Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru
Dmitrij Jaskin scored his 35th of the season in a 6-4 win over Dinamo Minsk. That gives him 35 goals for the regular season, the best for Dynamo in the KHL. Elsewhere, there was late drama as Avangard tied its game at Barys with five seconds left and Metallurg levelled at Traktor in the final second. In both cases, though, last-gasp goals led to overtime losses. In the Western playoff race, Vityaz and Spartak both suffered defeats away at CSKA and SKA respectively. The two remain deadlocked on 56 points — but only one is in the top eight. Both sets of Army Men won their respective divisions with Tuesday’s victories. Lokomotiv snapped a three-game losing streak to win at Severstal, and there were victories for Sibir, Amur and Kunlun Red Star in the East.

Tigers show pride in overtime win

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 OT (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Avtomobilist, already assured of its playoff place, could afford to set out on this Far East expedition without captain Pavel Datsyuk. The Magic Man is staying home to rest and will rejoin the team back in Yekaterinburg before the post season starts.

Initially, his absence had little impact on his team. Avto dominated the first period, but spurned three power plays and went into the intermission deadlocked at 0-0. In the second, though, after killing a double minor on Nikita Tryamkin, the visitor went in front when Amur suffered a similar penalty. Chay Genoway’s long pass released Georgy Belousov for the opening goal in the 28th minute. Goalie Jakub Kovar collected his fifth assist of the season on that goal, matching the KHL record score for a goalie in a regular season.

Amur’s playoff hopes ended some time ago, but the Tigers are still playing for pride. And the home team battled back thanks to an equalizer from Kirill Rasskazov early in the third. In overtime, Amur grabbed the win thanks to Michal Jordan: he won possession in his own zone, moved up the ice and finished off the rush himself after exchanging passes with Denis Golubev.

Sibir wins with just one import

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 OT (1-0, 0-0, 0-1, 1-0)

Both of these teams are out of the playoff reckoning, but Neftekhimik is still battling with Kunlun Red Star to avoid the Eastern Conference basement. Today’s overtime loss, coupled with Red Star’s win, puts Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team one point adrift at the foot of the table.

Sibir had to do without three of its Finns. After a long trip home from international duty, Juuso Puustinen and Mikael Ruohomaa were unable to play against their first KHL club while goalie Harri Sateri was another suffering from jet lag. However, the Finnish connection in Siberia is bigger than those three, and it was Jyrki Jokipakka who opened the scoring in the first period.

The second period produced no further goals, but Neftekhimik looked the more likely team and managed to level the scores in the third. Linus Johansson struck early in the frame and that sent the game into overtime. It was starting to look like a shoot-out was inevitable as the extras ticked by, but 14 seconds before the hooter, Viktor Komarov won it for Sibir.

Mikhailis at the double to down Avangard

Barys Nur-Sultan 3 Avangard Omsk 2 OT (1-1, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

At the weekend, Nikita Mikhailis scored twice to give team Kazakhstan victory over Russia ‘B’ in the Kazakhstan Hockey Open. Today, he repeated that trick to earn Barys an overtime verdict against Avangard. The visitor escaped defeat in regulation thanks to a goal five seconds before the hooter, but lost in overtime when Mikhailis found the net once more.

Avangard boasts the best penalty kill in the league this season. However, when the game began with four visits to the box, even the Hawks struggled to remain airborne. The visitor killed the first two, but failed to survive a 3-on-5 situation and Alikhan Asetov put Barys ahead. Avangard also has a highly efficient power play, though, and when it got its chance, Reid Boucher took advantage to tie the game.

Mikhailis scored his first goal midway through the second period to restore the Barys lead. But the visitor responded by seizing the initiative in the third and piling the pressure onto Henrik Karlsson’s net. It went to the wire, but in a final surge Avangard tied the game through Corban Knight seconds before the hooter. That goal means that Ak Bars will have to wait a bit longer before declaring itself top dog in the Eastern Conference; Avangard, theoretically, can still reach the leader.

But there was no chance of clawing back another point in that race. Denis Zernov took a penalty for high sticking and Mikhailis converted the chance to give Barys the win.

