Monday, February 13, 2017
Lokomotiv v Admiral 6-1
Game one of the final week of the regular season saw Lokomotiv looking to close in on home-ice advantage for the playoffs, while Admiral was looking for points to help secure its place in the top eight. The home team made an early breakthrough, scoring after just 64 seconds when youngster Alexander Polunin unleashed a devastating wrist shot from Artyom Ilyenko’s feed. But it wasn’t until the second stanza that Loko really took control. First, Jakub Nakladal spanked home a power play goal from the blue line in the 21st minute, then Emil Galimov’s one-timer made it 3-0 just before the second intermission. Further goals early in the third saw Andrei Loktionov and Daniil Apalkov put the game well beyond Admiral’s reach. The visitor managed a consolation effort in the 52nd minute through Denis Alexeyev, denying the impressive Alexei Murygin a shut-out despite making 40 saves. Lokomotiv still had the final word, though, when Pavel Koledov cashed in on a defensive error to make it 6-1. Loko’s win boosts its chances of claiming third place in the West, but the result arguably has greater significance in the Eastern Conference. Admiral’s loss leaves it anxiously awaiting the results for Sibir, Neftekhimik and even Avtomobilist tomorrow. That trio retains hopes of sneaking into the top eight, while today’s score also enhances Kunlun Red Star’s hopes of making the playoffs in its debut season.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017Avtomobilist v Metallurg Novokuznetsk 7-2
Avtomobilist’s playoff hopes are almost theoretical, but this emphatic victory confirmed that nobody in the Urals is going to give up until the battle is over.
Two goals apiece for Rok Ticar and Denis Mingaleyev (the 22-year-old had only managed one in his previous 25 games this season) provided the platform for this success after Ignat Zemchenko gave rock-bottom Metallurg a surprise lead in the 15th minute. Further goals from Dmitry Megalinsky, Alexander Torchenyuk and Alexei Mikhnov added weight to the scoreline before Artyom Mikheyev got one back for Metallurg in the 48th minute.
Barys v Sibir 2-1 OT
Barys confirmed its playoff spot after collecting the point it needed with a 1-1 tie in regulation. Dustin Boyd’s 13th-minute goal cancelled out Kirill Vorobyov’s early opener for Sibir and ultimately proved sufficient to ensure the Kazakhs would be back in post-season after missing out last year. Sibir, though, needs points to secure a top-eight finish for itself. Going into the game it was three points behind eighth-placed Admiral, which lost heavily at Lokomotiv the day before. But the visitor was unable to make big inroads into that gap, losing out to a Kevin Dallman goal deep into overtime. Sibir remains in ninth place, two points adrift of Admiral with two games to play. Barys will face Traktor when the Eastern Conference playoff starts on Feb. 22, but the remaining two games of the regular season will determine which team gets home ice advantage at the beginning of that series. Ugra v Avangard 2-3 OT
Fyodor Kanareikin’s team twice came from behind to win at Ugra thanks to Anton Burdasov’s 17th goal of the season. The forward got the decider in the third minute of overtime, converting a power play to give his team the lead for the first, and most important, time in the game. Earlier, Konstantin Panov gave Ugra an early lead, only for Jonas Ahnelov to tie it up late in the first period. Then Andrei Alexeyev’s power play goal made it 2-1 to Ugra in the 27th minute, before Vladimir Sobotka levelled midway through the game.
Severstal v Torpedo 2-3 OT
Latvian forward Kaspars Daugavins gave Torpedo victory with a goal 17 seconds into overtime, but the visitor may feel it should have wrapped up the points before that. A short-handed goal in the 58th minute saw Dmitry Kagarlitsky salvage a 2-2 tie for Severstal in a position where Torpedo would have expected to see out the remaining minutes without undue alarm. Earlier, Daugavins assisted on Alexander Frolov’s 27th-minute opener. Daniil Vovchenko tied it up 10 minutes later, but Carter Ashton responded immediately to make it 2-1 to Torpedo.
Vityaz v Kunlun 5-3
For the first time in the club’s history, Vityaz has reached the KHL playoffs. The Moscow Region team, one of the competition’s founder members back in 2008, has endured a reputation for piling up penalties rather than goals, but under the guidance of head coach Valery Belov, the class of 2017 is poised to bring playoff hockey to Podolsk. Tonight’s victory over Kunlun, coupled with Sochi’s loss at CSKA, sealed the deal, but Vityaz had to do it the hard way. Twice, the visitor went ahead on goals from Linus Videll and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Twice, though, Vityaz hit back within minutes thanks to power play goals from Miro Aaltonen and Roman Horak. Then everything changed. Two goals in 10 seconds transformed the game. Horak poached his second PP marker of the night to give his team the lead for the first time on 42:28. Then, after losing out in the face-off, Vityaz pressed the puck deep in Kunlun territory. Tuukka Mantyla was pickpocketed in front of his own net, Alexander Pankov turned misdemeanor into felony with a close-range finish. 4-2, and the top eight was in touching distance. Kunlun hit back, Sean Collins halved the deficit with 10 minutes to play and the Chinese team threw everything at the host. Goalie Tomi Karhunen was withdrawn with more than two minutes left, but there was no reward for enterprise. Instead Alexei Makeyev scored into the empty net to kickstart the post-season party.
