Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Wednesday’s play was dominated by goalscoring feats. Vadim Shipachyov’s 250th KHL goal helped Dynamo to victory in the Moscow derby against CSKA. In St. Petersburg, Alexander Polunin hit a hat-trick to give Lokomotiv a 3-1 win at SKA, overshadowing Leo Komarov’s return to the league. Elsewhere, Yegor Popov scored a fine goal to help Neftekhimik beat Avtomobilist, top two Metallurg and Traktor both won, and there was success on the road for Severstal and Avangard.

Improving Neftekhimik puts the pressure on Avto

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 4 (1-1, 0-2, 2-1)

The home team’s unhappy run continues. After losing its last three games before the international break, Avtomobilist returned to action and suffered another defeat. Neftekhimik, meanwhile, improved on Monday’s overtime loss at Sibir to make it three wins from four.

The Motormen made a strong start to the game, playing a high-tempo game that quickly carved out presentable opportunities in front of Alexander Sudnitsin’s net. However, Neftekhimik stuck to its plan, withstanding the initial onslaught and looking for chances to counter. The plan worked well: a breakaway late in the frame enabled Bulat Shafigullin to open the scoring with help from a goaltending blunder. However, the visitor could not consolidate on that lead. Ronald Knot was sent to the box and it took just 13 seconds for Ryan Spooner to get the power play goal.

Neftekhimik began the second stanza on the PK, but this time the visitor grabbed a short-handed goal when Shafigullin pass was brilliantly finished off by Ansel Galimov. And Avtomobilist’s problems continued: Neftekhimik, inspired, picked up the pace and dominated the game. The logical outcome was a third goal and when it came, from Yegor Popov, it was a beauty. Popov joined a rush with Dan Sexton and produced the moves to sit goalie Vladimir Galkin on his backside before scoring into the unguarded net. With the home defense struggling, the only surprise was that we did not see more scoring.

The final stanza brought little relief for Avtomobilist. Six of the first eight minutes were spent on the penalty kill and the clock was beginning to count against the host. However, midway through the action Marat Khairullin took a penalty and the Motormen grabbed a lifeline with a second power play marker of the night, this time from Sergei Shumakov. Again, though, there was a swift response with Sergei Kuptsov scoring his second goal in two games on a try-out deal. He’ll be expecting to sign a full contract soon after getting the game-winner here; Stephane Da Costa’s response for Avtomobilist was too late to change the outcome.

Magnitka rallies from a slow start

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Amur Khabarovsk 2 (0-2, 3-0, 2-0)

League leader Metallurg trailed by two at the first intermission but responded well to deliver a comfortable victory and remain clear of second placed Traktor. Ilya Vorobyov’s men snapped a three-game losing streak as the playoff chasing Tigers proved unable to build on a three-game winning run.

It all started well enough for the visitor, though. Radan Lenc, who got the overtime winner on Monday, opened the scoring after seven minutes and Michal Jordan doubled that lead with a power play goal.

However, Magnitka responded in the second period and turned the game around, just as it did when the teams met in September and Amur again jumped to a two-goal lead. Philippe Maillet gave Metallurg the start it needed after two minutes, then Artyom Minulin celebrated his return to the team with a goal. Next, on the power play, Linus Hultstrom thumped a shot narrowly wide and Nikolai Goldobin was on hand to steer home the rebound and put Metallurg ahead.

The turnaround drained Amur of its strength, and the impact of a long road trip also took its toll. In the third period, the visitor struggled to find a way back into the game and fell further behind. Nikita Korostelyov extended the lead and Semyon Koshelev completed the scoring with a short-handed goal in the 48th minute.

Traktor wins fifth in a row

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 SO (1-0, 1-2, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Two in-form teams met in Chelyabinsk and it took a shoot-out to separate them. Both teams arrived on four-game winning streaks, with Traktor jockeying for position at the top of the championship and Sibir looking to consolidate its place in the top eight.

The visitor made the livelier start, only to fall behind from Traktor’s first significant forward foray: Vyacheslav Osnovin opened the scoring, converting a well-worked move. That did not greatly dismay Sibir, with Roman Will pressed into several big saves to preserve that 1-0 advantage.

Looking to change the pattern of play, the home team began the second period with a fusillade of shots on goal. Nikita Tertyshny extended the lead on the power play and the home fans began to relax a little. But Sibir is made of stern stuff these days and was quick to get back to what it did so well in the first period — this time with the added bonus of taking its chances. Yegor Milovzorov and Evgeny Chesalin found the keys to Will and the scores were tied by the second intermission.

After trading almost 50 shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes, things slowed down in the third. Both teams were aware of the high price for any mistake and the game became more cautious as a result. There was no more scoring in regulation, nor in overtime, despite Denis Golubev’s solo run that forced another big stop from Will. And the Czech goalie proved flawless in the shoot-out, helping Traktor to get the win thanks to Vladimir Tkachyov’s successful attempt.

Severstal bounces back

Dinamo Minsk 3 Severstal Cherepovets 4 SO (0-0, 3-2, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Severstal shrugged off Monday’s loss to CSKA, which brought a club record winning streak to an end, and bounced back with a hard-fought shoot-out triumph in Minsk.

The first period was shot on goalmouth incident, despite three power play opportunities for the visitor. But the second stanza made up for that with the teams sharing five goals. Severstal led twice on tallies from Ivan Yemets and Nikolai Timashov, but the visitor still trailed at the intermission after Nikita Pyshkailo and Lukas Bengtsson scored in quick succession at the end of the frame. For Pyshkailo, 21, that was his first KHL goal in only his third game in the league.

