Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Thursday was a day of big fightbacks. Metallurg recovered a 0-4 deficit to beat Dinamo Minsk in a shoot-out, Spartak came back from 0-2 to win 6-4 at Kunlun and Ak Bars wiped out SKA’s 3-0 lead before falling in overtime. Elsewhere, Barys beat Torpedo and Vityaz got the better of Salavat Yulaev in a shoot-out.

Lilja’s double shoots down Torpedo

Barys Nur-Sultan 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (2-0, 1-1, 1-1)

Neither team made significant changes to a winning line-up for this game: Barys merely brought forward Jacob Berglund into the fourth line, while Torpedo gave Andrei Tikhomirov the start in goal.

That decision, however, rather backfired on David Nemirovsky, who reverted to Pyotr Kochetkov in the second period with his team down by three goals. In the first period, Torpedo outshot Barys 13-6 but trailed 0-2. Cody Kunyk and Jakob Lilja both found the net in that opening stanza. Making matters worse for the visitor, Mark Marin was ejected from the game late in the frame after a dirty hit on Kirill Savitsky. The Kazakh forward also retreated to the locker room and was not seen again in this game.

Torpedo killed the major penalty, but could not prevent Linden Vey from making it 3-0 in the 26th minute. For the Canadian, that’s back-to-back goals as he settles in after returning to Barys from SKA; for Tikhomirov that was the end of the evening as Nemirovsky looked to shake up his team.

The gambit came close to paying off. The visitor managed to claw back two goals, with Artyom Mikheyev and Ziyat Paigin scoring either side of the second intermission. But Lilja’s second of the game squashed any hopes of a fightback and Barys picked up a third straight win.

Vityaz crashes Ufa party

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 3 SO (1-0, 1-1, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Salavat Yulaev today celebrated its 60th anniversary, but as the club looked back over its history Vityaz came to crash the party. The Western Conference struggler overstayed its welcome here, forcing the game to overtime before winning in a shoot-out.

For two players, this was a quick reunion with former team-mates. Last week, following Ufa’s 4-2 win in Podolsk, the clubs swapped defensemen with Viktor Antipin heading to Bashkortostan and Evgeny Lisovets going the other way.

The visitor’s hopes were hampered by the absence of two imports, with Miro Aaltonen and Daniel Audette both out for this one. By contrast, Salavat welcomed back Finnish forward Markus Granlund, who missed the 0-1 reverse against Torpedo on Tuesday.

In that game, Viktor Tikhonov was one of the livelier performers for Ufa and today he got the opening goal in the sixth minute. That lead endured until the second period, when Niko Ojamaki tied it up with a short-handed effort. Late in the stanza, another home power play saw Alexander Kadeikin restore the lead, but Vityaz levelled once again at the start of the third.

That was the end of the scoring. However, in the shoot-out, Vityaz prevailed thanks to a winning shot from Ojamaki. In the absence of his fellow imports, the Finn led from the front to give his team its first win in seven attempts.

Photo: 25.11.21.KHL Championship 2021-2022. Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) - Vityaz (Moscow Region)

Magnitka rallies from 0-4

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Dinamo Minsk 4 SO (0-2, 0-2, 4-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Metallurg produced one of the best comebacks of the season, retrieving a 0-4 deficit in the third period to make it three wins from four after a rollercoaster of a game.

For 40 minutes, this was all about Dinamo. The Belarusians have fallen from their peak form, with ill health taking its toll on the team’s recent progress. Today, though, they looked to be back at their best as they dominated the league leader for much of the game. Hard work at both ends of the ice paid off: Minsk blocked shots with fervor and took their chances when they came, Alexander Suvorov and Artyom Demkov finding the net in the first period, Adam Almquist and Taylor Graovac in the second. The fourth of those goals was scored on Vasily Koshechkin who was called off the bench to replace Juho Olkinuora in the 25th minute. The Finn allowed three goals off eight shots.

However, Ilya Vorobyov clearly found the right words for his team in the second intermission. A different Metallurg emerged for the third period and began to dictate the play. Magnitka had as many shots in the third as it managed in the previous two sessions, and fought its way back into the game. Brendan Leipsic got his team on the scoreboard after three minutes and Semyon Koshelev made it 2-4 midway through the stanza. Now there was a fighting chance and when Philippe Maillet struck during a passage of four-on-four play, there were signs that Dinamo was getting nervous. A final storm saw Denis Zernov tie it up with 80 seconds to play and a game that seemed settled was suddenly heading for overtime.

