CSKA finished top of the KHL regular season table for the third year running after overwhelming city rival Spartak on the final day. That win meant that’s SKA’s victory over Torpedo was not enough to snatch first place. Elsewhere, Kunlun celebrated making the playoffs in its debut season despite defeat at Dynamo, Admiral rubber-stamped its place with a win at Vityaz and Sibir missed out despite after going to overtime at Avtomobilist.
Sibir came into Saturday’s game needing a win and a slice of luck. Three points in Yekaterinburg would have lifted the team above Kunlun and Admiral, with the Far Eastern teams playing later in the day and facing the added pressure of coming from behind to secure a playoff place.
For a time, it looked like Andrei Skabelka’s team would deliver. Avtomobilist had nothing to play for, and after a competitive start to the game Sibir got in front in the 35th minute when Yegor Milovzorov fired the rebound into the net after Vladimir Sokhatsky came a long way from his net to make a save. As it stood, that goal was enough to put Kunlun and Admiral in jeopardy.
But a one-goal advantage is always precarious, and Sibir suffered when Anatoly Golyshev tied the game in the 48th minute. There was no further scoring in regulation, and as the game went into overtime Sibir already knew its playoff dream was over.
That did not stop the visitor from claiming the victory – Stepan Sannikov was the only scorer in the shoot-out – but two points were not enough to sneak into the top eight.
The clouds that shrouded Salavat Yulaev for much of 2017 are lifting – and the Ufa team has a mouth-watering match-up to start its playoff campaign.
Victory at home to Lada secured sixth place for Igor Zakharkin’s team and that means a series against third-placed Ak Bars and a reprise of the ‘Green Derby’ between two of the KHL’s biggest rivals.
Salavat had to come from behind to win this one. Lada took an 11th-minute lead through Denis Zernov, and went ahead for a second time when Stanislav Bocharov scored midway through the second period. Sami Lepisto’s power play goal separated the visitors’ markers.
But the second half of the game was all about the host. Maxim Mayorov tied the scores in the 35th minute and the final stanza saw Stanislav Gareyev make it 3-2. With 15 minutes left, Salavat was ahead for the first time, and an empty-net goal for Denis Kulyash finished the job.
Two goals from Ilya Mikheyev saw Avangard wrap up its regular season with a win at Barys.
Both teams had confirmed the finishing positions in the Eastern Conference prior to Saturday’s game, and it was second-placed Avangard that had the better of this meeting. Mikheyev got his first on eight minutes and added another on the power play in the 34th. In between, Ilya Zubov also scored for the visitor.
Barys replied in the third through Roman Starchenko’s power play goal, but the fifth-placed team did not threaten to get back into the game.
Bottom club Metallurg signed off with an emphatic win to end a forgettable season. Stanislav Kalashnikov opened the scoring on the power play after 12 minutes, rifling home his first of the season.
The second period saw three unanswered goals for the visitor, with Igor Skorokhodov, Kirill Semyonov and Nikita Yazkov finding the net. Evgeny Kulik replied in the third, claiming his first of the campaign with less than three minutes to go for the season, but Ugra ended on a disappointing note.
CSKA knew that victory over city rival Spartak would clinch a third successive The Cup of Continent, regardless of SKA’s result at home to Torpedo – and the prospect of silverware inspired Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team.
The two teams had met back in January, with CSKA handing a humiliating 6-1 defeat to its neighbor, and the Army Men started out in a mood that suggested a repeat was on the cards. Vitaly Nichushkin deflected a Semyon Koshelev shot into the net after 107 seconds, setting the stage for a Red-and-Blue procession.
But there was a brief interruption: Sergei Shmelyov tied the game moments later with a solo breakaway effort before CSKA could consolidate its lead.
Spartak’s joy was short-lived. A penalty for Viktor Bobrov allowed Dmitry Kugryshev to make it 2-1 in the seventh minute and this time the host was in no mood to allow its opponent another chance. Sergei Andronov, Grigory Panin and then Koshelev all found the net before the end of the first period. CSKA 5-1 ahead, the race for top spot was all but run.