Power play goals and late drama in Chelyabinsk

Traktor Chelyabinsk 4 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 OT (1-1, 1-0, 1-2, 1-0)

If Avangard’s tying goal came late in the game, it seemed almost premature compared with Metallurg’s effort. This south Ural derby went to the final second before the visitor made it 3-3 and forced the action into overtime. Like Avangard, though, the visitor was unable to ride that momentum all the way to victory; Nick Bailen gave Traktor the verdict and cost Metallurg the chance to guarantee its top-four finish today.

Photo: 16.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Traktor (Chelyabinsk) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Midway through the first period Traktor got in front. It started with a skirmish around Magnitka’s net which resulted in four players picking up roughing minors. Metallurg’s Mikhail Pashnin, viewed as the instigator, got a double minor and that gave the home team a power play for Denis Bodrov to open the scoring. The penalties kept coming — by the end of the evening, the teams would share 44 points — and Andrej Nestrasil tied it up on a power play in the 18th minute.

The second period was evenly fought, and the key moment came, inevitably, on the power play. Metallurg was reduced to three skaters after penalties on Philip Holm and Pashnin. Tomas Hyka fired in a shot, and the puck flew off Lukas Sedlak’s leg into the net. A video review confirmed that the goal was good, and Traktor took a lead into the third period.

However, the home team did not take an improve sense of discipline into the closing stages. Instead, Metallurg enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage of its own and duly tied the scores through Taylor Beck. Yet another penalty seemed to hand Traktor a decisive advantage, with Daniil Ilyin making it 3-2 in the 57th minute while Nikolai Kulemin sat out a holding call. However, after five power play goals, Metallurg finally got one while the penalty box was empty. Even so, the teams were not at equal strength, with the visitor deploying an extra skater in a last-gasp bid to save the game. Sergei Plotnikov got the vital goal one second before the hooter, taking us into overtime. In the extras, unusually, neither team managed to take a penalty in the 69 seconds required for Bailen to find the winning goal.

Mozik lifts Red Star from the foot of the table

Kunlun Red Star 4 HC Sochi 2 (1-1, 2-1, 1-0)

Vojtech Mozik was the Dragons’ hero as Red Star won back-to-back games for the first time in 2021. The Czech defenseman scored twice and collected an assist as Sochi suffered a second defeat of the season to the Chinese franchise.

The visitor started well enough and opened the scoring through Daniil Miromanov in the seventh minute, but just before the intermission Mozik’s long shot went through traffic and beat Ivan Kulbakov in the Leopards’ net. Then Mozik put KRS in front in the second period, finishing off a delicious no-look feed from Anton Lazarev.

The teams traded power play goals late in the middle frame, with Vasily Glotov tying the scores before Mozik turned provider to set up Ethan Werek on the slot. Werek’s productive streak now extends to four games. The third period saw Red Star continue to have the better of the play and the home win was confirmed in the last minute when Ryan Sproul scored an empty net goal with a shot from his own goal line.

Severstal fightback falls short

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 (0-2, 2-0, 0-1)

Playoff chasing Severstal battled back from 0-2 to tie this game with Lokomotiv, but the Railwaymen found a way to win it in the third.

Lokomotiv started impressively, dominating the first period and converting its pressure into goals. Yegor Averin opened the scoring midway through the first and Andre Petersson, who had an assist on the first goal, doubled the lead just before the intermission.

Severstal responded by replacing starting goalie Vladislav Podyapolsky with Dmitry Shugayev. That made a difference at the other end of the ice: having managed just three shots at Eddie Pasquale in the first period, the Steelmen stepped up the tempo at last. Midway through the session, Igor Geraskin did well on the rebound to halve the deficit. Then, Adam Liska was left all alone on the slot to tie the scores.

However, Severstal was unable to push on and secure the win. Instead, Vladimir Tkachyov’s 100th KHL goal put Lokomotiv back in front and the visitor held on to snap a three-game losing streak and consolidate its grip on fourth place.

Dynamo clinches top-four finish

Dinamo Minsk 4 Dynamo Moscow 6 (1-2, 1-3, 2-1)

A 10-goal thriller in Minsk finished with Dynamo getting the win it needs to secure a top-four place in the Western Conference and earn home ice advantage at the start of the playoffs. Minsk, meanwhile, might look at some defensive lapses as it tries to guarantee a top-eight finish of its own.

