Andy Potts Andy Potts
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KHL leader Ak Bars showed why it’s out in front with a crushing 7-2 victory at Dynamo Moscow. Among the chasing pack, Eastern Conference rivals Traktor and Metallurg both picked up 3-2 wins, while Western high-flyer SKA had to work for its 2-0 success at home to Severstal. Sibir got a second win in three days at home to Amur and Avtomobilist made it two wins from three after beating Salavat Yulaev.

Sharov delivers shoot-out success

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Amur Khabarovsk 2 SO (1-1, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Sibir picked up a home victory over Amur for the seventh time in a row – but this one was closer than most. The teams met most recently in Siberia the day before yesterday, with the home team winning in regulation to snap a four-game skid. Today, though, it went the full distance before Sibir repeated the 3-2 verdict in a shoot-out.

On Tuesday, Amur was blown away by three unanswered goals in the first period and, despite a brave rally, could not recover. The Tigers learned from that, keeping it tight in the early minutes then taking the lead midway through the opening frame thanks to Valentin Pyanov’s seventh goal of the season. The visitor enjoyed the better of the play but was pegged back when a penalty on Vladimir Butuzov saw Sibir’s Finnish PP team tie it up. Juuso Puustinen got the goal.

The second period produced several penalties but no goals. However, at the start of the third, Sibir went in front with a power play goal. Vladislav Ushenin scored on his former club, just as twin brother Vyacheslav did two days earlier. However, Tomas Zohorna tied it up and sent the game to overtime. In the extras, Amur had to kill two penalties, one carried over from regulation and the other imposed after a minute of play. Evgeny Alikin kept his team in the game with some big saves but was powerless to prevent Sibir claiming the shoot-out win thanks to Alexander Sharov.

Avto shows signs of recovery

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (1-1, 0-1, 2-0)

Avtomobilist picked up an important victory at home to Salavat Yulaev as Bill Peters’ team shows signs of recovering from its recent slump. After losing 10 in a row, Avto has now won two of its last three and showed character here as it twice came from behind.

The evening might have been more comfortable if Alexei Makeyev had converted a penalty shot in the seventh minute. Early in the season, Makeyev led the KHL scoring race but after a hat-trick against Dinamo Riga on Nov. 1, his form has slowed. His current run has just three goals in 15 appearances.

If missing that chance was a blow, Avto’s day got worse a couple of minutes later when Markus Granlund put Salavat Yulaev in front. The visitor’s Finnish trio combined effectively to break the deadlock midway through the first period. However, the home team recovered to tie it up with a power play goal after Pavel Datsyuk set up Georgy Belousov and his wrister from the right-hand channel did the rest.

The game continued at a high tempo, but the next goal was not until the last seconds of the middle frame. Once again, Granlund was the scorer, restoring Ufa’s lead on the power play after a helpful deflection off the stick of Nikita Tryamkin.

It wasn’t until the closing minutes that the Motormen saved themselves. First, lax defense from Ufa left Stanislav Bocharov unguarded in the danger zone and he tied the scores in the 53rd minute. Then Tryamkin’s long pass launched a counter attack, with Bocharov setting up Pavel Kulikov for the winner with three minutes left.

Anniversary celebration for Metallurg

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Dinamo Minsk 2 (0-0, 2-1, 1-1)

Taylor Beck scored twice to lead Magnitka to victory in a hard-fought game against Dinamo. The Belarusians twice cancelled out Beck’s goals, but were undone by a late strike from Semyon Koshelev.

Metallurg celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the team on Dec. 24 and this was the 65th birthday for the club. As a result, the players took to the ice in a special retro jersey that combines elements from the uniforms of different title-winning teams of old.

There was little to choose between the teams in the first period, but Beck broke the deadlock at the start of the second. In recent games, Metallurg has alternated wins and losses – and the losses have come without scoring. Thus there was every reason for optimism when the Canadian forward found the net – but Dinamo responded quickly to tie the game thanks to Ryan Murphy. Metallurg went to the intermission with its lead restored, though, when Beck got his second of the night.

