Andy Potts Andy Potts
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There were big wins early on Sunday’s card with Avtomobilist snapping its 10-game losing streak in style at Metallurg, while Salavat Yulaev got its first win this month at home to Sibir. Ak Bars had a 4-1 success at home to Jokerit while Barys moved into the playoff places with victory at Traktor. Vityaz surprised Avangard in Podolsk, Dinamo Minsk edged Kunlun Red Star in a shoot-out and Neftekhimik suffered a sixth straight reverse after Vadim Shipachyov’s late goal gave Dynamo the win. Spartak won at Sochi and Severstal blanked Torpedo.

Motormen’s misery ends in Magnitogorsk

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 0 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4 (0-2, 0-2, 0-0)

Avtomobilist snapped its 10-game skid in emphatic style, abruptly halting Metallurg’s recent improved run with four unanswered goals in Magnitogorsk.

Photo: 13.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

Prior to the game, home head coach Ilya Vorobyov had warned that a wounded animal is often at its most dangerous and his sentiments were born out by the Motormen’s performance here. True, the visitor got a helping hand early on when goalie Juho Olkinuora got into trouble behind his own net and collided with his own team-mate before Alexei Makeyev had the simplest of finishes into an unguarded target. The home team came close to tying the scores when Sergei Plotnikov hit the crossbar, but from next passage of play saw Stanislav Bocharov double the visitor’s lead.

Olkinuora’s unhappy afternoon came to an end 24 seconds into the middle frame after he was beaten by Pavel Kulikov solo rush. Vasily Koshechkin came into the Metallurg net but was ill-served by his team-mates as Magnitka ran into penalty trouble. A 5-on-3 advantage helped Anatoly Golyshev make it 4-0.

The home team continued to create chances in the second and third periods but could not find a way past Jakub Kovar. The Czech goalie secured his fourth shut-out of the season, making 26 saves to steer his team into the latest international break with its nightmare run behind it.

Salavat snaps four-game skid, Sibir drops from playoff places

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 1 (1-1, 2-0, 0-0)

Salavat Yulaev got its first win of the month. The home team, limited to just one goal in its previous three games, rediscovered its scoring form and handed Sibir a fourth straight defeat to push the visitor out of the playoff places.

When a team is short of goals, keeping the game tight at the start is often the way to set nerves jangling. Sibir, though, did the opposite. A penalty after 37 seconds gave Salavat Yulaev the perfect opportunity to get ahead and Alexander Kadeikin took advantage with a second-minute goal. However, the Sibir power play wasn’t too shabby either, tying the game after five minutes thanks to Viktor Komarov.

The start of the second period was all about the home team. A couple of minutes into the action, Pavel Koledov’s backhand lifted the puck into the top corner and soon afterwards Sakari Manninen extended the lead.

There was still time for a big save from Juha Metsola, caught by surprise when the puck bounced off the boards and straight to Nikita Korotkov. The Finn reacted smartly and got back into position in time to swat the shot off the goal line and preserve that 3-1 lead until the end.

Barys moves into a playoff place

Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 4 (0-1, 0-1, 2-2)

Barys overtook Sibir to claim eighth place in the table thanks to victory on the road in Chelyabinsk. Roman Starchenko led the way for the visitor with a goal and two assists.

Starchenko opened the scoring on the first powerplay of the game, finding the top corner off a Valery Orekhov feed. Midway through the game he was involved again before Nikita Mikhailis arrived at the far post to convert Anton Sagadeyev’s pass. And early in the third Starchenko set up Matt Frattin for another power play marker to make it 3-0.

Belatedly, Traktor woke up. Lawrence Pilut fired home a thunderbolt from the blue line to give the home team hope of salvaging something, but almost immediately Linus Videll responded to make it 4-1. Traktor’s Czech duo of Tomas Hyka and Lukas Sedlak had the final word with an odd-man rush, but Sedlak’s goal was only a consolation effort.

Shipachyov snatches late winner

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

A late power play goal from Vadim Shipachyov enabled Dynamo to inflict a sixth straight loss on Neftekhimik and leave its host adrift at the foot of the Eastern Conference.

The visitor took the lead late in the first period thanks to Nikita Popugayev. It was the 22-year-old’s first goal of the season as the young forward looks to establish himself in Dynamo’s team. However, Neftekhimik turned it around thanks to two goals from Libor Hudacek. He scored at the start of the second period and put the home team in front in the 47th minute.

Dynamo, though, would not be denied. Daniil Tarasov tied the game midway through the third period, then Rafael Bikmullin was called for tripping in the closing moments and, just nine seconds later, Shipachyov won it for the Blue-and-Whites.

Late goal frustrates Red Star

Kunlun Red Star 2 Dinamo Minsk 3 SO (0-0, 1-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Dinamo twice came from behind to win at Kunlun, with a shoot-out required to separate the two teams.

