Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Monday’s big games saw the two Conference leaders entertain their closest rivals — and both got decisive wins. Ak Bars blanked Avtomobilist to win 3-0, helped by two goals from Alexander Burmistrov. And CSKA halted Lokomotiv’s surge up the Western Conference table, winning 3-1 in Moscow. At the other end of the table, Dinamo Riga’s 12-game losing streak came to an end with victory over Kunlun Red Star. The Chinese team, bottom of the Eastern Conference, is now on a six-game skid of its own. Traktor climbs to third in the East after three goals in less than three minutes brought a first-ever victory at Jokerit, SKA rallied to beat Salavat Yulaev in overtime, Spartak won at Vityaz for the second time in three days and Dynamo Moscow was too strong for Neftekhimik.

Avto silenced in Kazan

Ak Bars Kazan 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 (2-0, 0-0, 1-0)

The game of the day came in Kazan, where Avtomobilist was looking to knock Ak Bars off the top of the Eastern Conference. However, the home team produced a fine display of controlled hockey to shut out Bill Peters’ men and increase its lead over the chasing pack.

Photo: 16.11.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Ak Bars (Kazan) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

With high stakes on the ice, it didn’t take long for both teams to get worked up. The game was less than a minute old when Artyom Lukyanov and Sergei Zborovsky came to blows. The Ak Bars forward incurred the wrath of his opponent after a hard hit on Vyacheslav Litovchenko; Avtomobilist got on the power play when Lukoyanov took a boarding minor in addition to the 2+2 handed out to both parties for roughing.

The Avtomobilist power play was short-lived, though, with Dan Sexton taking a tripping minor soon afterwards to put the teams in to 4-on-4 hockey. Once back at full strength, the home team opened the scoring. Lukoyanov continued his influential start to the game by firing in a shot that Jakub Kovar found too hot to handle. The puck dropped for Mikhail Glukhov and the Conference leader had the advantage in this showdown. A minute later, the home team had a power play as well and Alexander Burmistrov wired a wrister into the far corner to double the lead.

Instead of additional offense in the second period, Avtomobilst found itself locked down by some disciplined home defense. The visitor managed just four shots at Adam Reideborn as Ak Bars closed down the play. Only in the final session did the Motormen start to put pressure on the Sweden, but there was no way through. Instead, Burmistrov wrapped up the win with his second goal of the night late in the game, and came close to completing a hat-trick in the last minute when he fired straight at Jakub Kovar after Glukhov’s set-up.

Spartak too strong for Vityaz again

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 Spartak Moscow 3 (0-1, 0-1, 1-1)

Vityaz must be getting tired of the sight of Lukas Radil. Spartak’s Czech forward scored twice here in Saturday’s emphatic 7-3 win, and picked up in the same vein at the start of Monday’s match-up. Radil opened the scoring in the third minute as the Red-and-Whites set off in search of a repeat victory.

Photo: 16.11.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Spartak (Moscow)

The home team had a great to chance level in the second period, but Artyom Ivanyuzhenkov was taken out when bearing down on goal and Justin Danforth failed to convert the resultant penalty shot. A couple of minutes later, Sergei Shirokov made it 2-0 — a bitter pill for Vityaz, which outshot Spartak 13-3 in the middle frame.

Shirokov continued his bid to replace Radil as tormentor-in-chief. A Spartak power play midway through the third saw the forward get his second of the game and took the game away from the home team. Vityaz pulled a goal back with five to play when Alexander Dergachyov found the net, but Spartak closed out a second win in three days in Podolsk.

Lokomotiv can’t keep up with the Army Men

CSKA Moscow 3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0)

Kazan wasn’t the only place where the high-flyers would clash. In Moscow, the two teams with the best records in the West were going head to head. CSKA went into Monday’s game three points clear of Lokomotiv, but the Railwaymen were on a fine run of form. In the last 14 games, Andrei Skabelka’s team had lost just two — both at the hands of Avtomobilist. The Army Men could not match that for consistency, losing Moscow derbies on either side of the international break, but came into the game buoyed by a 7-0 hammering of Sochi.

Photo: 16.11.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. CSKA (Moscow) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

And the home side was the first to show here. Once Loko’s fast start had burned out, CSKA went to the other end and opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Mario Kempe screened Eddie Pasquale in the visitor’s net and Klas Dahlbeck’s shot found the target. That was the first shot on target from CSKA and at the midway mark in the first period it was still the only time Pasquale had been called into action. Neither side was able to create many opportunities as defenses dominated the play.

Lokomotiv began to pose more of a threat in the second period, outshooting the home team and forcing defenseman Artyom Blazhiyevsky off the ice when he suffered an injury blocking a shot at Lars Johansson’s net. However, it wasn’t until the last minute of the session that the visitor finally got on the scoreboard thanks to Yegor Korshkov. By then, though, CSKA already had two: Mat Robinson got his second goal in two games following his return to health.

Early in the third period, Anton Slepyshev found himself at the center of events. First, he saw his penalty shot saved by Pasquale, then he scored from open play after Kempe’s wonderful pass turned defense into offense. That sealed the win and robbed Lokomotiv of the chance to put real pressure on the Army Men at the top of the table.

