Tuesday, 21 February 2017

KHL - Baltic - Round Up February 01-18, 2017

Ufa (a) 3-1 - Wednesday, February 01

Jokerit might be stumbling toward the end of the season, but this victory went a long way to calming concerns about reaching the playoffs. Third-period goals made the difference in a tight game, but the hard work was done by the Finns’ defense, which allowed just 18 shots on Ryan Zapolski’s net. Pekka Jormakka broke the deadlock with a power play goal at the start of the third stanza; Mika Niemi made it 2-0 with 10 minutes to play. The win gives Jokerit a three-point cushion over ninth-placed HC Sochi; the Black Sea team has five games left to play.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk (a) 4-5 SO - Friday, February 03

Sergei Mozyakin hit a hat-trick to lead defending champion Metallurg to a comeback victory over table-topping SKA. And, once again, the KHL’s top hit-man set a new record. This time he overtook Alexei Morozov’s all-time points haul in the Russian championship. Mozyakin has 84 points (47+37) from the current season; Morozov achieved 83 (34+49) in 2006-07, before the KHL came into existence. Mozyakin’s treble, two of which came after Ilya Kablukov was ejected from the game in the third period, helped Magnitka recover from 1-3 and 2-4 deficits to tie this game at 4-4, but the master goalscorer suffered an uncharacteristic miss in a goal-heavy shoot-out, leaving Danis Zaripov to secure the win for the host. Earlier Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Lee traded goals in the last minute of the opening session before Evgeny Dadonov scored twice in the middle stanza to put SKA in control. Mozyakin’s hat-trick came in the space of just four minutes in the third period, but there was still time for Jarno Koskiranta’s goal for SKA to punctuate his efforts. In the shoot-out, both Igor Shestyorkin and Ilya Samsonov struggled as the goals flew in. But with the score at 5-4, Samsonov denied Datsyuk to end an absorbing clash of the KHL’s conference leaders.
Spartak (h) 2-4 - Tuesday, February 14
With nothing to play for except pride, Spartak travelled to title-chasing SKA and produced one of the shock results of the season. Weathering a storm in the early stages, the Red-and-Whites recovered from Evgeny Ketov’s early goal to claim a dramatic victory … and hand city rival CSKA the advantage in the race for top spot. Two goals in a minute midway through the first period saw Alexander Vasilyev and Yaroslav Dyblenko put Spartak in front. Then, after the intermission, the visitor scored twice more through Lukas Radil and Viktor Bobrov. A shock was brewing. SKA created chances to get back into it, but Markus Svensson was in fine form and only Ilya Kovalchuk’s 30th of the season got past the visiting goalie. SKA can still win the Continental Cup, but must hope for a slip-up from CSKA in the remaining games.
Sochi (h) 6-2 - Thursday, February 16

The race to claim the Continental Cup will go to the final day after SKA bounced back from Tuesday’s defeat to demolish Sochi. The visitor knew that only a win would keep its playoff prospects alive ahead of Saturday’s grand finale, but was blown away in the first 10 minutes of this encounter. With just 70 seconds gone, Evgeny Dadonov and Nikita Gusev advanced on the away net; Gusev scored at the second attempt. Then in the fourth minute Dadonov was involved again, assisting as Vadim Shipachyov made it 2-0. Sochi could see its playoff dream dying and called a time-out, but struggled to gain a foothold in the game. Two penalties in quick succession midway through the first period gave SKA a 5-on-3 advantage and Ilya Kovalchuk took advantage to make it 3-0. A penalty against Kovalchuk enabled Oscar Fantenberg to get Sochi on the scoreboard, but even at the end of the first period it felt like this one was effectively over. Another 5-on-3 power play brought SKA two more goals in the middle stanza. Kovalchuk and Gusev set up Anton Belov to make it 4-1, Evgeny Ketov added the fifth with an assist from fit-again D-man Patrik Hersley. The final stanza saw Shipachyov and Fantenberg get their second goals of the game to complete the scoring. SKA remains second, level on points with CSKA. Sochi is stuck in ninth place, unable to catch Jokerit regardless of the outcome of its final game.
Torpedo (h) 4-2 - Saturday, February 18

