Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Reid Boucher had a hand in all three of Avangard’s first period goals to set his team on the way to victory over Metallurg in Saturday’s big game in the Eastern Conference. Elsewhere, Lokomotiv eased to victory at Dinamo Riga and Dynamo Moscow defeated its near namesake from Minsk.

Dynamo marks anniversary with a win

Dynamo Moscow 2 Dinamo Minsk 0 (1-0, 1-0, 0-0)

Dynamo’s first home game of 2021 was a celebration for more than one reason. As well as a welcome return to the ice, the club also marked the 15th anniversary of its European Cup triumph of 2006, when it defeated Finland’s Karpat in the final. Today’s team wore a retro jersey inspired by the uniform of that campaign and there was a nostalgic feel in the build-up to Dinamo Minsk’s visit.

Photo: 09.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Dynamo (Moscow) - Dinamo (Minsk)

However, this dynamic derby was also a key part of the battle for a top four finish in the Western Conference. Going into the game, Moscow had the advantage, three points clear of Minsk. But recent form favored the Belarusians, who were closing the gap with a three-game winning streak and had a game in hand over Saturday’s host.

Dynamo, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from two losses and got a big helping hand early on. Pavel Varfolomeyev took an early penalty and Andrei Mironov blasted home the opening goal on 3:17 through a crowd of players in front of the Minsk net. The opening period produced few chances at either end and Mironov’s goal was the only major incident in the first session.

After the break, the home team found itself in frequent penalty trouble. However, when at full strength, Dynamo managed to extend its lead. Ivan Igumnov’s shot was padded back into the danger zone by Minsk goalie Dominik Furch and Ivan Muranov pounced on the rebound to make it 2-0.

That was how it finished, with Alexander Yeryomenko continuing to roll back the years in the Moscow net. The 40-year-old, who played European hockey for Dynamo even before that 2006 triumph, posted his third shut-out of the season after stopping 28 shots.

Loko stays unbeaten in 2021

Dinamo Riga 1 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4 (1-2, 0-2, 0-0)

Despite a bright start to the game, Dinamo was unable to bounce back from Thursday’s heavy loss at home to Dinamo Minsk. Instead, Lokomotiv cancelled out Lauris Darzins’ early goal and steadily pulled away to record a comfortable victory in Latvia.

The Railwaymen’s previous visit to Riga was a hard-fought affair, settled in a shoot-out after a 2-2 tie. And it seemed that Dinamo might be capable of at least matching that when the home team took the lead in the 13th minute. Darzins forced the puck home from close range after a Denis Parshin shot was saved; Riga’s captain recorded his 22nd point of the season and remains one behind the club’s leading scorer Miks Indrasis.

However, if Dinamo can point to some respectable scoring contributions this term, defensively it has struggled from the start. Peteris Skudra has named eight different goalies so far without finding anyone capable of holding down the #1 spot. Today, Ivan Nalimov took his turn between the piping, but he faced a difficult afternoon. Two minutes after Darzins opened the scoring, he was beaten by Teemu Pulkkinen as the in-form Finn made it five goals in seven games since joining Loko. A short-handed effort from Pavel Kraskovsky just before the intermission gave the visitor the lead.

In the second period, Loko forged ahead. Daniil Misyul scored early in the session and Artyom Ilyenko made it 4-1 midway through the game. Dinamo had the puck in the net at the start of third period, but Kristaps Zile’s effort was ruled out for use of a hand. The video verdict effectively extinguished hopes of a home recovery, and Lokomotiv closed out the remaining minutes to take its fourth win of the year.

Boucher shines as Avangard downs Magnitka

Avangard Omsk 4 Metallurg Magnitogosk 2 (3-0, 0-1, 1-1)

Second entertained third in this Eastern Conference clash, with both teams looking to build on back-to-back wins. Avangard made a fast start but faced a strong recovery from Metallurg before sealing the win late on.

Photo: 09.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avangard (Omsk) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

The Hawks took control of the game in the closing minutes of the first period. In the 15th minute, Denis Zernov opened the scoring with a power play goal after Reid Boucher’s magnificent pass sliced open the visiting defense. A couple of minutes later, Boucher scored one for himself after he was sent to the net by Ilya Kovalchuk. The Canadian forward got the puck behind Vasily Koshechkin’s pads, but it took a video review to confirm the goal was good. Late in the opening frame, Kovalchuk added a third with Boucher involved again as the home power play clicked once more.

Three previous meetings between these teams had ended in a shut-out victory — two for Avangard, one for Metallurg. Thus, the visitor would have to rewrite the script for this fixture if it was to save the game. And Magnitka set about trying to do exactly that. The second period saw Sergei Plotnikov release Andrei Chibisov with a glorious long pass and Metallurg was on the board. Midway through the third, Yegor Martynov — once an Avangard player — made it a one-goal game after a Chibisov shot rebounded to him in the right-hand circle.

However, the fightback remained incomplete. In the last minute, Corban Knight made the game safe for Avangard with an empty net goal and the Hawks collected their third win of the season over the Steelmen.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Dinamo (Riga) Dinamo (Riga)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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