Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Ak Bars extended its club record winning streak to 10 games, but only after a late fightback at home to Traktor. Avtomobilist also tried to salvage its game at home to Barys, but a disallowed goal late in the action helped the visitor hold on for a 3-2 verdict. Mario Kempe potted his first KHL hat-trick as CSKA demolished Neftkehimik, Martin Bakos scored twice for Spartak in a 4-1 win at Jokerit and there were three point hauls for Mattias Tedenby and Kaspars Daugavins as Vityaz beat Sochi.

Avto’s fightback falls short

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 3 (0-2, 1-1, 1-0)

A fast start from Barys made all the difference in this game, with Avtomobilist unable to recover a 3-0 deficit.

Photo: 08.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - Barys (Nur-Sultan)

The two teams came into this one with some solid form behind them, and both had four wins from their previous six games. However, Barys was in slightly more urgent need of the points, finding itself four points adrift of its host, albeit with a game in hand.

That might explain the highly motivated start from the visitor. Inside four minutes, Roman Starchenko gave Barys the lead when he blocked a shot in his own zone and went down the ice on his own to beat Jakub Kovar in the Avto net. A double minor penalty presented another opportunity for the visitor and Jakob Lilja took advantage to convert a Linus Videll feed and score his 16th goal of the season. When Kirill Panyukov redirected Jesse Blacker shot into Kovar’s net at the start of the second period, Barys seemed to be well in control of the game.

However, the Motormen did not give up. Even before Panyukov’s goal there were signs that the home team had a more enterprising approach to the second period and late in the frame there was a reward when Anatoly Golyshev scored after the puck pinballed around the crease. The comeback was on, and it almost saved the game. Peter Holland made it 2-3 late in the game and, with Avtomobilist on the power play, Brooks Macek believed he had tied the scores. However, a video review found the goal had been kicked home and Barys held on to claim the win.

Ak Bars battles to extend winning streak

Ak Bars Kazan 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 SO (0-1, 0-0, 2-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Earlier in the week, Ak Bars set a club record with a ninth successive KHL victory. Today, Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team extended that run — but only just. It took a late fightback to save this game in regulation, followed by a shoot-out win sealed by veteran Danis Zaripov.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that this game turned into a battle. For all the home team’s impressive form this season, it lost its two previous meetings with Traktor. And the visitor made a good start when Vyacheslav Osnovin opened the scoring in the third minute. That ushered in a first period that was dominated more by aggression than skill, with both teams getting sucked into unnecessary physical battles. The second period saw the pace drop, and there was no further scoring even though Ak Bars began to dictate more of the play.

Early in the third, Traktor extended its lead when Tomas Hyka played the puck back to Sergei Telegin on the blue line and his shot was redirected into the net by Vitaly Kravtsov. For a long time, that looked good enough to win it for Traktor, but Ak Bars produced a stunning late rally. True, the visitor contributed to its own downfall with a couple of quick penalties that left it playing 3-on-5 for 1:24. Harri Pesonen, playing only his second game since arriving in Kazan from Magnitogorsk, scored his first goal for the club to reduce the arrears. Then, in the last minute, Stephane Da Costa tied the game when he potted the rebound from a Nigel Dawes shot. Da Costa stretched his productive streak to 10 games in the process.

The drama wasn’t done. Ak Bars had to kill a late penalty to take the game to overtime and then had to withstand more Traktor pressure at the start of the extras. The visitor had three presentable chances to win the game in overtime, but Adam Reideborn held firm in the home net and continued to deny Traktor in the shoot-out. His opposite number, Ivan Fedotov, was replaced with Roman Will during that shoot-out, but to no avail. Ak Bars scored through Dawes, Roman Lyubimov and Zaripov to secure a 10th straight win.

Kempe’s hat-trick demolishes Neftekhimik

CSKA Moscow 6 Neftekhimik Nizhenkamsk 1 (1-0, 4-1, 1-0)

Mario Kempe’s first KHL hat-trick made all the difference as the Army Men thumped Neftekhimik. The home team was on a relatively poor run by its high standards, with just one win in four games, but made short work of struggling Neftekhimik in a blistering second period with the Swede to the fore.

Photo: 08.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. CSKA (Moscow) - Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)

Ivan Telegin opened the scoring early on, assisted by Danil Yurtaikin, who got his first point since returning to Russia from San Jose. It wasn’t long before the former Lokomotiv man was celebrating his first CSKA goal when he made it 2-0 early in the second frame.

Then Kempe took over, scoring three goals in 12 minutes to leave Neftekhimik reeling. The visitor managed a consolation effort in the midst of that blitz, Timur Sharifyanov finding the net, but the gap in class was too great to bridge. Brendan Leipsic assisted on two of Kempe’s goals and he completed the scoring in the third period.

Tedenby, Daugavins pot three points apiece

Vityaz Moscow Region 4 HC Sochi 2 (2-0, 2-2, 0-0)

Mattias Tedenby scored twice as Vityaz kept in touch with the playoff pack. The Podolsk team is now four points adrift of Severstal but has a game in hand.

The Swede opened the scoring in the fourth minute, assisted by Kaspars Daugavins. The Latvian forward took his productive streak to five games and soon had a goal to celebrate on top of that as Vityaz converted a power play late in the opening session. Tedenby had a helper on that goal.

Igor Rudenkov got Sochi on the board after 51 seconds of the middle frame, but hopes of a comeback were immediately hampered by a Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov goal just 18 seconds later. Tedenby’s second of the game — and another point for Daugavins — increased the lead and a Nikita Sedov effort for Sochi was little more than consolation.

Bakos and Djuse have too much for Jokerit

Jokerit Helsinki 1 Spartak Moscow 4 (0-2, 1-1, 0-1)

Spartak’s previous visit to Helsinki this season ended in a 1-7 loss, but today Oleg Znarok’s team had a much better time of it in the Finnish capital. The 4-1 victory makes back-to-back wins for the Red-and-Whites and puts the team level on points with Jokerit.

The home team, though, may feel it made its guest a bit too comfortable in the early stages of the game. The opening minutes saw two Jokerit players go to the bench and Spartak converted its second power play chance thanks to Emil Djuse in the ninth minute. Midway through the first, Martin Bakos extended the lead and from then on Jokerit was always chasing the game. The visitor topped the shot count by 16-5 in the first period as the Finns failed to impose their play on this encounter.

Early in the second, Maxim Tsyplakov extended Spartak’s lead when he converted a great set-up from Djuse during a period of 4-on-4 hockey. That prompted a swift response from Jokerit, with Jordan Schroeder pulling a goal back after the visiting defense gave him too much time and space to line up his shot. That didn’t really slow Spartak’s progress and the visitor had the puck in the net once again late in the frame, only for Pavel Chernov’s effort to be whistled off for offside. A fourth goal did arrive though, with Bakos putting his second of the night into an empty net to complete a convincing win.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
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CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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