Photo: 13.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) - Dinamo (Minsk)

Red Star finally broke the deadlock late in the second period. Vyacheslav Leshchenko took play from one end to the other, Jake Chelios fired in a point shot and, from the resulting scramble, Ivan Nikolishin stuffed the puck into the net. Dinamo appealed, but the video review saw nothing wrong with the play.

The visitor tied the game on the power play early in the third when Ryan Spooner made it 1-1. However, the Dragons are on a good run of late and Hunter Shinkaruk restored the home lead eight minutes from time, beating Alexei Kolosov with a fine solo effort. That wasn’t enough to win it, though. Dinamo withdrew its goalie to play 6-on-4 after Viktor Baldayev was sent to the box, and Artyom Demkov fired home the tying goal from between the hash marks with 96 seconds left on the clock.

That effort was even more valuable at the end of the extras. Neither team could score in regulation, so it came to a shoot-out and Alexander Kogalev give the visitor the verdict.

First-period blitz gives Spartak the edge

HC Sochi 3 Spartak Moscow 4 (0-3, 2-1, 1-0)

A fast start from Spartak gave the Red-and-Whites an important win in its race for a playoff spot. Four goals in the first 25 minutes took this one away from Sochi and the home team was unable to recover the deficit despite a battling performance late in the game.

Penalty trouble undermined the Leopards in the first period. Sergei Shirokov converted the first power play of the game to put Spartak ahead in the 11th minute. Then, after Mikhail Kotlyarevsky doubled the lead with both teams at full strength, another power play saw Yakov Rylov make it 3-0, 10 seconds before the intermission.

Sochi pulled a goal back through Daniil Miromanov at the start of the second, but Ilya Talaluyev made it 4-1 moments later. A power play goal from Igor Rudenkov gave the home team hope and when Yury Alexandrov made it 3-4 with eight minutes left, Spartak faced a nervous finish. But the visitor defended well, stayed out of the box, and closed out the win.

Provolnev’s double beats Torpedo

Severstal Cherepovets 3 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 0 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0)

Severstal’s head coach Andrei Razin made headlines in the week when he cheekily invited Avtomobilist’s Anatoly Golyshev to join his team. Today, his men produced a performance to back up his confidence, recording a fifth straight win after downing Torpedo on home ice.

Vladislav Provolnev opened the scoring in the fourth minute and added another goal midway through the third period. That moves him to 5 (3+2) points from the five-game hot streak. In between, Daniil Vovchenko followed up his ‘lacrosse’ goal on Friday with a more conventional effort here.

At the other end, Vladislav Podyapolsky secured his third shut-out of the season. The 25-year-old made 23 saves to inflict a second loss in three games on Torpedo.

Danforth’s double gives Vityaz victory

Vityaz Moscow Region 4 Avangard Omsk 3 (2-0, 1-2, 1-1)

Justin Danforth scored twice — his first goals since Nov. 20 — to lead Vityaz to a vital victory over Avangard and keep his team firmly in the race for a top-eight finish. The Canadian moves to 33 (14+19) points in his first KHL campaign.

Photo: 13.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Avangard (Omsk)

Before that, though, the home team made a strong start with two unanswered goals in the first period. Jakub Jerabek opened the scoring on a power play midway through the frame, then another penalty on Avangard was only just over as Danila Moiseyev made it 2-0.

Danforth made it 3-0 at the start of the second period before Avangard began its fightback. Maxim Chudinov scored his first goal of an injury-disrupted season to reduce the deficit and Sergei Tolchinsky made it a one-goal game late in the middle session.

The next goal would be crucial — and it went to Danforth midway through the third period. The breathing space was just enough for Vityaz: Reid Boucher converted a power play chance with five minutes left but the Hawks could not save the game.

Jokerit stumbles in Kazan

Ak Bars Kazan 4 Jokerit Helsinki 1 (2-0, 0-0, 2-1)

The big game of the day saw Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars take on a Jokerit team searching for points that would keep it well-placed in the playoff race. After wins for three of the Finns’ closest rivals earlier in the day, Lauri Marjamaki’s team had every incentive to beat its high-flying opponent, but could not find a way to deny the Tatars a fifth successive victory.

Ak Bars opened the scoring midway through the first period when Dmitry Voronkov’s rising shot took a deflection off Anders Lindback’s stick and bounced off the inside of the post. A video review confirmed that the puck dropped over the line and the home team had the lead. Voronkov then had an assist as Ivan Yemets doubled the lead from close range late in the opening stanza.

Early in the second period, Ak Bars had a penalty shot after Lindback came racing from his net and took out the goalbound Danis Zaripov somewhere near the top of the face off circles. Tommi Kivisto also took a tumble during the incident, but Jokerit escaped without further damage after Nigel Dawes failed with the free shot. Late in the frame, the visitor was close to pulling a goal back, but Jesse Joensuu was robbed by Adam Reideborn’s glove save.

Niklas Jensen gave the visitor hope with a goal at the start of the third. However, Ak Bars would not be denied. The home team continued to create chances and wrapped up the win with a late goal from Stephane Da Costa and an empty-netter for Kirill Petrov.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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