Now it was a question of how many, and whether Spartak could salvage some pride at the end of a miserable season for the Red-and-Whites. Mikhail Naumenkov made it 6-1 early in the second period, bringing up a repeat of last month’s painful scoreline. Soon afterwards, Spartak’s Denis Tolpeko was tossed from the game after leaving the team bench to wade into a fight with Artyom Sergeyev. A local derby should always be a fiery affair; that spat put 36 minutes on the penalty clock.
It was also the last significant action of the game as CSKA wrapped up the regular season in style. Now the Army Men will hope to translate this success into a first ever Gagarin Cup triumph.
Admiral learned that its voyage would continue when news came through that Sibir had failed to get the regulation win it needed earlier in the day.
But the Sailors still had the opportunity of taking seventh place in the East and avoiding a daunting start to the playoffs against Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Two goals from Andrei Sigaryov enabled the Far East team to do just that, pacing a 3-1 victory that sends Admiral to Avangard next week.
Vityaz, which will play its first ever KHL playoff series against SKA, took the lead through Alexander Pankov early in the second period. But Admiral equalized through Samvel Mnatsyan just after the half-hour and Sigaryov’s double strike early in the third settled the outcome. The score from Kunlun’s game at Dynamo confirmed a seventh-place finish.
Today big moment for many Kunlun fans wasn’t part of this game, but came in Yekaterinburg. Avtomobilist’s tying goal against Sibir was enough to guarantee a playoff spot for the Chinese team in its first ever season.
That represents a huge achievement for a team which, 12 months ago, existed purely as an idea under discussion in Beijing and Moscow.
The news may have filtered through to the team during the first intermission of this game. After a nervous first period, with the pressure of being so close seeming to weigh on Kunlun’s shoulders, the middle stanza saw a more relaxed, confident team. Tomi Sallinen put the visitor ahead in the 29th minute and the second goal looked more likely to go to Red Star.
A short-handed goal from Denis Kokarev changed all that, bringing Dynamo level and setting the home team on the way to victory. Martins Karsums got the decider early in the third period, meaning the Blue-and-Whites pipped Lokomotiv to third place and will face Torpedo in what looks like a highly competitive playoff series. For Kunlun, the first ever taste of playoff hockey will bring another big challenge – a match-up against defending champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
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.
A rollicking end the regular season in Minsk saw Ak Bars take the points ahead of its match-up with Salavat Yulaev, while Dinamo finds itself preparing to face Lokomotiv.
Atte Ohtamaa’s early goal gave Ak Bars the edge, but for a long time there was little indication of the goal flurry that was to come. It wasn’t until the 37th minute that Aaron Palushaj tied the scores and took us to the intermission at 1-1.
Then things changed fast. Alexander Svitov and Mikhail Varnakov scored two goals in 30 seconds to give Ak Bars a 3-1 lead. Sergei Kostitsyn soon reduced the deficit, and inside the last five minutes Fredrik Pettersson tied it up once again. Overtime?
Not this time. Andrei Popov popped up with a couple of minutes left to give Ak Bars the win.
Lokomotiv missed out on third place in the West, and now faces a playoff series against Dinamo Minsk after defeat in its final game of the regular season. For Amur, meanwhile, another disappointing season ends with some cause for optimism after four wins in its last five games.
The decisive moment here came in the 45th minute, when Pavel Dedunov and Alexei Byvaltsev scored two goals in 32 seconds to put Amur 4-3 ahead. For Byvaltsev it was the second of the game: he opened the scoring in the 18th minute, but after Max Talbot equalized Loko led twice through Alexander Polunin and Alexander Kadeikin.
That wasn’t enough for the home team, though, and Vyacheslav Litovchenko sealed a victory for Amur with a 50th-minute goal.
Both clubs were out of the playoff picture before today’s game, but Severstal at least enjoyed a victory to finish its season.
Three goals in eight minutes either side of the second intermission were enough to turn this game around for the host after Eric O’Dell gave Sochi the lead on eight minutes. Daniil Vovchenko tied it up late in the second period before Ruslan Karlin and Nikolai Stasenko made it 3-1 by the 48th minute. Ilya Krikunov pulled one back in the closing stages.
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.