The final day of action before the international break produced some close battles. SKA recorded its 11th successive victory, but needed a shoot-out to overcome a stubborn Dynamo Moscow. Avangard, meanwhile, saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 2-3 loss in the last two minutes of its game at home to Barys. Torpedo tried to do something similar at Vityaz but, after trailing 0-3, could only claw back two goals. There were also one-goal wins for Kunlun at Amur, Sibir at Traktor and Jokerit at home to Spartak. Metallurg broke the pattern, romping to a 5-1 success at home to Dinamo Riga.

Palola’s double paces Dragons’ win

Amur Khabarovsk 2 Kunlun Red Star 3 (1-1, 1-1, 0-1)

Olli Palola scored two goals and Devante Smith-Pelly got his first point in the KHL as Red Star went into the international break on a winning note. The Finnish forward had just two goals on his account so far this season but doubled that tally to shoot down Amur.

The home team made a bright start and opened the scoring with a power play goal after seven minutes. However, it wasn’t long before Palola cancelled out Igor Rudenkov’s opener to tie the scores at the first intermission.

The teams traded second-period goals. Ryan Sproul put the Dragons in front, with an assist from Smith-Pelly as he recorded his first point since arriving from the Capitals. Gunars Skvorcovs, once of Dinamo Riga, also got his first point of the season on that play; the Latvian was one of three players promoted from the VHL as injuries took a bite out of Red Star’s forward line. However, Hynek Zohorna tied the game late in the frame.

Palola got the game winner midway through the third period with another close-range finish. This one was awarded after a video review and proved enough to settle the outcome.

Potekhin celebrates 400th game

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Dinamo Riga 1 (2-0, 3-0, 0-1)

The Steelmen were much too strong for Dinamo and powered to a convincing victory with Bogdan Potekhin celebrating his 400th KHL appearance by scoring a goal and an assist.

Even without several leading players – including Sergei Mozyakin and goalie Vasily Koshechkin – Metallurg was too strong here. Potekhin started with an assist on Eric O’Dell’s opener before Arkhip Nekolenko marked his return from a long injury lay-off with a goal right on the hooter.

The second period began with Potekhin scoring the third goal, then Metallurg needed just four seconds on the power play to make it 4-0. Viktor Antipin was the scorer, and he moves to a club record 50 goals from a defenseman. The spell in the sin bin was not long enough for Rihards Marenis, who roared back onto the ice in search of a straightener with Andrej Nestrasil. That didn’t happen, and the Riga man was invited to cool down for a further 10 minutes.

Late in the second period Nikolai Vladimirov got his first KHL point with an assist as Roman Lyubimov made it 5-0; Roberts Lipsbergs got a power play goal for Dinamo in the third to deny Vasily Demchenko a shut-out on his first start for Metallurg.

Sibir edges Traktor

Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (0-0, 0-1, 1-1)

Sibir edged a valuable win in Chelyabinsk to remain in the thick of a tight battle for the top eight in the East. Monday’s victory keeps the Siberians in a three-way tie with Metallurg and Red Star, all on 41 points and occupying positions 7-9 in the conference table.

Traktor, meanwhile, remains rooted to the foot of the table despite a battling performance here. However, after an even first period, the host fell behind early in the second to an Alexei Yakovlev goal. His was assisted by Finnish duo Mikael Ruohomaa and Juuso Puustinen, both of whom extended their productive run to five games.

At the start of the third, Yegor Milovzorov doubled the Sibir lead and the visitor then endured a storm of Traktor pressure. The home team outshot its guest 15-6 but had only a late Nick Bailen goal to show for its efforts.

Ketov earns SKA a shoot-out win

Dynamo Moscow 2 SKA St. Petersburg 3 SO (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

SKA’s power play scored twice in four opportunities, but the visitor still needed a shoot-out to clinch its 11th straight win and return to the top of the Western Conference. A doughty Dynamo performance took this all the way, but when Evgeny Ketov was the only man to convert his post-game attempt that was enough to give Petersburg the win.

Photo: 09.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Dynamo (Moscow) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

In the early stages, Dynamo set the pace. The home team dominated the first period and deservedly went in front thanks to a goal from Ivan Igumnov in the seventh minute. However, after the Blue-and-Whites took their first penalty of the evening late in that opening frame, the pattern of the game changed.

