Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Henrik Haapala was the hero of Helsinki after scoring a late goal to tie Jokerit’s game against Lokomotiv, then returning to grab the overtime winner. In Moscow, Dmitrij Jaskin and Vadim Shipachyov put Spartak to the sword in a 6-0 derby rout. Jaskin’s hat-trick was matched by Andrei Kuzmenko, who potted three as SKA won 4-1 at Sochi. The big game in the East ended with Salavat Yulaev winning 4-2 at home to Metallurg, while Avangard defeated Traktor 5-3. There was an important win for playoff chasing Sibir at Barys, while Avtomobilist blanked Amur and Torpedo edged Dinamo Riga on a late Mark Marin goal.

Sibir halts Barys’ winning run

Barys Nur-Sultan 1 Sibir Novosibirsk 3 (1-0, 0-1, 0-2)

This game had the feel of a must-win for Sibir. Although the teams were adjacent in the Eastern Conference table, the five-point advantage for Barys was further bolstered by four games in hand for the Kazakh team. With Sibir lying in ninth, just outside the playoff spots, it was imperative that the gap did not grow any bigger.

However, the home team was in a rich vein of form after five successive victories. Matt Frattin played a big part in that run, and he took his productive streak to four games when he potted the opening goal in the fourth minute. Indeed, the Canadian has picked up at least one point in eight of his last nine appearances.

Sibir responded midway through the second when Yefim Gurkin got on the counter and beat Joni Ortio at the second attempt. Then the visitor got a break at the start of the third when Ortio allowed a soft goal from Dmitry Sayustov, turning the game around. Barys battled hard but could not find a way past Harri Sateri and the outcome was settled when Mikael Ruohomaa scored into an empty net.

Improving Motormen record second successive shut-out

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0)

Avto recorded a second successive shut-out win, defeating Amur by the same scoreline it enjoyed two days ago at home to Neftekhimik. On that occasion, Dan Sexton was the hat-trick hero but today’s win was delivered by Alexei Makeyev, who scored his team’s first two goals.

It’s a welcome return to form for the forward. Early in the season he was among the KHL’s leading scorers but during the Motormen’s long losing streak he lost his way and had just two goals in 14 games prior to today. Midway through the first period, Makeyev opened the scoring. Then he got his second early in the final stanza. Both goals were assisted by Pavel Datsyuk. In between the two teams played some enterprising hockey, despite the lack of further goals.

The game was effectively settled in the 47th minute when Peter Holland added a third for the host. Goalie Jakub Kovar secured his second successive shut-out and has now gone unbeaten for just over 140 minutes of game time. Avtomobilist made it four wins from five games.

Sekac, Knight lead the way for Avangard

Avangard Omsk 5 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (1-0, 2-1, 2-2)

There was no Ilya Kovalchuk in Avangard’s ranks for this game; Bob Hartley’s high-profile new acquisition is not yet ready for action in his new colors and was limited to a watching brief today. In absence, though, Corban Knight and Jiri Sekac supplied the firepower with three points apiece to see off Traktor. There was also a first ever KHL goal for Klim Kostin, four years after he made his debut in the league for Dynamo Moscow.

Photo: 28.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avangard (Omsk) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Sekac opened the scoring in the 13th minute, off an assist from Knight. Then the Canadian was involved as Kostin doubled the lead in the second period. When Alexei Emelin added a third goal late in the middle frame, it looked as though Traktor was done. But the visitor battled back. Yaroslav Kosov reduced the deficit before the hooter, and the third period saw Alexei Byvaltsev and Vitaly Kravtsov tie the game with seven minutes to play. For Kravtsov it was his second clutch goal in successive games.

However, it was also destined to be two defeats in two games for the young forward and his team-mates. A 5-on-3 power play gave Avangard a chance to restore the lead and the Knight-Sekac axis came good once more as the Czech got his second of the night. A late Kirill Semyonov effort, assisted by Sekac, sealed the win.

Ufa finishes 2020 on a high

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 (2-1, 0-1, 2-0)

Salavat Yulaev finished its 2020 action with a home victory over Metallurg to move ahead of today’s opponent into third place in the Eastern Conference. Magnitka had to cope with the loss of captain Sergei Mozyakin, recovering from injury, but new signing Nikolai Goldobin, recently joined from CSKA, made his debut for his new club.

Photo: 28.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

However, it was two recent arrivals in Ufa who made the early impact. Geoff Platt opened the scoring for the home team in the second minute, getting his second goal since moving from Avtomobilist. Before long, the home team’s Finnish combination was up and running, with Teemu Hartikainen and Markus Granlund combining for ex-CSKA man Mikhail Naumenkov to make it 2-0.

Having got in front, Salavat Yulaev relaxed a little — and paid the price as Metallurg hit back. Andrei Chibisov reduced the arrears in the first period before a Bogdan Potekhin goal tied it up late in the middle frame. The visitor had the puck in the net for a third time early in the final stanza, but the ref spotted a hand pass in the build-up and the scores remained deadlocked.

That gave Ufa the lift it needed. Goals from Vladimir Zharkov and Alexander Kadeikin opened a 4-2 lead that secured the win for the home team. And there were winners off the ice as well as the club’s annual teddy bear toss — fast becoming an established New Year tradition — raised a record sum of around 1.2 million rubles.

Severstal romps to big win

Severstal Cherepovets 7 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 (3-2, 1-0, 3-0)

Severstal snapped its three-game losing streak in fine style, crushing Neftekhimik 7-2 to record its biggest KHL victory since Sep. 23, 2019. The game was competitive in the first period, with the visitor twice coming from behind, but it turned into a rout in the later stages.

