MOSCOW — The Kontinental Hockey League is cutting two clubs for the second season in a row and lowering its salary cap as it tries to revive flagging commercial fortunes.

Widely considered the strongest league outside the NHL, the KHL will drop to 25 teams for 2018-19 after cutting Russian teams Lada Togliatti and Yugra Khanty-Mansiisk.

The two clubs posted poor regular-season records, had low TV audiences and were heavily reliant on government funds to pay meager player salaries.

A third club, Severstal Cherepovets, earned a reprieve from KHL management after it qualified for the playoffs.

The KHL is trying to remove teams it sees as dead weight amid concerns the league has become less competitive, with the well-funded SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow frequently routing almost all other opponents.