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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Hard to look past confident CSKA in Moscow derby

Lars Johansson (in action for Chicago Blackhawks) has been well protected by the CSKA defence
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4.30pm Thursday

A Moscow derby should spark Spartak into life on home ice but it’s hard to look past CSKA in this Western Conference showdown.

The Horses head for the VTB Ice Palace on a nine-match winning run, a stunning burst that has all but booked their playoff place and puts them in a solid position to become number-two seeds behind defending KHL champions SKA.

Their last three victories have all been secured with shutouts – indeed in Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Dinamo Riga the Muscovites allowed just 14 shots on Lars Johansson’s net, a phenomenal defensive effort.

CSKA have won their last six matches against Spartak, scoring ten goals in the two away games in that sequence. When they met most recently in October, Igor Nikitin’s men won 3-1 at the CSKA Ice Palace.

But while CSKA are flying, Spartak’s form is mixed.

Admittedly they’ve improved after a sluggish start to the season but Tuesday’s 6-2 home defeat by Vityaz was a horror show. The second period, when they shipped four goals without reply, was unquestionably their worst period of the season.

That hammering has left the Red-and-Whites down in seventh place in the Western Conference and knowing that they can ill afford too many more mishaps with sides below them in the table like Vityaz turning on the gas.

Their poor form and poor record against CSKA indicates this is one fixture that may well be beyond them.

CSKA Moscow
2pts 4-7 Coral

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CSKA have won their last six matches against Spartak scoring ten goals in the two away games in that sequence
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