SKA recovers from 0-2, wins in OT

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 OT (0-2, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

SKA produced its fourth consecutive win — improving to five wins from six in the process — as Salavat Yulaev’s inconsistent form continues. After finishing strongly to win in overtime at Dynamo on Saturday, the men in green produced a mirror-image of that game and lost in the extras here.

SKA might have enjoyed the better form in the build-up, but Ufa had more to celebrate in the first period. The visitor broke the deadlock midway through the opening frame with an unlikely goal. Markus Granlund played a long pass out of defense for Sakari Manninen to chase. Manninen got his stick to it on the blue line and the deflection was enough to wrong-foot Mikhail Berdin and send the puck into the net.

The first power play of the game soon followed and Salavat took advantage to double its lead. The visitor camped out in SKA territory and Dmitry Kugryshev fed Nikita Soshnikov in the right-hand channel for a wrister to make it 2-0.

Two days earlier, Salavat Yulaev went two down in the first period and recovered to win at Dynamo. This time, though, SKA would give Ufa a reminder not to write off an opponent after 20 minutes. Anton Burdasov scored twice, a power play goal midway through the second and a close range effort with 10 minutes on the clock.

That forced overtime and SKA needed just 14 seconds to find a winner. Joonas Kemppainen applied the press in his own zone and forced Granlund to yield the puck. The SKA center fired the puck to the slot when Vladimir Tkachyov was on hand to get the winning goal.

Bocharov blanks Neftekhimik

Dynamo Moscow 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 (0-0, 2-0, 1-0)

Both of these teams lost their previous two games — and it was Dynamo that got a much-needed boost thanks to a shut-out from Ivan Bocharov. The home goalie was at his busiest in the first period, making 12 saves as Neftekhimik made a lively start to the game. Subsequently, though, the Blue-and-White offense stepped up and decided the outcome in the second period.

That middle frame saw Dynamo outshoot Neftekhimik 23-6 and the home team spent almost nine minutes on the attack. That pressure yielded two goals, both on the power play, as Teemu Pulkkinen and Vyacheslav Kulyomin opened a comfortable lead.

Early in the third, Vladislav Yefremov made it 3-0 and from that point on the home team could slow the tempo. The final frame produced relatively few chances as Dynamo skated to victory.

Triple salvo sends Traktor up to third

Jokerit Helsinki 1 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (0-0, 1-0, 0-3)

Historically, games between these two have tended to go to Jokerit, with Traktor never before winning in Helsinki. However, this time Traktor arrived on the back a hot streak of form while the Finns had to contend with 14 players on the sick list until the day of the game. Lauri Marjamaki’s team was largely ready to emerge from quarantine, but struggled to match Traktor for game readiness as the action wore on.

Initially, though, there was little between the teams. The first period was goalless and it took a power play effort from Jesse Joensuu to open the scoring in the 28th minute. Just after the midway mark, another home power play saw good chances for Mikko Lehtonen (twice), Eeli Tolvanen and Niklas Jensen but there was no further scoring in the middle frame. For Traktor, Yaroslav Kosov almost conjured a spectacular coast-to-coast effort but Anders Lindback had the answer to his shot.

However, Traktor was getting closer and closer and when Lindback was finally beaten, the visitor quickly rattled in three goals to turn the game upside down. Stanislav Gareyev got the first on 48:53, then Kosov found the net and Vyacheslav Osnovin gave the visitor some breathing space. It all happened in just two minutes, 39 seconds. That rapid raid left no way back for Jokerit; Traktor moves ahead of Avtomobilist into third in the East.

Dinamo snaps losing streak

Dinamo Riga 5 Kunlun Red Star 3 (1-2, 3-1, 1-0)

The highest scoring game of the day came in Latvia where the basement teams of the two conferences went head-to-head. Red Star arrived on the back of a five game losing streak, while Dinamo’s skid was a miserable 12 games.

Dinamo got the perfect start, earning an early power play and taking just 10 seconds to convert it. Jordan Murray thumped in a shot from the blue line and Lauris Darzins got in front of Dmitry Shikin to knock the puck down into the net.

However, Red Star responded strongly. Parker Foo tied the scores with his first goal for the club after five minutes and, three minutes later, Ivan Nikolishin gave the visitor the lead. Both goals came after shots that cannoned back of the boards; debutant goalie Zane McIntyre’s first KHL appearance ended after nine minutes.

The second period began with a fight — Viktor Baldayev vs JC Lipon — and another power play goal for the host. This time, Murray’s shot found the net with Darzins providing the traffic. Red Star responded late in the frame when Casey Wellman restored the visitor’s lead but a pair of late goals saw Riga take a lead to the locker room. Miks Indrasis got his first of the season, then Gleb Zyryanov scored on his former club.

Zyryanov was clearly enjoying the chance to prove a point to Red Star: early in the third he produced a similar effort to make it 5-3. That proved too much for the Dragons, who slipped to a first ever loss in Riga.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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