Dynamo killed that penalty, but the momentum had shifted. SKA continued to press and got a second power play chance midway through the frame. This time, it produced a goal. Dmitry Kagarlitsky collected the puck on the edge of the trapezoid and realized there was space ahead of him. Using that gap, he jumped out to the slot and slung the puck low past Ivan Bocharov in the home net.

Early in the third, Kagarlitsky was involved again as SKA went ahead with another power play goal. This time the former Dynamo man fed Nail Yakupov in the right-hand circle and his team-mate did the rest with a powerful shot. But Dynamo hit back. Changing on the fly, Andrei Alexeyev came off the bench and headed straight to the back door where Dmitry Moiseyev’s pass was waiting for him to finish it off.

There was no further scoring, although Alexander Samonov was called upon to make a big save to deny Michal Cajkovsky an overtime winner for Dynamo. And the former Vityaz goalie froze out the home team in the shoot-out to give his team the verdict.

Spartak falls short in Helsinki

Jokerit Helsinki 3 Spartak Moscow 2 (2-1, 1-0, 0-1)

Jokerit made it four wins in a row and opened a two-point gap over fifth-placed Spartak as the teams battle for position among the chasing pack in the West. The Finns have hit some form of late after picking up three wins on a long road trip to Novosibirsk, Nur-Sultan and Ufa, while Spartak has stumbled into a sequence of alternating victory and defeat.

Both teams played their part in an engaging first period. Jokerit was first to show, taking the lead through Steve Moses in the sixth minute, but Spartak created chances and forced a good post-to-post save from Janis Kalnins midway through the session. A power play goal for Mikko Lehtonen doubled the home lead, but only for a matter of seconds before Anatoly Nikontsev pulled a goal back for Spartak.

The Finns started the second period with a 5-on-3 power play but that did not come off and Spartak continued to look menacing when it got the puck forward. However, penalty trouble eventually caught up with the visitor late in the frame when Sami Lepisto made it 3-1.

Spartak was not quite finished. Kaspars Daugavins pulled a goal back with six minutes left, but the visitor could not find a way past Kalnins for a third time and Jokerit held on to take the win.

Vityaz holds off Torpedo fightback

Vityaz Moscow Region 3 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (1-0, 2-1, 0-1)

Torpedo came close to pulling off another great escape in Podolsk, but the home team hung on to send David Nemirovsky’s team spinning to a fourth successive loss.

The only goal of the first period came in the 16th minute when Alexei Makeyev scored off Alexander Semin’s feed. Then, two quick goals in the second period pushed the lead out to 3-0 and had Torpedo in trouble.

But throughout this season, Torpedo has made a habit of fighting back in difficult situations and today was no exception. Daniil Ilyin got one back on the power play late in the second stanza and Damir Zhafyarov snaffled a short-handed effort at the start of the third to put the game back in the balance. The visitor also hit the post before Ilya Ezhov stopped a Ty Rattie breakaway effort but this time there was no way back for Torpedo. Vityaz moves above Spartak into fifth place in the West.

Late double stuns Avangard

Avangard Omsk 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 3 (2-0, 0-1, 0-2)

Avangard’s evening fell apart in the last three minutes when a double penalty allowed Barys to snatch a spectacular late victory.

Photo: 09.12.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Avangard (Omsk) - Barys (Nur-Sultan)

The home team was closing out a 2-1 lead when it took two penalties on one shift. Rob Klinkhammer and Andrei Stas went to the box and Barys scented salvation. Within 10 seconds, the visitor tied the game: Darren Dietz with the point shot, Corban Knight with the finishing touch. But the power play continued, 5-on-4 now, and Barys took full advantage to win it on a goal from Nikita Mikhailis.

It was an unwelcome sting in the tale for Avangard, which started the game strongly. Kirill Semyonov opened the scoring early on and Semyon Koshelev doubled the lead midway through the first period. That chased Eddie Pasquale from the crease and incoming goalie Henrik Karlsson had the answers to the home offense. Roman Savchenko halved the deficit midway through the second period and all that late drama sent the points back to Kazakhstan.

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