Lokomotiv Yaroslavl made a triumphant return to KHL hockey with a 5-2 success at Sibir Novosibirsk on the eve of the anniversary of last year’s air disaster.
On an emotional occasion, which drew a capacity crowd to the Sibir Arena, it was Staffan Kronwall, the Swedish defenseman signed fr om Severstal, who made all the difference with two goals – including the game-winner – and an assist.
But even if the day was all about Lokomotiv, Sibir put up a good fight until the halfway stage, taking an early lead through Arturs Kulda and tying the game a 2-2 in the 30th minute.
However, Kronwall got the go-ahead goal within two minutes, firing home from just inside the blue line with goaltender Sergei Gaiduchenko unsighted and the game was settled with two further goals on either side of the second interval.
Vityaz Chekhov shocked Salavat Yulaev with a shoot-out win in Ufa, serving notice that this season the Moscow Region side might be a more serious competitor than in recent years. And the success was no fluke – Vityaz led twice in regulation time, and could have won in overtime had Vyacheslav Kulyomin not missed with a penalty shot. That duel, however, was no omen for the eventual shoot-out, as Evgeny Timkin found a way past Iiro Tarkki for the winner. Salavat can take some comfort from a successful return for Kirill Koltsov, who posted 1+1 in the game, and from the fact the it rained 44 shots on Ivan Kasutin’s goal, even if it only scored two of them.
Traktor tramples Maurice debut
There was to be no winning start to KHL life for Metallurg Magnitogorsk coach Paul Maurice as his team lost its local derby 0-2 at Traktor Chelyabinsk. Clinical finishing made all the difference in a cagey game wh ere the sides shared just 53 shots between them.
For Traktor Deron Quint opened the scoring with a debut goal seconds from the end of the second period, and Evgeny Kuznetsov sealed the victory with an empty-netter. Michael Garnett claimed the shut-out.
Milan Kytnar had the honor of scoring Slovan Bratislava’s first KHL goal – but it wasn’t enough to hand the Slovak side victory over fellow newcomer Donbass Donetsk. Kytnar struck after just 66 seconds as Slovan made a dream start in front of a capacity crowd in Slovakia, but it wasn’t long before Evgeny Belukhin was writing his name into Donbass history with a first-period equalizer. The sides traded goals again in the second period before Jaroslav Obsut grabbed the winner for Donbass on 43:08.
Lev’s winning start
The league’s third new arrival, Lev Prague, made a winning start at home to Dinamo Riga, where two familiar names got on the scoresheet to seal the success. Lubos Bartecko, who once played for Dynamo Moscow and last season skippered Lev Poprad, tied the game late in the second, and former CSKA man Tomas Surovy got the go-ahead goal on 50:59 to see the Lions roar into KHL action.
Dynamo win double
Defending champion Dynamo Moscow picked up its second win of the season, beating Barys Astana 5-1 at Luzhniki.
A hat-trick from Richard Gynge, a summer signing from Sweden, sealed a convincing display from the hosts and gave the new man his first points in Russian hockey.
The home side took control in the first period as Yury Babenko forced home a Konstantin Kasyanchuk pass and then returned the favor to set the pre-season signing one-on-one with Vitaly Yeremeyev to double the lead.
In the second period Gynge got to work, finishing off Denis Kokarev’s pass clinically for his first before adding two more in the third. Talgat Zhailauov got the consolation goal for Barys.
SKA slips up
Last season’s silver medalist Avangard Omsk picked up its first win of the new season with a 2-1 win at SKA St. Petersburg. The Siberian side shrugged off the effects of Tuesday’s shoot-out loss in Moscow to take command in the first period with Alexander Nesterov opening the scoring before getting an assist on Anton Belov’s 2-0 goal.
SKA hit back with a short-handed goal from Maxim Afinogenov on 37:50, but could not find a winner despite dominating the final session.
Janne’s happy return
Ak Bars coasted to a comfortable victory over Severstal Cherepovets in Kazan – and Finnish forward Janne Pesonen made a goalscoring return to Tatarstan in a 5-2 success. Pesonen was joined on the scoresheet by compatriot Niko Kapanen, while Jarkko Immonen had two assists in a Nordic-accented first period which saw the hosts open up a 4-1 lead. Although Alexander Ryazantsev pulled one back early in the third, there was no way back for the visitors.
Around the league
Amur Khabarovsk beat Atlant Moscow Region for the second time in two days, but needed overtime to settle it after a 2-2 tie. Alexander Osipov got the vital goal, his second of the game.
There was overtime in Novokuznetsk as well, wh ere Torpedo recovered from 0-2 to tie with Metallurg, only for Dmitry Megalinsky to give the home side a 3-2 verdict on 63:32.
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk ensured a miserable start for new Dinamo Minsk head coach Kari Heikala, beating the Belarusians 3-0. The game was settled in the first period, as goals from Martin Cibak, Maxim Pestushko and Petr Koukal gave the home side an unassailable lead. Matt Dalton made 38 saves for the shut-out.