SKA kept its side of the bargain, finishing its regular season with victory over Torpedo, but could not overtake CSKA to claim top spot in the KHL. Nikolai Prokhorkin put the home team ahead in the second minute, forcing home the rebound after Mikhail Biryukov saved his initial shot. But Torpedo, looking to go into the playoffs in winning form, battled hard throughout the first period and tied the game in the 26th minute thanks to Brandon McMillan. Parity was short-lived: a SKA power play saw Pavel Datsyuk feed Patrik Hersley to make it 2-1. The Swedish D-man hasn’t had a lot of game time this term, but seems to be coming back to his best in time to be a potent post-season weapon. Alexander Khokhlachyov added a third before the intermission to put SKA in command.
Torpedo continued to press and halved the deficit in the 45th minute through Artyom Alyayev, but there was no way back for the visitor. A late power play goal from Ilya Kovalchuk, assisted by Hersley, secured the points for SKA.
SKA now goes on to face Vityaz in the playoff, Torpedo travels to Dynamo Moscow. SKA, which finishes the season with a KHL record goal difference of +135 and a record goal tally of 249, now goes on to face Vityaz in the playoff. Torpedo travels to Dynamo Moscow.

Barys (a) 2-0 - Wednesday, February 01

A Vadim Shipachyov hat-trick sent Salavat spinning to its eighth successive loss, but head coach Igor Zakharkin insists there’s no panic in Bashkiria despite the team’s poor form in 2017.
“I didn’t think there was much wrong with today’s game, even though we lost again,” he told reporters. “The guys battled hard, but we need to work harder around our own net. We’ll work on it. There’s no panic around the team, we have three more games and we’ll keep battling like we did today. For us, the playoff already started.”
Lying fifth in the Eastern Conference table, five points clear of ninth-placed Sibir, Salavat Yulaev should be confident of reaching the playoffs but a catastrophic run of just two wins since the turn of the year has piled on the pressure in Ufa. A visit from table-topping SKA, who had won 7-1 in the return fixture back in August, was far from ideal and the loss of starting goalie Andrei Gavrilov after 20 minutes did not help. The game was goalless when Gavrilov failed to return for the second period, but within a minute Shipachyov opened the scoring on the power play. Shortly after the half-hour he made it 2-0, and despite Enver Lisin getting one back, Shipachyov finished the job in the 51st minute. Evgeny Dadonov picked up a hat-trick of assists to go with his team-mates trio of goals.

Ugra (a) 3-2 - Friday, February 03

A late goal from Marko Anttila gave Jokerit three precious points from this game and maintained the Finns’ advantage over playoff-chasing Sochi. Anttila struck in the 57th minute, snaffling the rebound from Topi Jaakola’s shot just two minutes after Roman Lyuduchin tied the game. Earlier Kirill Belyayev got Ugra off to a great start with a goal after 83 seconds, but Jokerit turned it around in the first period when Mika Niemi and Peter Regin scored twice in 34 seconds.
Avtomobilist (a) 3-1 - Sunday, February 05

Two teams chasing a playoff place met in the Urals, but it was the visitor that left with post-season in mind after all-but extinguishing Avto’s hopes of making the top eight. Jokerit’s victory, built on a goal in each period, lifts the Finns to 91 points, six above ninth-placed HC Sochi as the Western Conference campaign comes to an end. Avtomobilist, meanwhile, is stalled on 74, eight points and three places adrift of Salavat Yulaev with just three games to play. The visitor took an early lead thanks to Roope Talaja’s goal in the fourth minute, but hit a roadblock thrown up by compatriot Tommi Kivisto early in the second. The D-man scored his second goal of the season in the 25th minute to tie the game, threatening to reshape the playoff picture as he did so. One Finn was not enough to deny the team from Helsinki, though. Ville Lajunen got his 10th of the season to ensure that Jokerit went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. Then, midway through the final stanza, Sakari Salminen scored on the power play to secure Jokerit’s success. Mika Niemi assisted on both those goals.
Neftekhimik (h) 3-2 OT - Tuesday, February 14

Both teams needed the win here to enhance their playoff chances, but it was Jokerit that had the edge after a hard-fought game. The Finns, looking to get away from HC Sochi in the Western Conference, took a 10th-minute lead through Tommi Huhtala, only for Gilbert Brule to tie the scores in the 17th.
Defenseman Topi Jaakola looked to have given the home team a winning advantage with a power play goal midway through the second period, but Neftekhimik, looking to sneak into the top eight in the East, forced overtime when Richard Gynge tied it up with 96 seconds left to play. Gynge’s 22 goals this season have earned him a call-up to Sweden’s national team, but may not be enough to take Neftekhimik back to the playoffs. Overtime was almost done when Jokerit finally snatched the win. Mika Niemi’s goal came just six seconds from the end; the Finns are five points ahead of Sochi with two games to go.

