Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Salavat Yulaev smashed Ak Bars’ 10-game winning streak, powering to a 7-3 victory in the Green Derby with Teemu Hartikainen leading the way. Jokerit, for the second time this season, played a notional ‘home’ game on the opposition’s ice and this time Lauri Marjamaki’s team got the verdict at Avtomobilist. The SKA vs CSKA clash went to the Muscovites thanks to Konstantin Okulov’s overtime goal. Elsewhere, Amur beat Red Star 5-4, Vityaz blanked Neftkehimik, Torpedo moved ahead of Traktor and Severstal added to Sochi’s woes.

Dragons’ comeback in vain

Amur Khabarovsk 5 Kunlun Red Star 4 (1-1, 2-0, 2-3)

A spirited fightback from Kunlun fell short as Amur made it two wins in a row. For the second game in a row, the Tigers scored five. This time, though, they were pushed all the way by a third-period revival from the visitor.

Matvei Zaseda began a memorable afternoon by scoring his first KHL goal midway through the first period. The 21-year-old made his debut back in 2017 and had a short spell with Avangard before returning to his hometown of Khabarovsk. Today, in his 20th appearance, he opened his account — and went on to add a goal and an assist. Before that, though, Ethan Werek brought Red Star level late in the first period.

The middle frame saw Amur take control. A pair of quick goals from Vladimir Butuzov and Dmitry Arkhipov — the latter against his former club — opened a 3-1 lead and Zaseda got his second of the game at the start of the third period. A video review denied the host a fifth, but then the Dragons awoke. Spencer Foo found the net for the second game running, and when Cory Kane struck three minutes from time, we were back to a one-goal game. Amur took a penalty, Red Star played 6-on-4, and even after Valentin Pyanov’s empty net goal restored a two-goal lead, Luke Lockhart reduced the deficit with 50 seconds left. That wasn’t quite enough time for Red Star to save the game, but the teams meet again on Tuesday.

Hartikainen destroys Ak Bars

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 7 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (2-2, 1-1, 4-0)

This rivalry is one of the biggest in the KHL, and it was back in Ufa for the first time since 2019. Even without a restricted capacity due to the pandemic it would surprise nobody to see tickets sell out fast and this year they were snapped up quicker than ever. The 4,000 lucky fans who were in the arena witnessed a great game, and most of them left exulting over a four-goal third period that gave the home team a comfortable win.

Photo: 10.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

The teams started the game at a frenetic pace. Ak Bars was defending a 10-game winning streak and Stephane Da Costa was on a similar scoring run. It took the Frenchman less than four minutes to continue that, scoring on Juha Metsola to open the scoring. However, it wasn’t long before Ufa tied it up with a power play goal, Hartikainen getting a helper as Alexander Kadeikin scored. Lifted by that goal, Salavat Yulaev went in front thanks to Geoff Platt, but Andrei Pedan sent the teams to the locker room tied at 1-1.

There were two more tallies shared in the middle frame, with Teemu Hartikainen scoring on the power play only for Danis Zaripov to cancel it out. But, after two periods with little to choose between the teams, the host exploded in the third to record a memorable win.

It started with Sakari Manninen getting his team’s third power play goal of the day, albeit helped by a freak bounce off Pedan. Then Hartikainen added three more goals, moving to 5 (4+1) points for the game and 50 (21+29) for the season. That his best return for an individual game, and the most productive season for any Finnish player in KHL history, beating the record set by Esa Pirnes in the first season of the league.

Kapustin double sets up Severstal success

Severstal Cherepovets 4 HC Sochi 2 (2-0, 1-1, 1-1)

Severstal made short work of a struggling Sochi team, taking a two-goal lead in the first period and never allowing the visitor to get back into contention. The Leopards had not won since Dec. 30, but that game brought a 6-2 win at home to today’s opponent, giving them grounds for hope that Cherepovets could be the venue for a first win of 2021.

Those hopes were ended quickly. Two goals from Kirill Kapustin put the home team in control, while Joonas Nattinen extended his productive streak to four games with assists on both. Sochi pulled one back at the start of the second through Sergei Shmelyov, but Yegor Morozov made it 3-1 late in the middle frame. Daniil Vovchenko made it 4-1 in the third, jumping out of the penalty box to score.