It was not, however, in a winning cause. Daniil Vovchenko, fresh from his international action with Russia at the weekend, tied the scores early in the third. And the same player underlined his importance to the Steelmen with the shoot-out winner.

Avangard too strong for Red Star

Kunlun Red Star 1 Avangard Omsk 4 (0-0, 0-1, 1-3)

Avangard goalie Simon Hrubec came into this game against his former club with back-to-back shut-outs to his name — one of them against the Dragons on Saturday in Balashikha. However, he was unable to add a third blank game, beaten by Jake Chelios early in the third period.

That did not deny the Hawks a third successive victory. Bob Hartley’s team seemed to have settled somewhat during the international break and has returned to action in a rich vein of form. Young forward Arseny Gritsyuk, in particular, is making the most of his return from injury — today he scored for the third game running, moving on to nine for the season when he found the empty net to seal Avangard’s victory.

Red Star, once again playing in front of IIHF experts who are expected to report back on whether China can compete at the upcoming Olympics, needed some positives from the visit of the defending champion. Most of the good news for the Dragons came in the first period, which was an even contest. At the start of the second, a good chance for Josh Nicholls might have given KRS the lead, but within moments the puck was in the home net. This time, though, there was a reprieve: Vladimir Bryukvin clearly impeded netminder Jeremy Smith before Nikolai Prokhorkin scored. The bench challenge was upheld and it remained 0-0.

However, a power play saw Avangard go ahead in the 27th minute when Peter Cehlarik dished off the puck for Oliwer Kaski to power home a shot from the blue line. From that point on, Avangard dominated — the shot count for the middle frame read 15-3 in the visitor’s favor — and it was little surprise when Nikita Soshnikov extended the lead in the 49th minute. However, Red Star wasn’t done and Chelios pulled a goal back within seconds to keep the game alive. It wasn’t until the 57th minute that Avangard made the game safe: Pavel Dedunov potted a third before Gritsyuk wrapped up the verdict 90 seconds from the end.

Photo: 17.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Kunlun Red Star - Avangard (Omsk)

Polunin shoots down SKA

SKA St. Petersburg 1 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 (0-1, 0-1, 1-1)

Alexander Polunin’s hat-trick gave Lokomotiv the verdict at SKA, sending the Army Men to a fourth successive loss. Today’s game was supposed to be all about Leo Komarov’s debut for the Petersburg club following his move from the Islanders. But the former Dynamo Moscow favorite was upstaged by Polunin, a 24-year-old who has been with Loko since 2014 but spent seasons at Sochi and, last time out, Amur as he looked to develop as player.

This was very much Polunin’s day. He grabbed the opening goal in the fifth minute after Yegor Korshkov’s hard work on the back boards got the puck to the slot for Alexander to beat Lars Johansson at the second attempt. That was the difference between the teams after a first period which saw just one shot on goal from SKA as the Lokomotiv defense put in a huge shift to block almost everything that came at Eddie Pasquale’s net.

At the start of the second period, the Korshkov-Polunin combination paid off once again. This time it was a pass inside from the right-hand boards that set up Polunin’s second of the game. SKA began to give Pasquale more to do in the middle frame, with Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi and Nikita Gusev among those to test the visiting netminder.

Early in the third, Polunin completed his treble, this time scoring on the wraparound off a Pavel Kraskovsky assist, and the game was getting away from the Army Men. The home team did manage to find a way past Pasquale 24 seconds later, with Anton Burdasov finally solving the Canadian goaltender, but despite SKA’s dominance in the closing stages, Valery Bragin’s team would get no closer.

Photo: 17.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

250 goals for Shipachyov

CSKA Moscow 2 Dynamo Moscow 3 SO (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Dynamo won the latest instalment of this capital city derby thanks to a landmark goal from Vadim Shipachyov and a shoot-out winner from Eric O’Dell. The result snapped CSKA’s four-game winning streak and avenged a 0-3 loss on home ice for the Blue-and-Whites earlier in the season.

It was also a third successive win against strong opposition for Alexei Kudashov’s team, which had previously overcome Avangard and Jokerit. That suggests that Dynamo’s indifferent form from October might be behind it at last.

Not that the visitor had everything its own way here. CSKA had much the better of the first period and arguably deserved more than a single Semyon Pankratov goal for its efforts. That was Pankratov’s first goal of the season, and it was answered in the middle frame by another, more significant milestone from one of the KHL’s top players. Vadim Shipachyov, Dynamo’s captain, continues to lead by example. Today he scored his 250th goal in the league when he picked up the loose puck after Andrei Mironov failed to make a clean contact with his shooting chance. At that point, Dynamo might have seized the initiative but an untimely penalty for O’Dell slowed the visitor’s progress.

For much of the third period, it felt like a case of ‘next goal wins’. However, when Dmitry Rashevsky put Dynamo in front in the 55th minute, it proved to be insufficient. CSKA redoubled its attacking efforts and, with just over two minutes left, Konstantin Okulov tied the scores with a stinging shot on the turn that flashed in off the far post.

Overtime proved goalless, despite CSKA pulling its goalie for a fourth skater with a minute to play — despite the absence of any delayed penalty. Stas Galiyev almost found the empty net, but fluffed his lines and the game went to a shoot-out. CSKA was unable to convert any of its attempts, and O’Dell claimed the winner effort.

Photo: 17.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. CSKA (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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