Jokerit claimed the eighth and final playoff place in the Western Conference despite losing at home to Ak Bars. The Finns’ closest rival, HC Sochi, suffered a heavy defeat at SKA to end its hopes of a top-eight finish. For SKA, though, victory sets up a chance to snatch the Continental Cup from CSKA when the regular season comes to an end on Saturday. In the East, the playoff picture is still unresolved. Sibir’s loss at Ugra guarantees Salavat Yulaev’s place, but the Siberians still have a chance of overtaking Kunlun or Admiral on Saturday. Neftekhimik and Avtomobilist’s hopes are over.

First playoff match-up confirmed

Barys Astana 2 Metallurg Novokuznetsk 3 (OT)

Barys bagged the point it needed to guarantee fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but allowed Metallurg to fight back for an unlikely win.

It seemed that the host was heading for a routine victory after Brendan Shinnimin and Roman Savchenko scored two goals in the space of a minute late in the second period. But Kuznya hit back with an even quicker double strike midway through the final session. Just six seconds separated Timur Fatkullin’s goal from Evgeny Solovyov’s equalizer as the visitor took maximum advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Alexander Komaristy then gave the KHL’s bottom team its 13th victory of the season with an overtime goal.

The result confirms the first playoff pair of the season. Barys will face Traktor in the first round, with the series beginning in Chelyabinsk on Feb 22.

Avtomobilist reaches the end of the road

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 Avangard Omsk 3 (SO)

The home team’s hopes of reaching the playoffs came to an end after letting a 2-0 lead slip in this one.

Nothing less than three points would do for Vladimir Krikunov’s men and at first it seemed that a vital victory was on the cards. Avangard’s Ilya Zubov was ejected from the game in the second minute for boarding, and Avto took advantage of that major penalty to score twice in 67 seconds. Petr Koukal forced home the first following Nikolai Timashov’s shot, then Alexei Vasilevsky made it two before the fourth minute was up.

But Avangard hit back. Alexander Perezhogin got away from Michal Cajkovsky to reduce the deficit in the second period and Pyotr Khokhryakov tied it up in the 54th minute. Overtime could not produce a winner but Nikolai Lemtyugov bossed the shoot-out, scoring twice to give the visitor the win.

Penalty trouble sinks Sibir

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (OT)

Two goals for Adam Polasek could not save Sibir from a damaging defeat that leaves its playoff prospects in the balance.

Although Ugra had little to play for in this game, the home time recovered from Polasek’s sixth-minute opener to tie the game through Andrei Alexeyev’s power play goal midway through the first period. Another power play early in the second led to Evgeny Lapenkov putting Ugra in front, and Sibir’s chances of making it into the top eight were hanging in the balance.

Polasek revived that dream when he made it 2-2 with two-and-a-half minutes left – yet another PP goal – but there was more trouble heading Sibir’s way.

Alexei Glukhov picked up a 5+Game penalty deep in regulation after apparently kicking away Lapenkov’s legs long after the puck was gone. That decision left Sibir short-handed in overtime, and Lapenkov recovered to assist on Alexeyev’s game-winner.

Sibir’s failure to win here was good news for Salavat Yulaev, which is guaranteed a playoff place regardless of Saturday’s result against Lada. The Siberians, though, must now win at Avtomobilist and hope that Admiral or Kunlun slip up on the final day.

Severstal claims 11th place in the West

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Spartak Moscow 1 (OT)

This clash of two Western Conference outsiders needed overtime to separate the teams.

The game began in a lively fashion, with Viktor Bobrov giving Spartak the lead in the seventh minute and Clay Wilson replying just 32 seconds later. But that was the end of the scoring until the home team got the winner in the 62nd minute. Wilson’s second goal of the night confirms that the Steelmen will finish in 11th place in the Western Conference.

Kunlun’s wait continues

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4 Kunlun Red Star 2

It’s going to be an anxious end to Kunlun’s first KHL season, with the Chinese team’s playoff fate now destined to be determined in its final game.

