Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Monday’s action was all about the playoff race. Dinamo Minsk and Spartak enhanced their prospects in the West with home wins over Severstal and Torpedo respectively. Vityaz also boosted its chances by blanking Kunlun Red Star, with Kaspars Daugavins getting a record-breaking 45th point for the season. However, Jokerit lost ground when it went down 2-5 at home to Avangard.

Prince gives Dinamo a crucial win

Dinamo Minsk 2 Severstal Cherepovets 1 (0-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Dinamo picked up a home win over Severstal for the first time since 2014 in a hard-fought battle between two playoff chasing teams.

Monday’s victory for Dinamo was a big boost to the Belarusians’ hopes of making this year’s post season. The result saw Dinamo move three points clear of today’s opponent and maintain a five-point / build a seven-point cushion to ninth-placed Spartak.

The first period was goalless, with Severstal having slightly the better of an evenly contested 20 minutes of action. However, things began to unravel for the Steelmen in the second when penalties on Vadim Kudako and Makar Khabarov gave Dinamo two minutes of 5-on-3 power play. The home team duly took advantage, and Artyom Demkov got the opening goal in the 28th minute when he blasted home Brennan Menell’s diagonal feed.

A Severstal power play early in the third period saw Jacob Berglund tie the game with his fourth goal since joining the Steelmen in December. However, Dinamo secured the win on a Shane Prince effort midway through the final frame. To compound Severstal’s unhappiness, Prince was assisted by Zack Mitchell, who rejected a move to Cherepovets in favor of going to Minsk after he left Dinamo Riga earlier in the season.

National record for Daugavins

Vityaz Moscow Region 3 Kunlun Red Star 0 (1-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Kaspars Daugavins set a record points tally for a Latvian player in a KHL season when he picked up his 45th of the season in this win for Vityaz. The prolific forward moved ahead of Andris Dzerins’ total of 44, which he set on two separate occasions.

Photo: 25.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Daugavins’ goal came on the power play on 32 minutes and put his team up 2-0 on the night. Earlier, Vityaz gained momentum in the latter stages of the first period thanks to a run of Red Star penalties and opened the scoring seconds after Tyler Wong returned to the game. Zakhar Bardakov claimed the goal after Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov’s shot deflected into the net off his back. The 19-year-old’s fifth goal of the season matched the club record for a junior set by one Artemy Panarin a decade earlier.

However, the home team had plenty of reasons to thank goalie Ilya Ezhov. He made 31 shots to record his fourth shut-out of the season and snuff out the Dragons’ offense before Jakub Jerabek scored into an empty net to seal the win.

Tsyplakov sinks Torpedo

Spartak Moscow 3 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 OT (0-0, 1-1, 1-1, 1-0)

Spartak came from behind twice to beat Torpedo in overtime in a clash between two teams fighting hard for a playoff place. The victory was not enough to put the Red-and-Whites back into the top eight in the West, but it keeps Oleg Znarok’s team level on points with Vityaz and closes the gap on Severstal and Jokerit just above them.

Photo: 25.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Spartak (Moscow) - Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)

Maxim Tsyplakov was the home hero, creating and scoring the overtime winner. The young forward burst down the right channel, got away from Andrei Belevich and headed for the net, where he beat Andrei Tikhomirov in a close-up duel and gave Spartak the win. The result ends a three-game losing streak that prompted the club’s GM, Alexei Zhamnov, to join Znarok on the bench for this game.

The first period was dominated by the dismissal of Brady Austin. The Torpedo defenseman crunched Pavel Medvedev into the boards, leaving his opponent struggling to get off the ice. Austin was handed 5+20 for boarding and, lifted by a long power play, Spartak seized the initiative in the game without finding a way to score.

In the second period, Torpedo got ahead after Spartak began piling up the penalties. A third power play in a row tipped the balance for the visitor: Chris Wideman got the puck from a face-off, moved in from the blue line and let rip with a piledriver that Julius Hudacek had no chance of stopping.

However, Spartak spent more time on the attack during the game and quickly cancelled out that goal. Sergei Shirokov left the puck on the blue line for Dmitry Vishnevsky to join the offense, and the D-man did so in style, advancing up the left channel and launching a shot past Andrei Tikhomirov. That brought up 400 points in the KHL for Shirokov, and Vishnevsky’s 50th point for Spartak.

With just eight KHL appearances before today’s game, Chris Terry is far from reaching those kind of landmarks. However, Torpedo’s recent signing kept up his point-a-game record when he fired home a Damir Zhafyarov pass to punish another Spartak penalty. With five minutes to play, Spartak needed a swift response — and a penalty on Ziyat Paigin gave the Red-and-Whites a chance to hit back immediately. Ilya Talaluyev took that chance, firing in a shot that enabled Artyom Fyodorov to tie the game. Ironically, those two players were the ones in the box for the Torpedo goals; now they combined to send the game to overtime.

Kablukov’s rare goal helps Omsk to victory

Jokerit Helsinki 2 Avangard Omsk 5 (0-1, 1-1, 1-3)

Avangard tightened its grip on the leadership of the Chernyshev Division after Ilya Kablukov’s first goal in more than two years helped the Hawks to victory in Helsinki. Jokerit drops one place in the West, falling two points behind Dinamo Minsk, but retains a three-point gap over Spartak in ninth.

The game started cautiously, but it looked like Jokerit was getting its game together midway through the first period. Brian O’Neill threatened on the wraparound and Sami Lepisto forced Igor Bobkov into a good save with a wrister. However, that momentum was lost in the 14th minute when Avangard took the lead. The visitor took its time to build play in the home end, and when the puck came back to Maxim Chudinov on the blue line, his shot was redirected into the net by Alexander Khokhlachyov.

Avangard extended its lead early in the second when Ilya Kablukov beat Janis Kalnins at the second attempt. Kablukov ended his long wait for a goal: his previous marker came back on Nov. 14, 2018 when he scored for SKA in an 8-2 win over Admiral. However, Jokerit responded strongly, pulling one goal back almost immediately through John Norman and coming agonizingly close to tying it up when a 3-on-1 rush ended with Niklas Jensen narrowly failing to touch the puck into the net.

The visitor weathered that storm and made it 3-1 at the start of the third when Sergei Tolchinsky fired an Oliwer Kaski feed in off the underside of the bar. Jokerit kept pressing and reduced the deficit through Henrik Haapala in the 47th minute but Avangard restored its two-goal advantage when Andrei Stas arrived at the back door to stuff the puck home on a delayed penalty.

Jokerit had nine minutes to save the game but instead the Finns were undone by Stas once again. This time the forward led the attack and set up Alexei Potapov for the fifth goal. Thirty seconds later, Niklas Jensen took a minor penalty for high sticks and the game was done.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
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Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Severstal (Cherepovets) Severstal (Cherepovets)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
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