Home advantage did little to help Eastern Conference favorites Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa as both suffered their first defeats of the season in front of their own fans. And in Cherepovets another 100% record came to an end as Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod went down to Severstal.
While Metallurg’s 4-2 loss to Ak Bars Kazan came in one of the KHL’s heavyweight clashes, the defending champions’ defeat in a shootout against Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk was a huge shock. It was no fluke, however: the visitors led three times in the game and it took a late equalizer from the free-scoring Igor Grigorenko to force overtime. Grigorenko hit two in the game and now has five goals this season, but his scoring feats were matched on Sunday by Maxim Pestushko. The former Dynamo man opened the scoring for Neftekhimik and was the only player to score in the shoot out as the Nizhnekamsk side got its first points of the season.
Taking no chances
In Magnitogorsk, Ak Bars triumphed with a solid display against Metallurg. Once summer signing Lauris Darzins had cancelled out Alexei Mikhnov’s opener on 11:48 it was relatively plain sailing for the visitors as Dmitry Obukhov (14:06), Danis Zaripov (37:05) and Nikolai Lemtyugov (41:45) put the Kazan side in total control. Sergei Mozyakin continued his scoring run with a late powerplay goal, but there was no way back for Metallurg.
After missing last season’s play-offs, few expected Torpedo to make the early running in the Western Conference - and their resounding 6-2 defeat at Severstal showed why. Two goals from Ruslan Nurtdinov helped the hosts pick up their second win of the campaign as Torpedo fell away alarmingly in the later stages after drawing level through Matt Ellison on 30:07. Astonishingly Torpedo gambled on withdrawing goalkeeper Pekka Tuokkola as early as the 54th minute, but Maxim Trunyov capitalized with an empty net goal on 55:08.
Around the league
Traktor snapped a two-game losing streak by overwhelming Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk 4-1 in Chelyabinsk. The combination of Konstantin Panov and Petri Kontiola did most of the damage, with the Finn getting assists on both of the Russian’s goals.
In Minsk, Dinamo suffered a second successive home defeat when they went down 3-2 to Atlant Moscow Region. Last year’s runners-up saw Alexei Kovalev get his first goal since returning from the NHL, while Janne Niskala finished with 1+1 on the night.