Only at the end was there any sign of a fightback from Sochi. Shmelyov got his second of the game, then Severstal was reduced to three skaters. However, the home team managed to close out the last few minutes and seal the win.

Ezhov blanks Neftekhimik

Vityaz Moscow Region 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

A second successive win for Vityaz keeps playoff hopes alive for the Moscow Region team. The team remains in ninth place, but closes to within three points of Spartak and has a game in hand on the Red-and-Whites.

The home team got in front early through Ivan Larichev and Vityaz had the better of the opening frame without adding to the lead. At the start of the second, though, there was pressure from Neftekhimik and after two icings in quick succession, Mikhail Kravets called a time-out to calm things down. He clearly found the right words: within a couple of minutes Mattias Tedenby doubled the lead on the power play. Vityaz sealed the win in the last second with an empty net goal from Justin Danforth, while goalie Ilya Ezhov stopped 28 shots for his second shut-out of the season.

Torpedo climbs the table

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 (1-1, 2-1, 0-0)

Torpedo moved ahead of Traktor to take fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The visitor slipped to a fifth straight defeat, while David Nemirovsky’s team bounced back after two back-to-back losses.

Both teams would have been desperate to get the opening goal and enjoy the confidence boost that taking a lead can bring after losing games. However, before Traktor had a chance to get a feel of the puck, Chris Wideman fired home the opener after 32 seconds. Daniil Ilyin quickly tied it up for the visitor and the teams went to the intermission deadlocked.

Torpedo got back in front midway through the second period through Ivan Chekhovich. Andy Miele’s movement in front of the net pulled the visiting defense all over the place, and Chekhovich was free to convert Damir Zhafyarov’s pass from behind the net. Alexander Avtsin tied it up once again, but late in the middle frame Chris Terry scored on the power play to give the home team the win.

Home win on the road for Jokerit

Jokerit Helsinki 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 (0-0, 2-1, 1-1)

For the second time this season, Jokerit had to play a ‘home’ game on opposition ice. After playing two games in two days in Kazan, and losing both last month, the Finns came to Yekaterinburg a day early to play a rearranged game 24 hours ahead of the scheduled away meeting.

Markus Hannikainen made his KHL debut for the club he last represented in 2014 before Jokerit left the Liiga. Previously signed to Columbus and Arizona in the NHL, he arrived as a free agent last month, continuing his career with his first pro club.

It took time for this game to come to life. The first period was quiet, but Jokerit opened the scoring early in the second thanks to a point shot from David Sklenicka. Alexei Makeyev cancelled that out almost immediately on the power play, but within a minute Alex Grant made it 2-1 to Jokerit.

That brief flurry of goals was followed by another lull, with no further scoring in the middle frame. But the game was very much alive and Pavel Datsyuk scored another fine individual goal to tie the scores. However, the Motormen could not deny the ‘home’ team victory and Marko Anttila got the decider.

Okulov settles Army derby

SKA St. Petersburg 2 CSKA Moscow 3 OT (1-0, 1-1, 0-1, 0-1)

SKA slipped to a fourth successive defeat as this Army derby went to overtime. CSKA had to come from behind twice before winning it, but ended the evening extending its lead at the top of the Western Conference to seven points.

Photo: 10.01.21. KHL Championship 2020/2021. SKA (St.Petersburg) - CSKA (Moscow)

Before that, SKA twice led on goals from Andrei Kuzmenko, a player who continues to torment his former club. Oddly, although his first arrived in the 12th minute, it was also the first shot on target in this game. The chance came from a defensive error as Konstantin Okulov’s attempted clearance went straight to Anton Burdasov and Kuzmenko finished off the counter attack.

CSKA’s offense was limited, but the visitor tied the game at the start of the second period when Artyom Sergeyev found the net. SKA responded with a second goal from Kuzmenko as the Muscovites ran into penalty trouble. This time, Joonas Kemppainen won the puck behind the net and delivered it to the slot for his team-mate to finish.

However, the home team was unable to build on that lead and midway through the third period Ivan Telegin tied it up again, beating Alexander Samonov with a shot from the top of the circle. Kuzmenko went close to a hat-trick at the other end, but the game was destined for overtime. In those extras, Okulov atoned for his first-period error to grab the game-winner, spinning away from the attentions of Kuzmenko to fire over Samonov’s shoulder.

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Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
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