That prompted the Belarusians to raise their game in the third period and Stepan Falkovsky tied the scores in the 51st minute. Magnitka would not be denied, however: Semyon Koshelev potted the gamewinner with just over three minutes left and, despite Dinamo’s efforts to press the home team into its own zone, Juho Olkinuora held firm to secure the victory.

Losing streak continues for Neftekhimik

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (1-1, 0-1, 1-1)

Neftekhimik returned to action after the international break but was unable to close on Kunlun as it looks to climb from the foot of the Eastern Conference. Instead, Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team suffered a seventh successive loss as Traktor consolidated its grip on third place.

Pontus Aberg was the star of the show for the visitor. The Swedish forward opened the scoring in the fifth minute and restored Traktor’s lead midway through the second after Kirill Vorobyov levelled the scores. Midway through the third, Yaroslav Kosov made it 3-1 and left Neftekhimik with too much to do.

There was a late consolation for the home team when Linus Johansson scored with 20 seconds left. The Swede marked his debut with a goal following his move from HC Sochi, while another recent signing – former Dinamo Riga forward Brandon MacMillan – had an assist to claim his first point for his new team.

Kemppainen sounds the alarm for Severstal

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Severstal Cherepovets 0 (0-0, 0-0, 2-0)

Severstal’s preparations for this game were disrupted by a fire drill at the team’s hotel in Petersburg, but the visitor tested SKA’s patience before Finnish center Joonas Kemppainen rang the bells with two goals in the third period.

For 40 minutes, the Steelmen did rather more than merely keep SKA at bay. The first two periods saw the visitor have slightly the better of the game – 22 shots to 15, and more time spent on the attack. It wasn’t a commanding advantage but it was enough to ensure that Magnus Hellberg had plenty to do in the home net to keep his team in the game.

The key to the game came at the start of the third. A penalty on Kirill Adamchuk gave SKA its second power play of the game and this one delivered. Vladimir Tkachyov came down the left, fed Kemppainen and watched as the Finn opened the scoring in the 44th minute. Five minutes later, Kemppainen was at it again, converting a two-on-one break with Emil Galimov to give the home team some valuable breathing space. The game ended on a sour note: inside the final two minutes, Severstal’s bid to launch a final storm was frustrating by a hooking call on Daniil Vovchenko and the angry reaction of head coach Andrei Razin saw him sent to the locker room.

League leader Ak Bars thrashes Dynamo

Dynamo Moscow 2 Ak Bars Kazan 7 (2-2, 0-4, 0-1)

The Ak Bars bandwagon rolls on with Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team extending its lead at the top of the table after an emphatic victory in Moscow. Today’s result makes it eight straight for the Tatars, and it was the second time they scored seven on that run.

Ahead of the game there was talk of a close battle, with Kvartalnov acknowledging the power of Dynamo’s hyper-productive top line. For 20 minutes, that prediction made sense. The teams traded four goals in the first period and Dmitrij Jaskin combined with Dmitry Kagarlitsky to put Dynamo 2-1 up in the ninth minute. However, Ak Bars tied it up midway through the frame through Mikhail Glukhov and went on to take complete control.

The second period was a fine display of counter-attacking hockey from the visitor. Four unanswered goals, despite allowing Dynamo more shots and more time in the danger zone. Mikhail Fisenko put Ak Bars in front, then the host was undone by two penalties as Nigel Dawes and Stephane da Costa added power play goals. That ended the evening for ex-Ak Bars goalie Emil Garipov, but da Costa soon scored on his replacement, Ivan Bocharov.

The final stanza was dominated by big penalties. Sergei Boikov was first to go, ejected from the game after slamming Dmitry Voronkov into the boards. Voronkov also headed to the locker room after a juddering hit. A couple of minutes later, Patrice Cormier followed Boikov out of the action after his fight with Artyom Volkov. There was one more goal to come, with Nikita Dynyak compounding the home team’s woes midway through the stanza.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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