The big game of the day saw the conference leaders clash in Petersburg, with SKA edging Ak Bars in a shoot-out. CSKA remained close behind in the West after defeating Dynamo 2-1 in the Moscow derby. Jokerit enjoyed a road win at Barys while Sibir handed Avangard a heavy defeat. Kunlun Red Star moves into the top eight in the East after an overtime win against Spartak; Oleg Znarok’s team trailed 0-2, led 3-2, but could not hold off the Dragons. There were road wins for Vityaz at Amur and Severstal at Dinamo Riga.

Semin gives Vityaz the verdict

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 3 SO (1-1, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Vityaz claimed a shoot-out win at Amur as its Far East trip continues. The victory, secured by Alexander Semin, moves the Podolsk team up one place to fifth in the Western Conference and makes it five points from a possible six for Mikhail Kravets and his men. Despite earning a point for the tie in regulation, Amur reminds second from bottom of the East, with only Traktor beneath.

The Tigers made a lively start to the game but still fell behind midway through the first period when Joonas Nattinen opened the scoring for Vityaz. However, the home team kept plugging away and the twin threat of Vladislav and Vyacheslav Ushenin tied the game in the opening frame. Vladislav got the goal and would repeat the achievement late in the third to cancel out Semin’s 50th-minute tally and force the game into overtime.

Vityaz was not to be denied, however, and Semin got the shoot-out winner.

Dragons fly into top eight

Kunlun Red Star 4 Spartak Moscow 3 OT (2-0, 0-3, 1-0, 1-0)

Red Star came out on top in a roller-coaster of a game in Beijing, and the Dragons moved into the top eight in the Eastern Conference thanks to the win.

The first period was all about the home team, with Cory Kane scoring his first goal since Oct. 31 to give Kunlun the lead before Brandon DeFazio doubled the advantage on a short-handed play. But the second frame produced a complete turnaround. Spartak struck three times without reply. Ilya Zubov converted a power play at the start of the session then turned provider for Artyom Fyodorov’s power play strike late in the period. Within a minute, a Maxim Goncharov goal suggested that the recovery was complete – or was it?

Red Star did not think so. Gilbert Brule danced through the defense to set up Tyler Wong for the 3-3 goal early in the third period. The home team had the edge for the rest of the game, but it wasn’t until overtime that Trevor Murphy fired home the winner, again from a Brule feed.

Sibir storms past Avangard

Sibir Novosibirsk 5 Avangard Omsk 2 (2-1, 3-0, 0-1)

This game is still a Siberian derby, notwithstanding Avangard’s temporary relocation to the Moscow suburbs, and Sibir ensured bragging rights with an emphatic win over its rival.

The home team suffered an early blip when Sven Andrighetto gave the Hawks a fifth-minute lead, but from that point on it was one-way traffic until the second intermission. Juuso Puustinen and Alexander Sharov struck late in a hard-hitting first period to give Sibir the lead and the home team took complete control in the second.

It was a display of great offensive efficiency. Sibir spent three minutes on the attack, fired in nine shots and scored three unanswered goals. Viktor Komarov and Yegor Milovzorov scored either side of the midway point, then Nikita Mikhailov made it 5-1 just before the intermission.

Avangard dominated the final frame, allowing just one shot on Denis Kostin’s net after he replaced Igor Bobkov for the last 20 minutes. However, only a Evgeny Grachyov effort in the 56th minute made a dent on the scoreline as Sibir closed out a big win.

Anttila sees Jokerit over the line

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (0-0, 0-2, 2-2)

Jokerit left Kazakhstan with two points despite a nervous finale to this game. For much of the action, the Finns looked the stronger team: in the first period the visitor was on top, but Eddie Pasquale’s 14 saves in the home net kept the scoresheet blank at the intermission.

Pasquale’s resistance ended in the 26th minute when Steve Moses redirected a John Norman shot past the goalie to give Jokerit a deserved lead. Brian O’Neill went around the back late in the middle frame to double the lead.

Barys looked to its leaders and Roman Starchenko obliged early in the third with a solo effort to make it 1-2. Marko Anttila briefly restored a two-goal margin with a power play goal, but Curtis Valk ushered in a nail-biting conclusion when he made it 2-3 with three minutes left. The home fightback fell short, though, and Anttila sealed the win with an empty net goal.

Shalunov settles the Moscow derby

CSKA Moscow 2 Dynamo Moscow 1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

It was back-to-back derbies for CSKA and after losing out to Army rival SKA on Monday, a cross-town battle with Dynamo was more to the team’s taste. This game saw second in the west take on third, but the Blue-and-Whites missed a chance to show that the race for top spot in the conference might be more than a two-horse race this season.

Photo: 04.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

Even though the visitor opened the scoring, Juuso Hietanen’s effort was somewhat against the run of play. For 10 minutes, home goalie Ilya Sorokin was a virtual spectator, but Dynamo took advantage of its first power play and the Finnish D-man got the goal.

CSKA continued to press and got its reward late in the frame when Sergei Tolchinsky’s inertia saw him deflect the puck into the net with his leg. The officials checked the tape and saw nothing untoward in the play; the Army Men were level.

Dynamo might have restored the lead in the second period when Maxim Afinogenov released Daniil Tarasov, only for Sorokin to pull off a good save. The action steadily built to an enthralling conclusion with both sides creating chances to win it as the hooter drew near. Maxim Shalunov applied the decisive touch, bagging a power play goal in the 58th minute to leave Dynamo defeated.

SKA makes it 10 out of 10

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Ak Bars Kazan 1 SO (0-0, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

This was the clash of the titans: West vs East, two conference leaders going head-to-head and both teams looking to lay down a marker about where this season’s Gagarin Cup might be headed.

Photo: 04.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

While Ak Bars has topped the East for several weeks following Avtomobilist’s slide in October, SKA only hit the Western summit with victory over CSKA on Monday. That also took Alexei Kudashov’s team to nine successive wins, responding eloquently to those who suggested the team was struggling early in the season.

The early stages, though, did not live up to the billing as the day’s top game. In truth, the warm reception for Viktor Tikhonov on his first return to the club he represented from 2011 was the biggest talking point of the game until deep into the third period.

Then came Andrei Kuzmenko, a master of the unexpected. He found a neat solution to Adam Reideborn in the visitor’s net, darting behind the net, doubling back and bouncing the puck home off the Swede’s skate. 1-0 with eight minutes left, and points for Kuzmenko for the eighth game in a row.

It wasn’t quite enough to win it, though. Ak Bars salvaged the game with a well-taken power play goal from Patrice Cormier and the action went all the way to a shoot-out. Evgeny Ketov, today called into the Russia squad for the Channel 1 Cup, celebrated with the winning goal.

Yakimov snatches late winner in Riga

Dinamo Riga 0 Severstal Cherepovets 1 (0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

This clash of two Western Conference strugglers hung on two big moments – and both of them went Severstal’s way.

First, Lauris Darzins was given a golden opportunity to put the Latvians in front with a penalty shot midway through the second period. However, he was unable to punish Anton Sizov’s hooking misdemeanor and Severstal survived.

Late in the game, the visitor did more than merely survive: Bogdan Yakimov reacted first as the puck cannoned off the boards and his shot from a tight angle beat Alexander Salak and won the game for the Steelmen. The teams swap places in the table, with Severstal moving to 10th in the West.

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