Victory in Yaroslavl would have been enough to bring Red Star a post-season place at the first attempt, but with the home team seeking to secure a seeded position in the West, Kunlun was always under pressure.

The opening exchanges set the tone: Daniil Apalkov scored a fine goal to give Loko the lead, then a comedy of defensive errors gave Yegor Averin the simplest of tasks to make it 2-0 inside 10 minutes. Max Warn’s power play goal before the intermission offered some hope for the visitor, but second-period markers from Alexander Kadeikin and Brandon Kozun put the game out of reach.

Red Star rallied bravely in the final stanza, reducing the deficit early on with a short-handed goal from Chad Rau, but there was no way back. Lokomotiv is now guaranteed a top-four finish in the West, but Kunlun travels to Dynamo Moscow on Saturday needing to make sure it stays ahead of Sibir or Admiral to reach the playoffs.

Title race goes down to the wire

SKA St. Petersburg 6 HC Sochi 2

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.

CSKA stays in pole position

CSKA Moscow 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2

CSKA is still on track to top the regular season table for the third year in a row after seeing off Torpedo.

Two goals in the latter half of the first period tipped the balance in the Army Men’s favor and leaves Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team just in front of SKA by virtue of winning more games in regulation.

Maxim Mamin opened the scoring for the home team in the eighth minute, only for Kaspars Daugavins to tie the scores soon afterwards. Having scored on its first power play, CSKA regained the lead just as Brandon McMillan emerged from the sin bin, thanks to a fine piece of play from defenseman Igor Ozhiganov. Showing skills more typically associated with a forward, he lured goalie Ilya Proskuryakov a long way out of his net, dumped him on his backside and then fired the puck into the danger zone from behind the goalline, celebrating his score as it bounced into the net of a stray skate. Bogdan Kiselevich added a third in the 16thminute and the game was already getting away from Torpedo.

Visiting head coach Peteris Skudra replaced Proskuryakov at the intermission – even though his goalie had picked up an assist on Daugavins’ goal – but the change did little to affect the game. Greg Scott made it 4-1 midway through the second period and Nikolai Zherdev’s power play goal in the last second of the stanza proved to be little more than consolation.

Jokerit loses battle, wins war

Jokerit Helsinki 4 Ak Bars 5

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.

Admiral denied playoff ticket

Dynamo Moscow 2 Admiral Vladivostok 1 (OT)

Admiral’s playoff push goes to the final game after it failed to hold on to a lead at Dynamo.

The Far East team would have clinched a top-eight place with victory in regulation here, and things were looking good when Dmitry Sayustov converted a power play in the 30th minute.

But Dynamo was out to claim a top-four finish of its own and Maxim Karpov tied the game early in the third. That took this encounter to overtime where Martins Karsums settled the outcome. Dynamo will finish no lower than fourth in the West, Admiral needs at least a point from Vityaz to secure its playoff passage.

Dinamo ends Neftekhimik’s hopes

Dinamo Minsk 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 (SO)

Neftekhimik needed to take three points from this game to prolong its push for a playoff place, but ended up leaving with just one.

Fredrick Pettersson was the man who did the damage, putting Dinamo ahead in the 18th minute and returning to finish the job in the shoot-out. Richard Gynge, another Swede, forced overtime with his last-minute tying goal and then scored his attempt in the shoot-out, but it wasn’t enough to keep Neftekhimik in contention for the top eight.

Amur rallies for shoot-out win

Vityaz Podolsk 2 Amur Khabarovsk 3 (SO)

Amur clawed back a two-goal deficit to beat Vityaz thanks to Tomas Zohorna’s decisive effort in the shoot-out.

Earlier the home team, still celebrating its first-ever KHL playoff spot, took the lead through Pavel Lukin in the 26th minute. Mikhail Yepishin doubled that advantage late in the second period, but Amur wasn’t done.

The visitor scored two goals in 26 seconds to tie the game in the third session. Vyacheslav Litovchenko reduced the arrears before Vitaly Atyushov levelled the scores.

Last-gasp goal saves Riga

Dinamo Riga 2 Lada Togliatti 1 (OT)

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.

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