Jacob Berglund, playing against his former club, needed just 17 seconds to give Severstal the lead. He was assisted by Yegor Morozov, who would go on to add two further goals of his own. The first of them came after five minutes, restoring the host’s advantage after Kirill Vorobyov tied the game. And there was another flurry of scoring in the 16th minute when Brandon McMillan made it 2-2 on the power play, only for Vladislav Kodola to make it 3-2 33 seconds later.

After a high-scoring first period, the second was much calmer, with only a Daniil Vovchenko power play goal to trouble the scorers. But the third saw Severstal power to victory. Andrei Alexeyev and Vladislav Provolnev found the net either side of Morozov’s second of the game to complete a resounding final scoreline. Neftekhimik slumped to a ninth successive loss.

Bukarts’ brace in vain for Dinamo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Dinamo Riga 2 (2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Two goals from Rihards Bukarts was not enough for Dinamo Riga as the KHL’s basement dweller went down to a late strike in Nizhny Novgorod. A Mark Marin goal three minutes from the hooter condemned the visitor to a sixth straight loss while David Nemirovsky’s team moves to seventh after posting back-to-back wins for the first time since beating Kunlun Red Star on December 5.

This game got off to a fast start, with Ivan Chekhovich putting Torpedo ahead after 28 seconds, only for Bukarts to reply within a minute. The home team took a lead into the intermission though, thanks to Damir Zhafyarov’s marker late in the frame.

Dinamo remained competitive and tied the scores early in the middle frame when Bukarts struck again. The 24-year-old Latvian international returned to Dinamo in late November after a spell playing in Germany and so far has scored all three of his goals against Torpedo.

However, his hot streak was not enough to stop his team’s slide. Late in the game, Marin got the decider — a first ever game-winner in the KHL for the former Ak Bars prospect.

Jaskin hits hat-trick in Dynamo derby romp

Spartak Moscow 0 Dynamo Moscow 6 (0-4, 0-2, 0-0)

Dmitrij Jaskin turned this Moscow showdown into a demolition derby as he scored a hat-trick on Spartak. The Czech’s three-goal haul moves him to 28 goals for the season and extends his lead on the sniper chart. He was backed up by Vadim Shipachyov, who had one goal and three assists to go clear at the top of the overall scoring chart with 46 (14+32) points.

Photo: 28.12.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Spartak (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

The Blue-and-Whites took control of the game with two quick goals. Jaskin opened the scoring on the power play after five minutes and a minute later Andrei Mironov doubled the advantage despite a coach challenge for goalie interference. Oleg Znarok’s protest was overruled and starting goalie Julius Hudacek was replaced by Alexander Trushkov.

Despite Dynamo’s early lead, Spartak comfortably outshot the visitor in the first period. However, of the eight efforts on the home net, four of them were successful. Late in the session, Jaskin got his second of the game and Michal Cajkovsky made it 4-0.

In the 24th minute, Jaskin completed his treble and Shipachyov made it a hat-trick of helpers as Spartak looked increasingly beleaguered. The Dynamo captain rubbed salt into the wounds with a short-handed goal after 26 minutes, intercepting a slack pass from Yakov Rylov and skating through to make it 6-0. The home team continued to have more of the possession — visiting goalie Alexander Yeryomenko would finish with 39 saves — but not even a 5-on-3 power play could furnish the Red-and-Whites with a consolation goal.

Tsitsyura’s first goal, Kuzmenko’s treble

HC Sochi 1 SKA St. Petersburg 4 (0-0, 0-1, 1-3)

A hat-trick from Andrei Kuzmenko and a first KHL goal for Vladislav Tsitsyura led SKA to a comfortable victory at Sochi.

After a goalless first period, 21-year-old Tsitsyura broke the deadlock in the 25th minute. After Oleg Pogorishny lost control of a puck fired into the right-hand circle, the youngster steered it past Alexei Krasikov. Tsitsyura made his SKA debut this season having previously worked his way through the club’s junior ranks.

Despite its lowly position, Sochi proved a resilient opponent in this game and it wasn’t until Kuzmenko got to work in the third period that SKA made the game safe. The forward is enjoying his best season in the KHL and his treble in this game takes him to 30 (15+15) points from 40 appearances — just three behind the best-ever regular season haul he secured last term. In between his strikes, Sochi’s Kirill Petkov got a consolation goal for the home team.

Haapala heroics in Helsinki drama

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 OT (1-1, 1-1, 1-1, 1-0)

Henrik Haapala was Jokerit’s hero with two late goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Helsinki.

Lokomotiv was looking to close out its 3-2 lead in the dying moments of this game when Haapala got away from Alexei Marchenko and Georgy Ivanov, evaded the despairing lunge of #52 and flipped the puck over Eddie Pasquale’s shoulder to tie the game.

Then, in overtime, the forward did it again, spinning away from his marker to shoot over the glove and grab the winner. For the second game in a row, Haapala scored twice and Jokerit edged the verdict after a 3-3 tie.

Earlier in the game, the teams were hard to separate. An even first period saw Jordan Schroeder give Jokerit the lead on the power play, only for Anton Lander to tie it up barely a minute later. In the second, a power play goal from Artur Kayumov put Lokomotiv ahead before Veli-Matti Savinainen struck late in the frame to make it 2-2 at the intermission. Then Teemu Pulkkinen scored on his compatriots early in the third before Haapala’s game-changing intervention.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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