Wednesday, January 18, 2017Metallurg Novokuznetsk v Barys 2-4
Barys took another step towards securing its playoff place as Metallurg went down to its 12th defeat in succession. The home team showed signs of ending that miserable run when Kirill Lebedev gave it a 1-0 lead in the second minute. The lead might have been greater, but visiting goalie Kevin Poulin did well to keep Kuznya’s forwards at bay. It took until late in the second period for Barys to tie the game, with Corey Trivino’s beautiful backhander finding the net in the 37th minute. In the third period, though, the visitor ran away with it. Roman Starchenko scored twice on the power play, with Brandon Bochenski hitting the target in between to build a 4-1 lead for the Kazakhs. Konstantin Parkhomenko got a late consolation goal for the host; the 20-year-old opened his career KHL account in his sixth appearance in the competition. Barys remains in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but now moves 10 points clear of ninth-placed Neftekhimik. Both teams have nine games left in the regular season.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk v Avangard 3-5
Avangard cemented its place in this season’s playoff with an impressive victory at defending champion Metallurg, despite seeing two players suffer injuries.
Vladimir Sobotka and David Booth both picked up knocks during the first period, with Sobotka hobbling off after taking a blow to the knee. After the game, Avangard head coach Fyodor Kanareikin said he was waiting for more details of the extent of their problems. The decisive passage of play came much later, though, when Avangard scored two goals in the 42nd minute to snap a 2-2 tie. First, Ilya Mikheyev was given too much time to retrieve the rebound from an Anton Burdasov shot, then Burdasov himself took advantage of some sluggish Magnitka defense to grab a breakaway goal. Danis Zaripov reduced the deficit, but Nikolai Lemtyugov made the game safe in the last minute with an empty-netter. Earlier, the teams traded goals in the first two periods but Avangard always had the edge. Maxim Pestushko gave the visitor a ninth-minute lead, only for Evgeny Timkin to level five minutes later. Then, in the middle stanza, Artur Lauta’s strike was cancelled out by Yaroslav Kosov’s slap shot.
Vityaz v Lada 4-1
Vityaz enhanced its chances of a first ever KHL playoff campaign after a late surge was enough to defeat Lada. The host, placed seventh in the Western Conference, did not have it easy against its guest: the game was deadlocked for more than half-an-hour and the opening goal eventually went to Lada’s Georgy Belousov in the 32nd minute. But Vityaz knows that it has never had a better opportunity of booking a post-season spot and the experience of Maxim Afinogenov enabled the team to get back into the game. Afinogenov scored the equalizer himself in the 39th minute, then proved to be the architect of the evening’s decisive phase. He began with an assist on Alexei Semenov’s power play goal in the 51st minute, then set Alexei Makeyev away on a one-on-one to make it 4-1 in the 54th. In between, Mario Kempe got his 13th of the season.
The win keeps Vityaz in seventh place, but the Moscow Region team is now four points ahead of HC Sochi, the closest team outside the playoff places. The Black Sea boys are in action tomorrow, looking to reduce that gap.
Thursday, January 19, 2017Amur v Admiral 0-2
Two goals from Robert Sabolic and 27 saves from Igor Bobkov gave Admiral the edge in the latest meeting of these oriental rivals. The first period resembled a training exercise for home goalie Juha Metsola against the visiting offense as Admiral topped the shot count 16-4. But only one of those attempts found its target, when Sabolic took advantage of a delayed penalty call to open the scoring in the 18th minute. Amur improved in the second period, sometimes appearing as dominant as Admiral had been in the opening stanza, but Bobkov was in fine form to preserve his team’s lead. The final stanza followed a similar pattern, with Bobkov frustrating the home team to the last before Sabolic settled the outcome with an empty-net goal.
