Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Juha Metsola pulled out all the stops to deny Amur as Salavat Yulaev survived a fusillade and won 2-1 in the first game of the day in Khabarovsk. The big clash in the Eastern Conference saw Metallurg beat Avtomobilist 5-3, while Traktor halted Barys’ four-game streak with a 3-2 success in Kazakshan. Wins for Metallurg and Salavat Yulaev might have secured playoff places for both teams, but Sibir delayed that for at least another couple of days by defeating Neftekhimik 6-4 and retaining a theoretical chance of catching both teams.

Metsola thwarts Amur

Amur Khabarovsk 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-1)

Juha Metsola stopped 45 shots and Teemu Hartikainen potted the winning goal as Ufa’s Finns tipped the balance in Khabarovsk.

Somewhat surprisingly, Salavat Yulaev had not won at Amur since 2016, losing five times since then. Today, the visitor arrived with hopes of securing its playoff place and set out determined to put that record straight. With just five minutes played, Geoff Platt converted the first power play of the game to open the scoring. However, the home team fought back despite taking two more penalties. Salavat managed just eight shots on goal in the opening frame and was saved by the bell when Amur scored at the end of the period only to learn that the hooter sounded before the puck crossed the line.

In the second period, Amur stayed out of the box and began to press even harder on Metsola’s net. The visiting goalie faced 17 shots in the middle stanza but only one of them found the target. Alexander Sharov tied the scores in the 27th minute and for a time it looked as though Ufa’s unhappy record in Khabarovsk might continue.

However, at the start of the third, a swift attack from the visitor saw Hartikainen restore the lead. Both teams created chances as the game wore on, and Amur was unlucky when Denis Golubev’s shot rebounded off the post in the 57th minute. Salavat Yulaev held on but must wait a little longer to confirm its playoff spot after Sibir defeated Neftekhimik.

Gurkin’s double wins a wild battle

Sibir Novosibirsk 6 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 4 (3-1, 1-3, 2-0)

Neftekhimik’s playoff prospects officially ended yesterday when Torpedo picked up a point at Spartak and opened an unbridgeable gap for Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team. This season has brought many high scoring games but all too often a generous defense has been Neftekhimik’s undoing. And that was the story once again in Novosibirsk.

The home team enjoyed the first period, jumping to a 3-0 lead on goals from Yefim Gurkin, Alexander Sharov and Viktor Komarov. The difference lay not so much in the balance of play as in Sibir’s willingness to shoot at goal — as the first period drew to a close, Neftekhimik had just three shot. However, the fourth — from Alexei Volgin 12 seconds before the intermission — found the target.

In the middle frame, Neftekhimik turned the game upside down. Three goals in four minutes put the visitor in front, with Libor Hudacek, Roman Abrosimov and Jonas Enlund hitting the net. However, if scoring goals is rarely a problem for the visitor, keeping them out often is. Even before the intermission, Sibir drew level thanks to Gurkin’s second of the game — helped by an unwitting, looping deflection from Volgin’s stick.

The third period began with a fight, Evgeny Chesalin taking on Pavel Poryadin and winning on points. The next penalty went against the visitor, and Oleg Li took advantage to restore Sibir’s lead. Late in the game, Yegor Milovzorov sealed the outcome with an empty-net goal.

Quickfire double gives Traktor the edge

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (0-1, 1-2, 1-0)

Barys saw its four-game winning streak come to an end after Traktor scored two goals in a minute during the second period. The home team was without forward Matt Frattin, while the visitor made just one change, with Oleg Yevenko joining the first defensive pair.

Photo: 26.01.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Barys (Nur-Sultan) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Traktor made a fast start, hitting the post early in the game before Vitaly Kravtsov had a good chance but was denied by Joni Ortio. As the number of chances increased, so did their quality and midway through the first period Alexei Byvaltsev opened the scoring with a powerful one-timer.

Ortio did not return for the second period and for a time both teams played some cautious hockey. However, Barys gradually gained momentum and tied the game in the 33rd minute through Yegor Petukhov. However, that prompted an immediate and devastating response as Traktor scored twice in 58 seconds. Sergei Kalinin and Kravtsov were on target to take the game away from the home team.

Traktor had the better of the play at the start of the third, but was unable to convert two power play chances. Instead, Valery Orekhov pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute after a neat passing combination cut through the visiting defense. Barys thought it had saved itself in the last minute but, despite getting the puck in the net, the play was whistled off because the goal was off its moorings. Traktor held on for a second successive win.

Rasmussen’s double puts Motormen in a skid

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 (2-1, 0-1, 1-3)

Two late goals gave Metallurg the verdict in an entertaining game in Yekaterinburg. Dennis Rasmussen snapped a 3-3 tie with two minutes on the clock as Ilya Vorobyov’s team posted a fifth straight win.

Photo: 26.01.21. KHL Championship 2020/2021. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Metallurg made a flying start to this game after Avto’s Nikita Tryamkin took a penalty in the first minute. The visiting PP did its work, with Taylor Beck wiring a wrister past Jakub Kovar from the right-hand circle with just 40 seconds played. However, Avtomobilist recovered well and led at the first intermission. A play straight out of the coaching manual set up Sergei Zborovsky for the equalizer before Vyacheslav Litovchenko won the puck in his own zone and set up a counter attack with Alexei Makeyev before making it 2-1 in the 13th minute.

It wasn’t until midway through the middle frame that Metallurg got back on level terms. The visitor pressed Avtomobilist deep into its own territory and Sergei Plotnikov played the puck out from behind the net for Dennis Rasmussen to force it home from the slot.

With the game finely poised at the second intermission, a good start to the third period was vital for both teams. But Magnitka got it, going up 3-2 44 seconds into the action when Andrei Chibisov’s wrister flew off Tryamkin’s stick and beat Kovar. The Motormen responded with a power play goal from Makeyev, but only after a video review confirmed that Anatoly Golyshev’s outstretched leg had nothing to do with the shot.

That left 15 minutes to find a winner and the game was evenly poised throughout. However, with overtime looming, Magnitka settled it late. With two minutes on the clock, Beck’s backhand pass found Rasmussen on the slot to make it 4-3, then Nikolai Kulemin scored into an empty net to finish it off. For the fourth time this season, the visiting team came out on top in meetings between these clubs.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
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