It was a good day for the Conference leaders as both CSKA and Avtomobilist picked up wins while their closest challengers lost ground. For CSKA, a 3-1 win over SKA had the combined advantage of boosting the Muscovites and denting the progress of the second-placed team in the west. Avtomobilist, meanwhile, edged Torpedo in a shoot-out before hearing that Ak Bars lost in overtime against Barys. Lokomotiv’s good form continued with a sixth straight win on the road. A single goal was enough to beat Dinamo Minsk. HC Sochi’s new head coach began with a shoot-out loss against Amur, Neftekhimik edged Metallurg in Magnitogorsk.

Metallurg’s power play can’t deny Neftekhimik

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 4 (1-1, 2-3, 0-0)

Metallurg’s five-game winning streak came to an end as Neftekhimik recorded its first victory in Magnitogorsk since 2015. The home team was lifted by the return of Sergei Mozyakin after a month out and the team captain slotted into the third line alongside Taylor Beck and Andrej Nestrasil. He even collected his first point of the season but could not lead his team away from defeat.

The game’s first power play brought the opening goal. It took Neftekhimik just 14 seconds to punish Yegor Yakovlev’s indisrection, with Vladimir Galuzin redirecting a Mikhail Byakin shot through Vasily Koshechkin’s pads. Magnitka tied the scores late in the frame when Semyon Koshelev got a power play goal in response.

If the opening stanza was even, the middle frame began with Neftekhimik getting on top. A misplaced pass along the blue line triggered a breakaway for the visitors and Ildar Shiksatdarov made it 2-1. A couple of minutes later, it was three: Marat Khairullin tried his luck from a tight angle and saw his effort bounce off Koshechkin’s helmet and into the net. Then at the midway point, Byakin stuffed home the rebound after the goalie spilled a shot from Galuzin.

However, Neftekhimik’s PK always gave Metallurg a chance. The home team enjoyed a man advantage for the second time when Alexei Volgin sat for tripping, and Koshelev duly obliged with his second power play goal of the night. And, late in the frame, another penalty led to another goal when Mozyakin switched the play to set up Beck.

Discipline was Neftekhimik’s watchword in the third as it defended a one-goal lead. Metallurg poured forward — more than seven minutes on the attack, 17-6 on the shot count. The visitor blocked seven further shots and, more importantly, stayed out of the box as it held on for the win.

In-form Loko stays on the winning road

Dinamo Minsk 0 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 (0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

A goal from Yegor Korshkov three minutes before the end was enough to earn Lokomotiv its sixth successive victory. Andrei Skabelka’s team has faced a gruelling schedule of six road games, never with more than one rest day in between, but has thrived in adversity to climb to third in the West.

This trip to Belarus always looked like a tough test. The teams were level on points going into the game, and Dinamo had won its last two to correct a slight wobble earlier in the month. However, the home team found itself without any of its imports for this game, with players ruled out for a variety of health and other reasons.

That meant 20-year-old goalie Nikita Tolopilo faced the brunt of a lively Lokomotiv offense — and the youngster performed bravely under pressure. He even kept his goal intact after Yegor Sharangovich took a major penalty after his stick caught an opponent in the face. However, he was beaten in the 57th minute when Korshkov’s meaty effort forced the puck home. Eddie Pasquale made 15 saves to complete his shut-out.

Shoot-out revenge for Avtomobilist

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 SO (1-0, 0-2, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1)

For the second time this season these teams needed a shoot-out to separate them and, for the second time, it was the visitor that left with the win. Avtomobilist avenged its September loss on home ice to retain top spot in the East.

Photo: 16.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

The Motormen had to come from behind to get the win, though. Torpedo started the game brightly and took the lead midway through the first period thanks to Danil Voyevodin. Avto turned the scoreline around in the latter half of the second period, with Alexei Vasilevsky and Vyacheslav Litovchenko on target as the visitor dominated the play.

However, Torpedo responded by seizing the initiative once more in the third. Torpedo dominated the play, outshot Avtomobilist comfortably and could have had more than a Brady Austin goal to celebrate. As it was, the game went to overtime, where the visitor killed a penalty, before a long shoot-out was settled by Peter Holland.

Okulov snipes CSKA to derby win

CSKA Moscow 3 SKA St. Petersburg 1 (1-1, 1-0, 1-0)

Two goals from Konstantin Okulov made all the difference in Friday’s big game. His two power play efforts secured victory in this Army Derby and consolidated CSKA’s position on top of the Western Conference.

