Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The playoff race in the West took a new turn as Spartak moved ahead of Vityaz and into the top eight. The Red-and-Whites won 5-3 at Kunlun Red Star, while Vityaz blew a 2-0 lead to lose at Torpedo. That result secures a playoff place for Torpedo in the east, and Traktor did likewise with a 5-3 verdict at home to Neftekhimik. Metallurg recorded its eighth win in a row, beating Barys 3-1, and Ak Bars picked up a fourth successive victory at Avtomobilist. Jokerit suffered a heavy loss at Dynamo Moscow.

Magnitka keeps rolling out the wins

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Barys Nur-Sultan 1 (0-0, 1-1, 2-0)

Metallurg recorded its eighth successive victory, rolling over Barys with third period goals from Mikhail Pashnin and Nikolai Goldobin. The visitor fell to a third straight loss and still has a little work to do to formally secure a playoff place.

The first half failed to take flight, with chances at a premium at either end. Barys had slightly more of the play and came close to breaking the deadlock just before the intermission when the visitor’s passing game unlocked the home defense, only for Juho Olkinuora to deny Nikita Mikhailis.

Maybe that chance inspired Barys. The Kazakhs looked livelier at the start of the second period and took the lead in the 24th minute when Kirill Panyukov’s rush down the left ended with a wrister to the top corner. Midway through the game, Magnitka levelled. Barys ran into penalty trouble and the home team set up camp in the attacking third before Taylor Beck’s shot was deflected into the net by Andrej Nestrasil. Nikolai Kulemin’s assist brought up his 100th point in the KHL.

Metallurg steadily reasserted itself and went ahead early in the third period when Semyon Koshelev’s shot rebounded off the boards and Pashnin reacted first to score from close range. And, after killing a penalty served by Nikolai Prokhorkin, Magnitka stepped up the pressure. Prokhorkin himself broke clear to test Henrik Karlsson before the visiting goalie dealt with follow-up efforts from Sergei Plotnikov and Andrei Chibisov. However, the next attack brought a third goal. Beck and Goldobin set off on a two-man counterattack that Karlsson could not halt. With five minutes on the clock, not even a Barys power play could change the final outcome.

Traktor books playoff place

Traktor Chelyabinsk 5 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3 (3-1, 1-1, 1-1)

Two goals from Yaroslav Kosov and a hat-trick of assists from Tomas Hyka led Traktor to a 5-3 victory that confirms the team’s playoff place. Wednesday’s win opens an insurmountable gap over ninth-placed Sibir as Anvar Gatiyatullin’s team becomes the fifth to reach the Eastern post season.

Traktor went into the game without Pontus Aberg and Vitaly Kravtsov, both of whom picked up injuries in Monday’s home defeat against Ak Bars. But that did not slow down a fast start from the home team, which was up 2-0 inside nine minutes. Kosov got the first, skilfully beating Alexander Bryntsev on his way to the net, then Nick Bailen scored on the power play off a Hyka helper. The defenseman’s productive streak extends to six games, the Czech forward’s to seven.

Neftekhimik replaced its starting goalie and almost immediately got a goal back from Libor Hudacek. But right before the intermission, Hyka set up Lukas Sedlak to make it 3-1 and midway through the second period he got yet another assist as Vyacheslav Osnovin opened a three-goal lead.

The visitor, struggling near the foot of the table, did not give up. Instead Neftekhimik hit back to make it a one-goal game thanks to goals from Bulat Shafigullin and Gleb Semyonov, the latter scoring his first of the season. However, Kosov’s second of the game settled the outcome and confirmed Traktor’s playoff place.

Motormen must wait for playoff confirmation

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (1-1, 0-0, 1-2)

In three previous meetings with Ak Bars this season, Bill Peters’ team had managed just one goal. Today, Avtomobilist improved on that statistic but could not find the win that would officially secure a playoff place.

The Motormen tried to take the initiative from the start but were met with some incisive counterattacking play from Ak Bars. And that brought an early goal for the visitor when Kristian Khenkel did well to redirect and Andrei Pedan point shot into the net. However, Avto hit back quickly when Brooks Macek touched a Korbinian Holzer shot past Timur Bilyalov.

