaten just once, when Konstantin Okulov added an eighth to complete an emphatic CSKA victory.

Oksanen gives Jokerit a shoot-out win

Avangard Omsk 1 Jokerit Helsinki 2 SO (1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

A shoot-out success for Jokerit sees the Finns open a six-point gap over Dynamo and all-but secure third place in the Western Conference. For Avangard, meanwhile, a single point keeps it on top of the Chernyshev Division, but only one point ahead of Barys.

Photo: 21.02.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avangard (Omsk) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

This was an evenly-matched game throughout. Midway through the first period Jokerit ran into penalty trouble and Avangard needed just seven seconds to turn a 5-on-3 advantage into a goal for Slava Voynov. The lead might have been greater: Semyon Koshelev fired against the post with the goal at his mercy but by the end of the second Jokerit tied the game when David Sklenicka stepped up from the point to fire home a loose puck in the Avangard zone.

Jokerit might have won in the third. The visitor took the game to Avangard, creating several great chances around Igor Bobkov’s net. Closest of all was Peter Regin, who, like Koshelev, was denied by the inside of the post with a couple of minutes left on the clock. At the other end, Sven Andrighetto went close in the final seconds, but the game was destined to go to overtime.

The Finns dominated the extras but could not find a way past Bobkov. Then, the shoot-out became a sudden-death duel between Ahti Oksanen and Sergei Shumakov, with the Finn securing the verdict for the visitor.

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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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