In the Western Conference there is also an unfamiliar name on top of the early rankings – newboy Lev Prague continued its fine start with a comfortable win at Dinamo Minsk. The Czechs have bounced into the KHL with aplomb, and Juraj Mikus was the hero of the 4-0 success in Belarus. The forward – not to be confused with the defender of the same name - opened the scoring on nine minutes and provided assists for Marcel Hossa and Mikhal Sersen as Lev made it five wins from six in its debut campaign.
Neftekhimik leads the way
Petr Koukal may not be the most famous name to start playing KHL hockey this season, but Neftekhimik’s Czech forward might prove to be one of the most astute signings of the season. His overtime winner at Barys Astana continued his record of notching at least one point in every game he’s played since moving to Russia, and maintained his team’s position at the top of the table with 14 points from six games.
Koukal’s goal came 109 seconds into overtime following a 2-2 tie in the Kazakh capital. Neftekhimik led twice through Pyotr Khokhryakov and Igor Polygalov, but Konstantin Pushkaryov’s first goal since returning to Barys took the game into overtime.
Five-star Ak Bars
Ak Bars Kazan is hard on Neftekhimik’s heels, and Alexei Morozov inspired a 5-0 win at Avangard Omsk to keep the Tatar team ticking over. Morozov scored the first and last goals of a comprehensive triumph, both on the powerplay, while Konstantin Barulin made 38 saves for the shut-out. By contrast, Avangard replaced goalie Karri Ramo after Saturday’s 2-6 home reverse to Neftekhimik, but replacement Eduard Reizvikh found things little easier. Avangard also had bad news off the ice, with news that Roman Cervenka, last season’s star striker, has chosen to return to his native Czech Republic and play for Slavia Prague rather than swap Calgary Flames for Omsk during the NHL lockout.
Satan shoots down SKA
Miroslav Satan grabbed the game-winner as Slovan Bratislava picked up a notable triumph over SKA St. Petersburg. The Slovak side won 4-2 on home ice, thanks to a late burst inspired by Satan’s goal on 56:32. Within 35 seconds Slovan had scored again, Milan Bartovic making it 4-2 and ensuring the points were safe. Earlier the home side had led twice, only to be pegged back by the league’s leading point scorer Patrick Thoresen, who got SKA’s first and assisted Petra Prucha on the second.
Donbass awaits first home win
Donbass Donetsk is still waiting for its first KHL home win – and for the second game running it went down in a shoot-out on home ice. Randy Robitaille was the villain for Ukrainian fans this time, scoring the only post-game goal past Erik Ersberg following a 3-3 tie with Metallurg Novokuznetsk. But the newcomer can take heart from another performance which showed promise and character: despite conceding a goal after just 49 seconds, Donbass battled back to tie the first period thanks to Oskars Bartulis. In the second session Robitaille was on the mark again as Metallurg opened up a 3-1 lead, but Vaclav Nedorost and Jani Tuppurainen forced overtime.
CSKA’s shoot-out success
CSKA sank Vityaz in a shoot-out following a 4-4 tie in Chekhov – but Alexander Korolyuk still impressed for the home side. He scored twice – once on a powerplay, once with a penalty shot – to inspire a fight-back from 1-4. But in the shoot-out it was Alexander Radulov who showed his class, added the decisive goal to an earlier assist, while Korolyuk missed his team’s last chance in the sudden death climax.
Around the league
A strong second-half show from Sibir Novosibirsk led the team to a 5-3 win at Spartak Moscow – thanks largely to Jori Lehtera’s 1+4 return. After conceding inside three minutes, the Siberians struck back with unanswered goals in the second session, and Arturs Kulda got his second of the game on 47:47 to make it 4-1. Spartak rallied with goals from Stefan Ruzicka and Nikolai Bushuyev, but could not complete the fightback.
Three powerplay goals helped Salavat Yulaev to only its second win of the season, 3-1 at Yugra. Denis Khlystov’s effort on 47:34 proved decisive.