The second period brought no goals, but Ak Bars steadily took control of the game and it was little surprise when that dominance was translated to the scoreboard in the third. Jakub Kovar may feel he could have done better with the Mikhail Glukhov shot that put the visitor back in front, and the whole Avtomobilist team was left frustrated when two minutes of 5-on-3 power play failed to produce a tying goal. To make matters worse, Stephane Da Costa came out of the box to score a third for the visitor against one of his former clubs. Then came a fight between Nikita Tryamkin and Mikhail Fisenko before Andrei Obidin pulled one goal back for the home team. However, it wasn’t enough, and Ak Bars closed out a fourth straight win.

Torpedo into playoffs, Vityaz into limbo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 6 Vityaz Moscow Region 3 (1-2, 3-0, 2-1)

A second-period collapse saw Vityaz throw away a winning position at Torpedo — and the defeat might prove to be a big blow to the team’s playoff prospects.

Photo: 03.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) - Vityaz (Moscow Region)

It all started well for the visitor. Fyodor Malykhin opened the scoring after 30 seconds and Justin Danforth made it 2-0 in the 17th minute. The goal moves Danforth to 50 points for the season, one short of Alexei Kopeikin’s club record haul.

However, Torpedo knew that victory could guarantee its playoff spot and the home team hit back quickly through Chris Terry. Then came three unanswered goals in the second period as Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Ivan Chekhovich and Kirill Urakov put the home team in control.

Vityaz pulled one back at the start of the third as Zakhar Bardakov continued his impressive progress with a fourth goal in as many games. But hopes of securing a much-needed win in the push for the play-offs receded fast. Urakov got his second of the night — short-handed this time — and Andy Miele made it 6-3 late in the game. Torpedo clinches its playoff place in the East, but Vityaz drops out of the top eight in the West.

Kunlun Red Star 3 Spartak Moscow 5 (2-1, 0-1, 1-3)

Spartak returned to the top eight in the Western Conference after coming from behind to beat a spirited Kunlun Red Star.

Photo: 03.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) - Spartak (Moscow)

The first period was dominated by power play goals. Spartak scored first, through ex-Dragon Martin Bakos, but then the visitor took two penalties in quick succession and Red Star turned a 5-on-3 advantage into two goals. Ryan Sproul tied it up from the top of the right-hand circle then, from almost the same spot, Vyacheslav Leshchenko made it 2-1 with a goal against his former club.

The second period saw plenty of chances at either end, but the only goal came late in the session when Jori Lehtera’s cross-ice pass was converted by Artyom Serikov.

Spartak began the third period with a bang, scoring two goals within six seconds to take control of the game. Lukas Radil and Anatoly Nikontsev did the damage and, as news of Torpedo’s win over Vityaz came through, the Red-and-Whites allowed themselves to contemplate a return to the top eight in the West. But there was no room for complacency, as Hunter Shinkaruk reminded the visitor when he skated through on Julius Hudacek’s net to make it 4-3 with 15 minutes left. However, an empty net goal from Sergei Shirokov wrapped up the win for the visitor.

Lindberg’s double defeats Jokerit

Dynamo Moscow 5 Jokerit Helsinki 1 (2-0, 1-1, 2-0)

Dynamo recorded a fifth successive victory, with Swedish forward Oscar Lindberg scoring twice in a convincing success at home to Jokerit.

Photo: 03.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Dynamo (Moscow) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

There was incident from the opening moments, with Veli-Matti Savinainen penalized in the first minute and Dynamo taking advantage of the power play. Magnus Paajarvi Svensson was the scorer, potting the rebound after Sergeyev’s shot was padded away. The play was repeatedly interrupted by penalties for both teams, and another home power play saw Dynamo increase its lead just before the intermission through Dmitrij Jaskin. Despite this, Jokerit had the better of the play in the opening frame, outshooting the Blue-and-Whites 17-8 without finding a way past Alexander Yeryomenko.

Midway through the second period, Oscar Lindberg added a third for the home team after an error from young goalie Samuel Jukuri presented the Swedish forward with the puck. However, when Jokerit got a 5-on-3 power play it pulled a goal back through Saku Maenalanen.

The second period also saw Dynamo produce far more offense and it felt that the balance of the game was drifting away from the Finns, despite pulling a goal back. And the third confirmed Dynamo’s dominance with two more goals for the home team. Oleg Zaitsev made it 4-1 on the counterattack and another power play enabled Lindberg to score his second of the night.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
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Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
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Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
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