Andy Potts Andy Potts
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A busy Monday was headlined by the Moscow derby, and CSKA’s overtime win saw Dynamo knocked out of first place in the West. The Eastern lead got tighter as well, as Traktor moved level on points with Metallurg. Barys surprised Ak Bars with a 2-1 win in Kazan, SKA got a narrow win at Avtomobilist, Salavat Yulaev beat lowly Admiral and Lokomotiv held on to beat Sibir.

Hyka fires Traktor level with the leader

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 2 OT (0-0, 2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Traktor moved level with league leader Metallurg on 57 points, but this was far from a routine win in Chelyabinsk.

In the first period, Traktor benefitted from two power plays and was able to put some pressure on young Red Star goalie Paris O’Brien, who made 19 saves in the opening frame. He was beaten when Teemu Pulkkinen redirected Lawrence Pilut’s shot into the net, but the Finn’s stick was too high and the goal was whistled off.

The Dragons got their first PP of the game in the second period, and duly took the lead when Brandon Yip slotted home a Spencer Foo feed. That’s Yip’s 10th goal of the season. However, Traktor responded with a quickfire double late in the frame as Vladimir Tkachyov scored twice in 26 seconds to turn the game around.

Red Star was not done, and a misplaced pass on another Traktor power play enabled Luke Lockhart to set up a short-handed goal for Foo. After that, both teams missed chances to win it in regulation before Tomas Hyka settled the outcome in overtime.

Magnitka stumbles on home ice

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Spartak Moscow 3 (1-1, 1-1, 0-1)

While Traktor was winning against Red Star, Metallurg slipped up against Spartak and suffered a home loss against the Red-and-Whites for the first time in the KHL. The visitor never trailed in this game as it ended a three-game losing run to turn up the heat in the battle for a playoff place in the West.

However, Metallurg had chances early on and were it not for a strong performance from Oscar Dansk the home team might have been up a couple of goals. Instead, the opener arrived at the other end when Dmitry Vishnevsky beat Juho Olkinuora midway through the first. Nikita Korostelyov put Magnitka level before the break, rounding off a slick move from Philippe Maillet and Nikolai Goldobin.

The second period was a similar story. Again, Vishnevsky put Spartak in front. Again, Metallurg replied on the power play, this time through Josh Currie.

The key moment in the game came midway through the third, when Korostelyov took a penalty. Not only did that wipe out a home power play, it led to Spartak gaining a man advantage in due course. Emil Pettersson converted the chance, making it 3-2 and giving the Red-and-Whites a lead that endured until the end. A last-gasp effort from Metallurg hit the piping, and the visitor could celebrate its win.

Photo: 06.12.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Spartak (Moscow)

Zavarukhin’s first loss at Avto

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 SKA St. Petersburg 1 (0-0, 0-1, 0-0)

SKA handed Nikolai Zavarukhin his first loss as head coach of Avtomobilist thanks to a shut-out from Lars Johansson and a goal from Daniil Pylenkov. The home team continued with largely the same line-up that beat Admiral in its previous game — the elevation of Brooks Macek to the first line was the most notable amendment — while the visitor recalled Valentin Zykov and Alexander Volkov.

The Army Men suffered an early blow when defenseman Stepan Falkovsky suffered an injury on his first shift and returned to the locker room for treatment. Subsequently, SKA looked the livelier of the two teams, but Avtomobilist’s Ryan Spooner was closest to a goal when his goalbound shot beat Johansson but was blocked by defenseman Nikita Kamalov.

The middle frame saw SKA take control and deservedly take the lead through Pylenkov’s goal midway through the session. Avto, meanwhile, was finding life tough and mustered just four shots in 20 minutes. The home team only really managed to compete in the final few minutes of the period.

In the final stanza, Avtomobilist was close to tying the game. Pylenkov almost deflected a shot into his own net, Stephane Da Costa drew a fine save from Johansson and then saw a goal ruled out for offside after a video review. The Swedish goalie completed his eighth shut-out of the season to seal the win.

Photo: 06.12.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

Hard-fought win for Salavat Yulaev

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 Admiral Vladivostok 2 (1-0, 2-1, 1-1)

With just one win in its previous six games, Salavat Yulaev was under pressure at home to an Admiral team that languishes at the foot of the Eastern Conference. A home win was the minimum requirement, and while Tomi Lamsa’s team secured that result, it did not produce the kind of performance that might persuade fans that the worst is over.

Ufa had the better of the first period but had to wait until the last minute before taking the lead on a Sergei Shmelyov goal. Early in the second, Sakari Manninen doubled the lead on the power play, but the recent lack of assurance in the home ranks was not assuaged and Vladislav Kaletnik grabbed a short-handed goal to make it 2-1.

Late in the middle frame, Markus Granlund restored the two-goal advantage. The in-game stats suggested that was a fair reflection of the play and it was easy to conclude that the third period would see Salavat Yulaev ease to victory. Instead, though, the home team ran into penalty trouble early in the final frame and handed the initiative to Admiral. Rihards Bukarts’ power play goal gave the Sailors hope and, had the visitor’s discipline not let it down in the final 10 minutes, this game could have ended rather differently. In the event, though, Alexander Kadeikin’s empty-net marker in the final second sealed a hard-fought win. Is it enough to trigger an Ufa revival?

