Thursday, January 26, 2017Amur v Medvescak 4-2
Two goals in the closing stages saw the Tigers of the Far East defeat the Bears of Croatia. The game was tied at 2-2 when Nikita Kamalov put the home team back in front with 11 minutes remaining. Medvescak, now without star forward Francis Pare, who will finish the season playing in Switzerland, could not find a third equalizer and Vyacheslav Litovchenko wrapped up the win with a power play goal two minutes from the end. Earlier, Jan Kolar gave Amur a second-minute lead, but Samson Mahbod tied it up at the start of the second period. Igor Rudenkov made it 2-1 in the 37th minute, but the third period also brought an early goal as Mike Glumac levelled the scores once more.
Kunlun v Slovan 2-0
Both teams needed the points to support their playoff bids, but Kunlun repeated its previous victory over Slovan to end the visitor’s seven-game winning streak.
In that game on January 5, Slovan’s last defeat prior to today’s encounter, the Kunlun power play made the difference in an overtime success. And penalty trouble cost the Slovaks here as well, with Red Star taking a first-period lead on a 5-on-3 power play. Sean Collins finished from close range after some aerobatics from Joonas Jarvinen put the puck on his stick. Kunlun dominated the middle stanza without extending its lead, and was facing a difficult finale to the game. But a classic breakaway goal, Brett Bellemore to Tomas Marcinko, an instinctive pass to Alexei Ponikarovsky, and a deadly finish from the top of the circle, ensured that the points stayed in Beijing. Home goalie Tomi Karhunen claimed his third shut-out of the season, turning away 29 shots. Victory moves Kunlun up to seventh place with a seven-point advantage over Sibir in the race for a playoff spot. Both teams have seven games to play.
Minsk v Ugra 4-1
A strong third-period performance lifted Dinamo Minsk to a comfortable win over Ugra, but it took time for the Western Conference playoff chaser to assert itself against the outsider from the East. Dinamo made a fast start, with Matt Ellison opening the scoring in the third minute while Ugra failed to register a shot on goal in the opening stanza. But Nikita Dvurechensky tied the game in the second period and despite the visitor’s short-comings on offense, goalie Alexander Sharychenkov was frustrating the home forwards. The breakthrough eventually came in the 47th minute when Ellison got his second of the game. Now, at last, Dinamo would not be denied. Roman Graborenko made it 3-1 two minutes later and Kirill Gotovets completed the scoring in the 55th minute, claiming the first goal of an injury-hit season for the highly-rated D-man. Dinamo tightens its grip on sixth place in the West and improves to four wins from five.
Friday, January 27, 2017Lada v Sibir 1-3
Sibir moved to within two points of a playoff place thanks to a decisive road win at Lada. The turning point came early in the second period. Maxim Shalunov’s 19th goal of the season put Sibir in front after 25 minutes, then a boarding penalty for Rafael Akhmetov gave Maxim Ignatovich the chance to double the lead on the power play. Lada replied with a power play goal of its own from Anton Shenfeld, but Yegor Milovzorov ensured Sibir finished on top with his team’s third goal in the 52nd minute.
Neftekhimik v Avangard 4-0
Neftekhimik kept its outside hopes of a playoff place alive with a resounding victory over Avangard. A powerful first-period display settled this game. Dmitry Ogurtsov opened the scoring in the fourth minute, Igor Polygalov doubled the lead on the power play and Nikita Kvartalnov made it 3-0 in the 13th minute.
Avangard never really found a response and went further behind when Ildar Shiksatdarov scored late in the middle stanza. Nikolai Lemtyugov then got himself in trouble for starting a fight with Kvartalnov before the game petered out in the final session. Andrei Karavayev made 29 saves for his shut-out.
The result leaves Andrei Nazarov’s team five points shy of eighth-placed Admiral, but with just five games left to make up the deficit.
Vityaz v Traktor 3-1
Two of Vityaz’ in-form veterans led the way as the Podolsk team took another big step towards securing a playoff spot. Today’s victory, combined with HC Sochi’s defeat at home to CSKA, puts Vityaz six points clear in seventh place, with Jokerit a further point behind but with a game in hand. There are just six games left for Vityaz to claim its first ever KHL playoff place. The opening goal came midway through this game, with Vityaz converting a 5-on-3 power play. The officials referred Alexei Kopeikin’s unassisted effort to the video ref and, as the crowd celebrated with a Mexican Wave around the arena, the goal was awarded. Alexei Makeyev made it 2-0 in the 54th minute but Yury Petrov pulled one back for Traktor with four minutes left. The home team would not be denied, though. Maxim Afinogenov continued his impressive form with an empty-net goal to seal the point and move his team ever closer to that long-awaited playoff.
Lokomotiv v Severstal 5-3
Loko secured its playoff spot with a victory that takes it back to third in the Western Conference, while Salavat’s sixth successive defeat increases the worries in Ufa as the season approaches the business end. This entertaining game, the day’s highest scoring, was a close battle, even if Loko never trailed. The teams traded goals in the first 10 minutes, with Alexander Kadeikin opening the scoring in the fifth and Anton Lazarev tying it up in the 10th. The second period began with a pair of power play goals, one at each end as Max Talbot and Linus Omark made the score 2-2. But it ended with Lokomotiv in the ascendancy as Ilya Lyubushkin made it 3-1. Pavel Koledov’s power play goal early in the third gave the home team a two-goal cushion for the first time in the game, but Salavat wasn’t done and reduced the deficit thanks to a great strike from Zakhar Arzamastsev in the 50th minute. Lokomotiv wasted little time in responding, and barely a minute later Andrei Loktionov made it 5-3, securing the home victory and guaranteeing his team a playoff place.
Saturday, January 28, 2017Admiral v Slovan 2-1
Two goals in a minute proved sufficient for Admiral to claim the victory, and put a dent in Slovan’s playoff push. It all happened in the 16th minute, shortly after Slovan had killed a 5-on-3 penalty. First Andrei Sigaryov advanced down the right channel and scored with a wrist shot, then Robert Sabolic reacted sharply to tuck away a rebound. The visitor got one back through Andrej Stastny early in the second period, but could not salvage anything from the game and missed the chance to move into the playoff places in the Western Conference. Admiral remains in eighth in the East, five points clear of Sibir.Kunlun v Medvescak 5-0
As the year of the Rooster dawned in Beijing, Kunlun ensured that its fans had plenty to crow about. A 5-0 victory, fittingly, five is a lucky number for Roosters in Chinese astrology, maintained the KHL newcomer’s grip on a playoff place, raising further hopes that this year could be an auspicious one for the team.
Linus Videll was the architect of the win. He opened the scoring after 40 seconds, made the third goal for Alexei Ponikarovsky late in the first period and then set up Sean Collins for the fifth with two seconds left to play. In between, Max Warn scored his first goal since returning from injury last week and Tomi Sallinen got the fourth as Kunlun kept up the holiday mood in the Chinese capital. Tomi Karhunen made 24 saves to record his second shut-out in a row; Kunlun’s last regular season home game offered strong evidence that hockey will return to China next month in the playoffs.Minsk v Barys 2-1
Two teams whose playoff places are almost assured played out a low-key game in Minsk. Alexander Pavlovich gave Dinamo a first-period lead and Nikita Mitskevich scored his first ever KHL goal to double that lead. The 22-year-old defenseman finished on the winning side despite a Brandon Bochenski goal for the visitor, which saw its four-game streak come to an end.