CSKA made it seven wins in a row after edging a game against Army rival SKA.
Prior to Friday’s big clash there was much discussion about the impact of the upcoming World Cup on the two teams. SKA came into the game with a temporary new leader: Pyotr Vorobyov was standing in for Oleg Znarok while the latter prepared team Russia for its engagements in Toronto later this month. That also had an impact on the personnel as Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeny Dadonov and Vadim Shipachyov all headed off for warm-up games against the Czech Republic. Meanwhile CSKA had to contend with the absence of Ivan Telegin as preparations intensify for the start of the international tournament on September 15.
The home side has been in impressive form in recent weeks, climbing to the top of the table on the back of a six-game winning streak, and that continued here against one of its biggest rivals for honors this season.
Greg Scott gave CSKA the lead with the only goal of the first period. The Canadian got a touch on Igor Ozhiganov’s shot from the blue line to take the puck past Igor Shestyorkin, who got the start ahead of another World Cup-bound player, Finland’s Mikko Koskinen.
The visitor tied it up on the power play thanks to a combination of two big-name players who didn’t make Russia’s squad. Ilya Kovalchuk provided the pass, Slava Voynov delivered the finish from the blue line.
But the lead did not last. Stephane da Costa converted a CSKA power play two minutes later with an emphatic one-timer from the top of the circle off a pass from former SKA forward Jonas Enlund.
That left SKA with about half the game to try to find a way back, and the Northern regiment gave it a good go, especially in the third period with 13 shots on Viktor Fasth’s net compared with just four on Shestyorkin’s. It wasn’t enough, however, and CSKA held on for a seventh successive win and opens up a five-point lead at the top of the table.
Barys Astana 3 Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk
It’s been a long time in coming – too long for former head coach Andrei Nazarov – but Barys finally has its first win of the season.
The Kazakh team brought in Eduard Zankovets behind the bench earlier this week after Nazarov was fired in the wake of Kazakhstan’s failure to qualify for the Olympics. He had also presided over three KHL defeats for Barys, straining the patience of the Kazakh Hockey Federation.
But Zankovets got off to a winning start thanks to Eduard Shin’s first goal of the season, snapping a 2-2 tie moments before the second intermission. It was never a comfortable game; Barys was under constant pressure in the final session and had to rely on 12 saves from Henrik Karlsson to secure the win. Earlier the home team led twice thanks to Kevin Dallman and Brandon Bochenski. Ugra hit back through Konstantin Panov and Vitaly Shulakov.
Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Medvescak Zagreb 0
Alexander Salak returned to action for Sibir after sitting out the five-game ban he received for his angry reaction to his team’s playoff exit last season. And the Czech international goalie had a perfect homecoming, making 33 saves in a shut-out against Medvescak.
The Croatian team put Salak to the test in the opening stanza, outshooting Sibir 12-8, only to fall behind to Joonas Kemppainen’s power play goal early in the second. Eero Elo doubled the advantage in the 39th minute with his first goal for the club since arriving in the summer. Maxim Shalunov’s fourth of the season completed the scoring.
There was still time for some rough stuff. Vitaly Menshikov and Mike Glumac got into a fight in the 55th minute and later Gilbert Brule was handed a 5+20 for spearing.
Metallurg Novokuznetsk 2 Slovan Bratislava 1
Valery Zelepukhin got his first win behind the bench at Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Zelepukhin took over the role after Kuznya lost two of its first three games, and then proceeded to lose the next three on the road.
But back in Novokuznetsk the team ended its unhappy streak with a narrow win over Slovan. Kirill Semyonov’s fifth-minute goal offered the perfect start and Denis Vikharev’s first of the season – assisted by recent signing Mikhail Anisin – doubled the lead in the second.
That was the cue for Slovan to up its offense, firing in 41 shots in the second and third periods. Vaclav Nederost pulled one on a late power play, keeping the game on a knife-edge to the last, but with an impressive 50 saves 21-year-old goalie Andrei Kareyev kept the Slovaks at bay.