The extras could not separate the teams, with Minsk digging in after the shock of losing its big lead. But in the shoot-out the visitor could find no way past Koshechkin, and successful efforts from Koshelev and Josh Currie ensured that the home team took the points.

Photo: 25.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Dinamo (Minsk)

Ak Bars fightback comes up short in OT

Ak Bars Kazan 3 SKA St. Petersburg 4 OT (0-1, 2-2, 1-0, 0-1)

Nikita Gusev had two assists and a game-winning goal while Andrei Kuzmenko potted another highlight reel effort as SKA continued its revival in Kazan. But the home team battled back from 0-3 before losing out in overtime in an absorbing clash in the Tatar capital.

After bouncing back from a six-game skid with an impressive 8-2 win at Neftekhimik, SKA remained in Tatarstan for a much bigger test. Up against perennial heavyweight Ak Bars, the Army Men had a chance to prove that their recent problems really were a thing of the past. And, while that may not be true for the entire roster, Andrei Kuzmenko is certainly back to what he does best. Check out his opening goal in the 13th minute of this one — it’s heading straight for the highlight reels. A cheeky little toe-drag starts it off then, in case we hadn’t seen enough, he turned Roman Rukavishnikov inside out before scoring on Timur Bilyalov.

That was the only goal of the opening frame, but Kuzya still had a contribution to make. His pass from beyond the goal line set up Anton Burdasov for a power play goal early in the second period, doubling the SKA lead. And when Mat Robinson added a third, it looked like game over.

Ak Bars had other ideas, though. Nikita Dynyak pulled one back and SKA’s protest that Kirill Panyukov obstructed young goalie Dmitry Nikolayev merely earned a bench minor after an unsuccessful challenge. That penalty saw Ak Bars make it 2-3 with Steven Kampfer reducing the deficit still further.

Early in the third, Jordan Weal completed the comeback. The home team gained momentum on the power play and tied it up shortly after Mikhail Vorobyov left the box. It was a well-worked move, with Konstantin Luchevnikov spraying the puck out left to Dmitry Yudin, who fired it to the slot for Weal to redirect past Nikolayev. However, Weal then took a penalty and Kuzmenko twice threatened to score himself before setting up Robinson from close range. That effort, though, was ruled out after a review due to interference on Bilyalov. SKA’s luck with the video verdicts shows no sign of improving.

The closing stages saw the visitor on top, but not even a late power play could bring SKA the verdict inside 60 minutes. That penalty carried on into overtime, and Ak Bars managed to kill it off before losing out to Nikita Gusev’s game winner.

Photo: 25.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Ak Bars (Kazan) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

Spartak back into the top eight

Kunlun Red Star 4 Spartak Moscow 6 (2-2, 1-4, 1-0)

Spartak rallied from 0-2 to pick up an important win in a high scoring game at Kunlun. Jori Lehtera had four points, and there were two goals apiece for Alexander Nikishin and Alexander Khokhlachyov as Boris Mironov’s team overtakes Torpedo and returns to the playoff zone.

Kunlun got off to a great start. Brandon Yip, back in the team after a two-game ban, had an assist on Cliff Pu’s early opener. Parker Foo then hit the crossbar before Spencer Foo’s 10th of the season made it 2-0 on 6:50.

Spartak needed a quick response, and got it when Emil Pettersson fired home from the right-hand channel barely a minute later. Jori Lehtera started that move, and the Finn was involved again when Alexander Khokhlachyov tied the scores in the 15th minute.

Red Star’s evening got worse when Tyler Wong took the game’s first penalty at the start of the second period. Spartak made him pay, with Alexander Nikishin firing a Jake Virtanen feed beyond Alexander Lazushin. Nikishin and Khokhlachyov went on to get their second goals of the game, with Lehtera picking up his third assist of the night, before Jake Chelios pulled one back for the home team. By now, though, Spartak was on top and Lehtera continued his fine individual performance with a goal to make it 6-3.

And that was a big enough lead to secure the verdict. After a rush of goals early in the game, the third period produced no further scoring as Spartak closed out the victory, despite a late consolation effort from Parker Foo. The Red-and-Whites made it three wins from four and, more importantly, returned to the top eight ahead of Torpedo.

Photo: 25.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Kunlun Red Star - Spartak (Moscow)

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
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