Ak Bars (h) 4-5 - Thursday, February 16

A high-scoring defeat for Jokerit did not prove terminal for the team’s playoff prospects since Ak Bars’ recovery coincided with Sochi’s defeat in Petersburg, ensuring the Finns would once again make it to post-season. But if the news from across the Gulf of Finland had been different, Jokerit might have been left cursing its failure to put away a game that it led for long periods. Charles Genoway opened the scoring on the power play and Brian O’Neill made it 2-0 on a delayed penalty, but Ak Bars responded almost immediately as Denis Golubev made it 2-1 at the first intermission. In the middle stanza Jokerit again briefly had a two-goal lead as Petteri Wirtanen and Rafael Batyrshin traded goals in the 32nd minute. The final stanza followed a different pattern, though. Penalty trouble for the host saw Ak Bars forge ahead for the first time in the game thanks to power play goals from Vasily Tokranov and Damir Musin. Jokerit tied it up, with help from the video, through Jesse Joensuu’s effort in the 49th minute but Justin Azevedo came up with a winner for Ak Bars. O’Neill hit the post in the last minute but could not save Jokerit from defeat here.

Dinamo Riga

Ugra (a) 1-2 - Wednesday, February 01
Neither of these teams had anything more than pride to play for, but Ugra came from behind to defeat Dinamo. All the goals came in the second period. Lauris Darzins put the Latvians in front before Andrei Ankudinov’s unassisted goal tied the scores. Andrei Alexeyev got the winner on a power play in the 36th minute.

Avtomobilist (a) 2-4 - Friday, February 03
Avto’s outside hopes of the playoffs are still alive after coming from behind to beat Dinamo. Guntis Galvins gave the visitor the lead in the 34th minute, but Maxim Rasseikin and Petr Koukal turned the game around with two quick goals late in the second period. The final stanza saw Alexei Simakov and Alexei Mikhnov extend that lead to 4-1 before Miks Indrasis got a late consolation goal for the visitor.
Barys (a) 0-1 - Sunday, February 05
Kevin Dallman’s first-period goal, his ninth of the season, was sufficient to separate the teams as Dinamo struggled to pressure the home team. Dallman delivered a trademark slap shot from the blue line to convert a power play in the 13th minute. Henrik Karlsson faced just 17 shots for his seventh shut-out of the season as Barys moved on to 87 points, just one win short of securing its playoff place.
Home head coach Eduard Zankovets acknowledged that it wasn’t the greatest game of hockey. “We expected a hard game without many goals,” he said. “It’s often difficult to win a game like that, so we’re happy to come away with three points even if it wasn’t the prettiest hockey.”

Lada (h) 2-1 OT - Thursday, February 16
Lauris Darzins left it late, but ended up salvaging an unlikely victory for Dinamo.
Lada took the lead in the 14th minute through Gleb Koryagin, and that looked likely to be enough to claim the win … until Darzins woke up. He tied the game with 17 seconds left to play, then left it even later to bag the overtime winner on 64:56. The result has no bearing on the playoff places, with both teams languishing in the bottom three.

Neftekhimik (h) 3-2 SO - Saturday, February 18

In Riga, neither Dinamo nor Neftekhimik wanted the season to end … and the final game of the ninth KHL regular season went to a shoot-out. Neither side had anything more than pride riding on this one, with Dinamo destined to finish bottom of the Western Conference and Neftekhimik stuck in 10th in the East, but that didn’t stop them playing out a lively first period. Pavel Poryadin put Neftekhimik ahead in the 10th minute, only for Dinamo to rally and lead 2-1 on goals from Lauris Darzins and Guntis Galvins before the first intermission. The visitor tied it up again on the power play, with Richard Gynge making it 2-2 midway through the second period. There was no further scoring in the game, and the shoot-out was settled by Filipp Toluzakov to give the Latvians a victorious finish to a difficult season.

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