Minsk v Lada 8-3
The final scoreline was emphatic, but it wasn’t until deep into the second period that this game finally got away from Lada. The home team opened up a 2-0 lead early on through Aaron Palushaj and Ilya Shinkevich, but Andrei Ivanov scored twice to tie the scores before the first intermission. In the middle stanza, Palushaj got his second and Evgeny Lisovets made it 4-2, before Semyon Valuisky reduced the deficit. This time, though, Dinamo renewed its offensive: Rob Klinkhammer scored in the 39th and 40th minutes to put the outcome beyond doubt. The third period saw two power play goals for Fredrik Pettersson complete the scoring.
Medvescak v Slovan 4-5 OT
Neither team had much to play for at the end of a season that fell short of a playoff push, but both played a full role in an entertaining game. Tomas Kundratek eventually won it in the first minute of overtime, finally ending Medvescak’s resistance after the home team tied the game on four separate occasions. Ilya Arkalov got two of those equalizers, cancelling out Michal Hlinka’s opener and Ziga Jeglic’s goal midway through the game. In between, Kyle Chipchura and Alexandre Giroux also traded markers. At 3-3, it was already a lively affair, but the best came late on. Igor Musatov thought he’d won it for Slovan with a goal in 57thminute, but Samson Mahbod tied it up at 4-4 in the last minute, scoring past Justin Pogge after Barry Brust picked up a game misconduct rap. That took us to the extras, and Kundratek’s decisive contribution.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017Traktor v Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2-1
Sergei Mozyakin is just one point shy of becoming the first man to score 1,000 in Russian or Soviet hockey, but his 48th goal of the season was not enough to win this game for the defending champion. Instead Traktor came from behind to enjoy a derby triumph that cements fourth place and completes the quartet of seeded teams in the Eastern Conference. Mozyakin’s magnificent season continued when he opened the scoring in the 29th minute, putting Magnitka in front with a power play goal with assists from his regular partners in crime Chris Lee and Danis Zaripov. But Traktor was determined to give its fans something to cheer from the last regular-season encounter in Chelyabinsk and rallied in the third period to win the game. Artyom Penkovsky tied it up in the 48th minute, assisted by goalie Pavel Francouz, before Paul Szczechura got the winner with five minutes left.
Mozyakin’s scoring feats left their mark on Alexei Kruchinin, a 25-year-old Traktor forward who recently made his first appearances for the national team during the weekend’s Euro Hockey Tour action.
“It would take me about 90 years to score that many points,” he joked after the game. “It’s incredible. He just keeps scoring and scoring. It’s like he’s found some kind of ‘cheat’ mode where nobody else can play and the puck flies by itself.”
And after helping his team clinch fourth place in the East and claim home ice advantage for the start of the playoffs, Kruchinin felt his team had achieved its first target for the season.
“We’ve got fourth place, we’ll start the playoffs here in Chelyabinsk, so everyone’s happy,” he added. “Right now we’ve got these two games against Metallurg, one at home and one away, so it’s like a mini-rehearsal for the playoffs.”
Slovan v Medvescak 7-5
Slovan made it two wins from two games against Medvescak, ending its season on a high note despite missing out on this year’s playoffs. After a thrilling overtime win last night, the Slovak team had it easier this evening, taking control of the game in the first period and never relinquishing its grip. Nick Plastino and Patrik Bacik put Slovan 2-0 up early on, then power play goals either side of the first intermission saw Patrik Lusnak and Pavol Skalicky extend that lead to 4-0. Alexandre Giroux got one back for Medvescak, ending Justin Pogge’s hopes of finishing the season with a shut-out, but Kyle Chipchura was on the mark early in the third to make it 5-1. Medvescak managed a fight-back of sorts, Giroux completed a hat-trick before Lukas Kozak and Nathan Perkovich found the net, but amid those goals Slovan added two more through Michal Hlinka and Tomas Starosta. These two teams are the first to complete their 60 games in this year’s regular season, and unfortunately neither of them will continue into the playoffs. Slovan’s 85-point tally is good enough for 10th in the West; Medvescak must wait to see if 69 points will be good enough to remain in 11th ahead of Severstal and Spartak.