The first period scoring came in a flurry at the end of the frame. First, Dynamo took the lead with a well-worked goal. Ilya Shipov moved into the Minsk zone and sent the puck left to Oleg Zaitsev. His first-time pass picked out Ivan Muranov, who beat Dominik Furch to open the scoring in the 16th minute. However, the home team had enjoyed the better of the play in the opening session and got its reward almost immediately when a penalty on Dmitrij Jaskin enabled Brandon Kozun to convert the rebound from a Brennan Menell point shot. But the home team had barely finished celebrating when it found itself short-handed and Andrei Sergeyev restored Moscow’s lead.

Another power play goal saw the Russians extend their advantage in the second period. Vadim Shipachyov combined with Jaskin to set up Dmitry Kagarlitsky and his shot from a tight angle squeezed beyond Furch and into the net. Once again, the goals came in a rush. Ilya Shinkevich pulled one back for Minsk almost immediately, but a defensive lapse presented Jaskin with a gilt-edged chance to make it 4-2 — and the Czech marksman doesn’t miss those. The goal takes the Czech international to 35 goals for the campaign, the best ever by a Dynamo Moscow player in a KHL regular season.

Late in the middle frame, Kagarlitsky got his second of the game to finish another nice piece of play by Dynamo and secure a deserved lead for the Muscovites.

It was a long way back for Minsk, but the home team had a brave attempt and reduced the deficit midway through the third when Denis Mosalyov scored against his former club. However, the visitor stamped on those hopes quickly, with Sergeyev making it 6-3 barely a minute later. Shane Prince had the final word with a consolation goal for the home team, but Dynamo would not be denied.

CSKA wins Tarasov Division

CSKA Moscow 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 1 (1-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Western Conference leader CSKA reeled off a fifth consecutive victory to leave Vityaz still deadlocked with Spartak in a tense battle for a playoff place. The home win also gives the Army Men top spot in the Tarasov Division, guaranteeing a top-two finish in the Conference and home-ice advantage in the first two rounds of playoff action.

Photo: 16.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. CSKA (Moscow) - Vityaz (Moscow Region)

CSKA opened the scoring on its first power play of the game, with Andrei Loktionov converting the rebound after Mat Robinson’s shot was saved. But Vityaz replied and tied the game on the next attack when Artyom Borodkin forced the puck home after it pinballed around in front of Lars Johansson.

Early in the second period, John Gilmour restored the home lead. The Canadian defenseman joined the rush at speed and produced a backhand finish that recalled Pavel Datsyuk. At the other end, it took a fantastic save from Johansson to preserve that lead before the break as Vityaz pressed on the power play and Justin Danforth shot from an acute angle. The Swede was off his line but recovered to steal the free-scoring Canadian’s 23rd goal of the season.

The visitor’s frustration increased at the start of the third, when Yegor Afanasyev surged forward and set up captain Sergei Andronov for a third goal. That proved to be too much for Vityaz as CSKA closed out the win.

SKA takes Bobrov crown

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Spartak Moscow 1 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1)

Oleg Znarok travelled to St. Petersburg hoping to take points away from SKA, the club he led to Gagarin Cup glory in 2017. This season, the coach’s Spartak team is in a desperate battle to secure its playoff place — one that looks set to go all the way to a final-day showdown against Vityaz.

Photo: 16.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Spartak (Moscow)

However, with almost 9,000 fans in the building — another encouraging sign that things are slowly returning to normal for hockey lovers — SKA was in no mood to offer its old coach any favors. The home team could secure top spot in the Bobrov Division with a win tonight, and duly did so.

Despite welcoming back Alexander Nikishin and Ilya Zubov after long injury lay-offs, Spartak fell behind early on with the Red-and-Whites’ frailties all-too-cruelly exposed. Znarok’s team coughed up the puck on the blue line, Malte Stromwall intercepted and raced through on goal before beating Julius Hudacek. The visitor outshot SKA in the first period but struggled to seriously test Magnus Hellberg.

The second period brought intense Spartak pressure — so much so that SKA called a time-out in the 26th minute to calm the situation. That tactic worked and shortly after the halfway mark the Army Men extended the lead with a power play goal. Linden Vey passed the puck along the blue line and Dinar Khafizullin fired over Hudacek’s glove from the point for his first goal of the season.

Any doubts about the outcome were removed late in the game when Stromwall got his second of the night. The Swede, one of seven imports on SKA’s roster, has struggled for game time but made a good case for more action with his performance tonight. Spartak managed to score a late power play goal from Dmitry Vishnevsky but that merely cost Hellberg his shut-out and did little to affect the final outcome.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

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