Avtomobilist v Ugra 0-2
Ugra head coach Andrei Razin dealt a severe blow to Avtomobilist’s playoff hopes, and proved a point on his return to Yekaterinburg. Razin began the season behind the bench at Avto, but was dismissed earlier in the season and has faced some criticism from his replacement, Vladimir Krikunov. But his new team came out on top here thanks to goals from Evgeny Lapenkov and Vitaly Shulakov, along with 22 saves from goalie Alexander Sharychenkov. Avtomobilist’s defeat leaves it six points adrift of eighth-placed Admiral, although Krikunov’s team has a game in hand on its rivals for a playoff spot. Ugra climbs to 13th in the Conference, but has only a theoretical chance of securing a top eight finish.Metallurg Magnitogorsk v Avangard 4-2
Magnitka gained swift revenge for yesterday’s 3-5 defeat at home to Avangard … and star forward Sergei Mozyakin scored his 37th goal of the season to set a new KHL record for scoring in the regular season. Mozyakin opened the scoring in the 15th minute to beat the previous best, set by Steve Moses for Jokerit in 2014-15, then got an assist on Danis Zaripov’s first goal of the night to re-establish Metallurg’s lead after Ilya Mikheyev tied it up early in the second period. But the game was only settled in the closing moments, with three goals in the last three minutes. Zaripov made it 3-1 on the power play, but Avangard saw its chance to hit back when Denis Platonov was sin-binned. The visitor’s gamble on a 6-on-4 power play backfired when Oskar Osala found the empty net to make it 4-1, but there was still time for Nikolai Lemtyugov to get a consolation goal with nine seconds left to play.
Traktor v Kunlun 1-3
Zach Yuen, the local hero on Kunlun’s roster, produced another game-winning display with a goal and an assist as the Beijing team downed Traktor. Yuen, the most successful of the Chinese-qualified players on Red Star’s roster, added to Tobias Viklund’s first-period opener with a neat finish midway through the game. He collected the puck on the point, outwitted Alexander Sharov and thumped his shot past Traktor goalie Pavel Francouz. Francouz’ evening ended early in the third, after he was beaten by a breakaway goal from Frenchman Damien Fleury. Yuen started that move, making the key interception and switching the direction of play with an astute pass for Tomi Sallinen. Traktor did not give up despite trailing 0-3. Maxim Pestushko got a goal back in the 52nd minute and the home team had a two-man advantage for almost two minutes after a couple of quick-fire Kunlun penalties. But the visitor held out, defending stoutly to take all three points.
Neftekhimik v Slovan 2-3
Slovan’s dream of a playoff spot is still alive after Milos Riha’s team made it six wins on the spin, but Neftekhimik lost ground on its rivals in the Eastern Conference. The home team opened strongly and took the lead after just 12 seconds through Richard Gynge. That lightning start was not sustainable, though, and Michal Hlinka tied it up in the 10th minute. Two goals in two minutes late in the second period proved to be decisive. First Nick Plastino put Slovan in front, then Pavol Skalicky made it 3-1 and left Neftekhimik with too much to do. The home team gave it a good go, and reduced the arrears on 50 minutes through Igor Polygalov’s power play. But a late penalty for Neftekhimik’s Kamil Fazylzyanov halted its recovery and lifted Slovan into a group of four teams separated by three points either side of the cut-off line.
Severstal v Medvescak 0-3
Francis Pare had a hat-trick of assists as Medvescak won this clash of the outsiders in Cherepovets. The experienced ex-Magnitka man set up Tomislav Zanoski for the opening goal in the 14th minute, but it was some time before the visitor managed to subdue Severstal. Finally, in the 45th minute, Alexandre Giroux added a second, again with Pare providing the helper. Any doubt about the outcome was removed in the 54th minute when Mike Glumac added a third. Michael Garnett made 32 saves for his shut-out.Torpedo v Lokomotiv 1-3
It was a Volga battle with third place in the Western Conference at stake, and two goals in the last 10 minutes saw Lokomotiv move ahead of its river rival as the season approaches its climax. Both teams arrived in good form: Loko had won its last four, while Torpedo’s only loss in 2017 came in overtime at Magnitogorsk last time out. But it was Andrei Loktionov who got on the scoresheet for the second game running to settle this encounter. He opened the scoring in the ninth minute of a high-octane clash while Alexei Murygin proved too strong for Torpedo’s forwards in the early exchanges. But the home team tied it up early in the second when Stanislav Yegorshev was given time and space to find the net. Both teams had chances to get ahead before the decisive breakthrough came in the 53rd minute when Pavel Kraskovsky made it 2-1 to Lokomotiv. Loktionov got his second of the night, and his 10th of the season, when he hit the empty net to seal the deal.