Ak Bars Kazan 1 Barys Nur-Sultan 2 (0-0, 0-1, 1-1)

After a successful trip to Dubai last week, it was back down to Earth for Ak Bars. Returning home to Kazan, Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team was surprised by Barys. The visitor picked up a second successive win and moves to within a point of the top eight in the East.

There was little sign of jetlag early in the game as Ak Bars made a positive start. The home team looked good in the first period and was only lacking an opening goal. So far, the game was playing out in a similar manner to the clash with Avangard last week and Barys perhaps recalled how the Hawks improved in the second period. The visitor came out after the intermission and snatched an early goal, Jakob Lilja breaking the deadlock in the second minute of the middle frame. Tomas Jurco was then ejected from the game for misconduct in the 26th minute but in a second period of few chances, Barys carried its lead to the intermission.

The final frame saw far more from Ak Bars, but Joni Ortio stood up well to the examination. At the other end, a breakaway goal from Arkady Shestakov doubled the Barys lead and a late Dmitry Voronkov effort proved nothing more than a consolation for the home team.

Pilipenko scores two to sink Vityaz

Severstal Cherepovets 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 1 (0-0, 1-1, 2-0)

Severstal bounced back after its weekend loss to Amur and remains in touch with the Western Conference leaders after outlasting Vityaz.

The first period in Cherepovets was goalless, with few chances at either end. At the start of the second, Kirill Rasskazov put Vityaz ahead and the team at the foot of the table began to harbor hopes of getting a result. However, Severstal continued to create chances and tied it up late in the frame on a goal from Kirill Pilipenko.

Pilipenko would finish the day with two goals after grabbing an empty-netter. Before that, though, Maxim Kazakov potted the game-winner in the 45th minute. Vityaz slipped to a fourth successive defeat and the gap to the top eight is already starting to look like a chasm for Yury Babenko’s team.

City rivals knock Dynamo off the top

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

Dynamo was toppled from the Western Conference summit after blowing a 2-0 lead in this Moscow derby. CSKA rallied in the third period, took the win in overtime and joins Jokerit on 52 points, one ahead of the Blue-and-Whites.

Yet for 40 minutes, this game was going well for Dynamo. The home team took its chances, with scoring leader Vadim Shipachyov instrumental once again. He opened the scoring with a power play effort midway through the first. It took just seven seconds to punish Andrei Svetlakov for the first foul in the game: Dynamo won the face-off, the puck went back to Andrei Sergeyev and his diagonal pass was rifled home by captain Shipachyov.

In the second period, Shipachyov was involved again as Anton Wedin doubled the home lead. This was a neat passing move: Andrei Mironov to Shipachyov out wide, then an instant, instinctive feed for the Swede to fire home from the center of the zone. Wedin joined Dynamo from Sibir, where he managed just one goal in 14 games. Since his move, he’s scored five in 16.

However, despite Dynamo’s lead, the CSKA offense had been lively throughout the game. Ivan Bocharov was called upon for 26 saves in the first two periods and the pressure continued to build in the third. Anton Slepyshev found a way through in the 49th minute, then turned provider as Pavel Karnaukhov snatched a late goal to take us to overtime. It didn’t take long for Nikita Nesterov to find the winner in the extras and give the Army Men local bragging rights this time around.

Photo: 06.12.21. KHL Championship 2021-2022. Dynamo (Moscow) - CSKA (Moscow)

Fast start puts Lokomotiv in control

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (2-0, 1-1, 0-1)

After scoring seven in its previous game at Red Star, Sibir faced a more strenuous test in Yaroslavl. In the end, the home team prevailed thanks to its fast start — but the visitor responded strongly to keep the game alive until the final hooter.

Loko blasted out of the blocks in this one. The first attack of the game saw Rushan Rafikov open the scoring after 27 seconds. Keeping the pressure on, the Railwaymen forced a foul out of Alexander Sharov and converted that power play — Yegor Korshkov made it 2-0 inside seven minutes. Sibir responded by introducing goalie Harri Sateri in place of Anton Krasotkin and the home offense calmed down. However, the visitor was limited to just three shots on Eddie Pasquale in an opening stanza that Andrei Martemyanov would rather forget.

The second period began with a flurry of penalties as both teams picked up concurrent minors on two separate occasions. However, when Pavel Kraskovsky was called for tripping, Sibir needed just 16 seconds to convert its first PP of the night. Trevor Murphy, who had two points against Red Star, scored again here to give the visitor a way back into the game.

The penalties kept coming and the teams were playing four-on-four when Reid Boucher restored Loko’s two-goal cushion but by now Sibir was better placed to compete. The visitor came out in the third and took the game to the Railwaymen, setting home nerves jangling when Nikita Korotkov made it 2-3 midway through the session. Despite outshooting Loko 16-4 in the third, though, Sibir could not find a tying goal and saw its four-game winning streak come to an end.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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