Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Sunday was a double derby day in the KHL, with Spartak and Ak Bars securing local bragging rights after defeating Dynamo and Neftekhimik respectively. Table-topping Metallurg consolidated top spot with a comfortable win at Kunlun Red Star, but Traktor dropped points in a defeat at Dinamo Minsk. Earlier in the day, Sochi romped to a club record 8-2 victory at Admiral while Amur handed Salavat Yulaev a fourth straight defeat and Sibir shot down Avtomobilist.

A great eight for Sochi

Admiral Vladivostok 2 HC Sochi 8 (1-1, 1-4, 0-3)

Sochi powered to a club record victory with this thrashing of Admiral. After an even first period, the Leopards ran away with the game in the second and kept up that pressure in the final stanza to celebrate an emphatic win. Admiral, meanwhile, has now allowed 13 goals in its last two games.

Admiral was the first to show in this one, forcing Maxim Tretyak into a big save from a counter attack in the second minute. And the home team build on that momentum, taking the lead in the eighth minute through Vladislav Ushenin’s power play goal. However, Sochi responded well to that setback and soon began to dominate the action. It was little surprise when Janis Jaks tied the game in the 15th minute.

The result was decided in a five-minute blast at the start of the second frame. Sochi scored twice in the 22nd minute — David Rundblad and Kirill Melnichenko on target, the latter getting his second in the KHL — and stretched the lead to 5-1 by 25:51. The visitor even had time to kill a penalty in the midst of all that scoring; home goalie Nikita Serebryakov was duly replaced by Ivan Nalimov.

Shortly after that, Artyom Gareyev got one back for the host on the power play, and the latter part of the middle frame saw a pause in the scoring.

Sochi picked it up again midway through the third with another pair of quick goals. Dmitry Kolgotin and Martin Bakos found the net 21 seconds apart before Amir Garayev completed the rout with a power play goal in the 55th minute. Sochi stretches its winning run to four games.

Ufa’s slump continues as Tigers show their teeth

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

Salavat Yulaev’s struggles continue, with Tomi Lamsa’s team suffering a fourth straight loss. The team began its Far Eastern tour looking to bounce back from home defeats against Torpedo and Vityaz, but ran into an Amur team battling to stay in touch with the playoff places. A winning end to a four-game home stand moves the Tigers within two points of eighth-placed Avtomobilist, although the Motormen have two games in hand.

Among the changes that Lamsa made in a bid to stop the rot for Ufa, the decision to move Teemu Hartikainen to the third line was the most eye-catching. And, initially, it brought results: Hartikainen himself opened the scoring in the eighth minute. Salavat Yulaev had the puck in Evgeny Alikin’s net before that, but Viktor Tikhonov’s high stick wiped out his team’s third-minute effort.

However, the lead lasted just 10 seconds before Danil Faizullin tied it up. And in the middle frame, Amur moved ahead on a goal from David Tomasek. After that, good work from Alikin blunted the visiting offense and, late in the stanza, Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov was denied by the post when the home team seemed certain to increase its lead.

The first two periods were evenly matched but in the third Salavat Yulaev started to dominate the play. However, the Amur defense was resolute and Alikin kept the visitor at bay to secure the win.

Li steers Sibir past Avto

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Oleg Li’s three-point haul lifted Sibir to victory over Avtomobilist and gives the home team a five-point advantage over Sunday’s opponent. The Motormen remain inconsistent: following a 5-1 win at Admiral, Bill Peters’ team was looking to consolidate its top-eight position but failed to make much headway against a team enjoying a run of 12 wins in 15 games.

Throughout the season, Avtomobilist has tried to get a fast start in its games. However, recently this tactic has failed to deliver the opening goal and today was no exception. Sibir absorbed the early pressure and grabbed the lead on its first meaningful attack thanks to a goal from Ilya Morozov. The defenseman’s appearance at the other end of the ice surprised the visiting defense; his finish was too good for Dmitry Shikin.

At the other end, Harri Sateri was having another good game, but even he was unable to deny Alexei Makeyev. The visiting forward made a solo rush and added to his hat-trick in the previous game to tie the scores in the second period. For a time, Avto looked capable of turning the game around and for a time the visitor was able to push Sibir back into its own territory.

The home team had to wait until midway through the third period before regaining the lead. Given the weaknesses of Sibir’s power play this season, a minor penalty for Nikita Tryamkin did not seem like a huge danger for Avtomobilist. However, right from the face-off the home team grabbed possession and set up Li to make it 2-1. From penalty to goal took just six seconds. Avtomobilist’s problems intensified when injury ruled goalscorer Makeyev out of the closing stages of the game. In his absence, the visiting offense was blunted and the final act was Valentin Pyanov’s empty net goal to make it 3-1 for Sibir.

Fast start settles Moscow derby

Spartak Moscow 4 Dynamo Moscow 1 (3-0, 0-1, 1-0)

Moscow is Red-and-White tonight after Spartak made a blistering start to its capital city derby against Dynamo. Three goals inside five minutes at the start of this game gave the visitor far too much to do.

Spartak’s fast start went against recent form. It was more than a month since the team last opened the scoring in a KHL game, but once Alexander Khokhlachyov struck after 58 seconds, the host went goal crazy. Ivan Drozdov potted the second on 2:28, assisted by former Dynamo forward Alexander Avtsin, then Sergei Shirokov grabbed a power play goal in the fifth minute to give Spartak a commanding lead.