Photo: 16.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. CSKA (Moscow) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

The host took the lead in the eighth minute. Dmitry Samorukov’s point shot took a deflection and dropped for Mikhail Naumenkov to score with a wrist shot from close range. The home team continued to dominate play until Naumenkov took a cross-checking penalty. Given a chance on the power play, though, SKA needed just eight seconds to tie the game. Linden Vey fired in the puck from the boards and Kirill Marchenko finishing off in front of Alexander Sharychenkov.

CSKA completely dominated the second period, outshooting SKA 19-3 and giving Magnus Hellberg a thorough work-out in the visitor’s net. But it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the home team got back in front thanks to a fine power play goal from Konstantin Okulov. The forward collected a pass out wide, stepped inside and picked his moment to fire in a shot despite the attentions of Igor Ozhiganov. This time, Hellberg was powerless as the puck ripped under the crossbar.

The CSKA power play took time to click this season, with Igor Nikitin facing questions about its efficacy early in the campaign. But today it worked well when needed and Okulov was the chief contributor. He began the third frame with another PP goal, repeating his second period effort to take the game away from SKA. As the clock ticked down, a fight between Evgeny Timkin and Sergei Andronov got the visitors’ pulses racing once more, but even a livelier finale from SKA could not save the team from defeat.

Stavrovsky can’t stop Sochi’s slide

HC Sochi 3 Amur Khabarovsk 4 SO (1-0, 1-2, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Evgeny Stavrovsky took charge of Sochi for the first time after his appointment as head coach of the Leopards. The 47-year-old has no top level experience as a player, but learned his craft as a coach in his native Cherepovets. In 2011 he took a position with Almaz in the JHL, becoming the team’s head coach in 2015. Last season brought a first taste of international action, working with Russia’s U17s and the current campaign saw Stavrovsky get his first KHL job as assistant to Andrei Razin at Severstal.

Now, his progress has earned him a head coach role in the big league, replacing Alexander Andriyevsky after the Belarusian departed earlier this week. Stavrovsky’s immediate task was to halt a three-game skid and get a win over struggling Amur, another team that has changed coaches this season with Sergei Svetlov replacing interim head coach Pavel Turgayev early in the campaign.

Initially, that task was well in hand. Two goals from Oleg Pogorishny either side of the first intermission put Sochi 2-0 up. But struggling teams often find a lead is a fragile thing and late in the second period Amur hit back. Kirill Rasskazov continued his good form since returning to action, then Vladislav Ushenin potted a power play goal eight seconds before the intermission. Midway through the third, Vladimir Butuzov put the Tigers ahead for the first time, but Jere Karjalainen tied it up for Sochi to take the game all the way to a shoot-out.

The good news for Stavrovsky is that Sochi collected its first point since winning in Minsk on Oct. 7. The bad news, though, is that it was just one point. Marek Langhamer saved three attempts from Sochi, Amur converted three of its four efforts and Denis Golubev’s goal was ruled the winner.

Third overtime success for Barys

Ak Bars Kazan 0 Barys Nur-Sultan 1 OT (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

It took 61 minutes to separate these two teams — and Roman Starchenko’s overtime winner made it three in a row for Barys. The result lifts Yury Mikhailis’ team into the playoff places in the East, while Ak Bars loses ground in the race for top spot.

The decisive goal came after Darren Dietz brought play down the left boards and into Ak Bars territory. The defenseman moved the puck towards the net, where Starchenko was waiting to laser his wrister into the top corner past Amir Miftakhov.

That completed a third successive overtime win for Barys while Ak Bars suffered a sixth loss in nine games. That run coincides with the absence of Nigel Dawes, Danis Zaripov and first-choice goalies Adam Reideborn and Timur Bilyalov, although today’s team was boosted by the return of the experienced Kirill Petrov.

The first period saw chances at both ends: Barys enjoyed a long 5-on-3 power play without creating anything to seriously trouble Miftakhov, then Ak Bars had the puck in the net but Mikhail Glukhov’s effort was whistled off for kicking. The rest of regulation was short of clear-cut chances as both sides worked hard to cancel out each other’s offenses. However, when Starchenko got his opportunity at last, he secured the win for Barys.

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