Starting goalie Alexander Yeryomenko was replaced by Ivan Bocharov and, for a time, things calmed down. Dynamo began to enjoy more of the play, but its efforts to get back into the game were hampered by Spartak’s dominance on the face-off spot. It wasn’t until midway through the second period that Stanislav Galiyev got the visitor off the mark, stretching his productive streak to five games. However, any momentum that might have developed after that goal dissipated all too fast as the Dynamo ran into penalty trouble and Spartak got itself a 5-on-3 power play.

Galiyev’s goal gave Dynamo some hope of a fightback — and its previous game featured Traktor recovering from 1-5 to force overtime — but Spartak was in no mood to relax its grip in the third period. Emil Pettersson added a fourth midway through the final frame and that confirmed the end of Dynamo’s six-game winning streak.

Photo: 28.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Spartak (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

Neftekhimik denied in the final second

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 3 SO (1-0, 1-0, 0-2, 0-0, 0-1)

It was derby day in Tatarstan as well, with Neftekhimik meeting Ak Bars for the first time this season. The visitor welcomed back Par Lindholm and Ilya Safonov but was without Danis Zaripov. For the home team, Frans Tuohimaa started in goal for the first time since Oct. 24.

Neftekhimik is traditionally the underdog in these affairs, but the home team was given the perfect opportunity at the start of the game when two visiting players followed each other into the box just 20 seconds apart. It was a gift that Nizhnekamsk gratefully accepted: Lukas Klok fired a shot against the post and, before Timur Bilyalov could react, Yegor Popov potted the rebound. Ak Bars looked sluggish for long periods, struggling to test Tuohimaa as the visitor failed to make much of an impact in the opening frame.

The next goal came late in the second period when Timur Khafizov got a second power play goal for Neftekhimik. Prior to that, Ak Bars fluffed three opportunities to press with a man advantage with Dmitry Kvartalnov’s special teams looking decidedly weak at present.

It wasn’t clear how Ak Bars could get back into the game in the third period, but the visitor dug deep to find a way to save itself. Daniil Tarasov finally got his team on the scoreboard in the 48th minute and almost immediately afterwards it took a bench challenge to deny Ak Bars a second — the video showed that the puck had not fully crossed the line. By now, though, the balance of the game had changed and the men in green were dominant. Even so, it took a dramatic conclusion to deny Neftekhimik the win: Kirill Petrov grabbed the tying goal in the final second.

Overtime saw Ak Bars survive a penalty on Nikita Lyamkin, with Bilyalov making seven saves to deny Neftekhimik. Then came the shoot-out, settled in the second round of sudden death by Jordan Weal.

Photo: 28.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

Dinamo snaps losing run

Dinamo Minsk 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 (1-0, 1-0, 0-1)

On the face of it, Dinamo’s six-game skid suggested a team in poor form. Closer inspection, though, shows that four of those games went to shoot-outs; maybe the Belarusians are not so far off their game after all. Traktor, too, has a recent history of forcing overtime. Late goals at Lokomotiv and Dynamo Moscow saved Chelyabinsk from regulation losses in dramatic fashion.

Today, though, there was no overtime. Minsk opened the scoring midway through the first period on Nikita Pyshkailo’s second goal of the season. The 21-year-old has only just broken into the team, making his fourth appearance today, and made it back-to-back tallies after finding the net against Severstal last time out.

That was the only score in a tight first period, and early in the second Traktor had a great chance to level when Pyshkailo was followed into the box by Lukas Bengtsson. However, Traktor could not convert despite more than 90 seconds with a two-man advantage, nor could Dinamo capitalize on Sergei Kalinin’s double minor shortly afterwards. The second goal eventually went to Dmitry Korobov late in the middle frame.

In the third, it was Dinamo’s turn to spurn a 5-on-3 power play. After that, Traktor’s special teams finally clicked and Teemu Pulkkinen got his team back in the game with a goal on the PP. The Finn began his KHL career in Minsk and marked his return by handing his new colleagues a lifeline. Subsequently, though, the game was dominated by penalties; neither team could establish much of a rhythm and the host was able to close out a much-needed win.

Photo: 28.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Dinamo (Minsk) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

League leader too strong for Dragons

Kunlun Red Star 1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 (1-2, 0-1, 0-2)

Table-topping Metallurg eased to a third successive victory at Kunlun, scoring on the first shift of the game and going on to dominate throughout.

The opening goal arrived after just 15 seconds, with Andrei Chibisov converting Josh Currie’s feed. The home bench appealed for offside, believing Chibisov had crossed the blue line before Artyom Zemchyonok’s long pass skittered into the home zone via a deflection in center ice, but the video review upheld the on-ice verdict. 1-0 Metallurg, and a bench minor for Red Star.

The home team survived that penalty, but allowed a second goal on the breakaway when Nikolai Goldobin got clear. A power play goal from Tyler Wong gave the Dragons some hope, but Metallurg was always dominant and it took some great work from home goalie Jeremy Smith to keep the score down. The pick of his saves came early in the middle frame when he denied Anatoly Nikontsev what was effectively an empty net effort after Brendan Leipsic pulled the defense badly out of shape.

Leipsic would not be denied his share of the points, though, and scored two goals of his own later in the game. Arkhip Nekolenko also found the net in between those two as Ilya Vorobyov’s team eased to a comfortable win.

Photo: 28.11.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Kunlun Red Star - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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