Andy Potts,
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Eelo Tolvanen, still just 18, blasted his second hat-trick of his rookie KHL season to lead Jokerit to a 5-2 victory over Vityaz. The youngster produced a game-changing performance to bring his team back from 0-2 down. Sibir also staged a big comeback to with 4-3 in overtime at home to Lokomotiv, while SKA made it 15 wins in a row with a 4-1 success at Barys. Dinamo Riga’s wretched run continues: today’s loss at home to Kunlun Red Star is the Latvians’ 11 in a row.

Loko stunned in last four minutes

Sibir Novosibirsk 4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 OT (0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 1-0)

Late goals from Alexander Sharov and Andrei Sigaryov enabled Sibir to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at home to Loko.

The outcome seemed to be settled when Brandon Kozun potted his second of the night in the 55th minute to make it 3-1 to the visitor. Far from the end, though, the excitement was just beginning. Sharov reduced the deficit on 56:14 after Jonas Enlund threatened to go coast-to-coast on Loko. Then Sigaryov got his second of the night, stuffing the puck home from close range after Alexander Bergstrom’s rush to the net.

That took us to overtime, and Patrik Zackrisson grabbed the winner off Bergstrom’s pass. Zackrisson went short side on Alexander Sudnitsin to claim the game-winning goal for the second time in three days.

Dynamo hails the ‘new Komarov’

Avangard Omsk 0 Dynamo Moscow 1 (0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

When Dynamo won its first Gagarin Cup, defeating Avangard in the final, Leo Komarov was a key figure in the Blue-and-White camp. The Finnish international remains something of a cult figure among fans in Moscow – but now there’s a new Komarov to cheer.

Nikita, 29, is no relation to Leo. He came to Dynamo in the summer after one season at Avtomobilist and two at Dinamo Minsk. Little in his stats suggested he would prove much more than an honest journeyman, but moving to Moscow clearly suits him. A marking in the opening game of the season set the tone; now he’s up to six from 15 games – already matching his best ever goal return in the KHL.

The latest of those efforts was enough to settle this game, and maintain a personal streak of three in three and four in the last five when he snaffled a close-range finish early in the third. Goalie Alexander Yeryomenko shared top billing with 33 saves.

SKA keeps on rolling

Barys Astana 1 SKA St. Petersburg 4 (0-2, 0-2, 1-0)

The venues change, the opponents change, but the outcome remains the same. SKA made it 15 wins in a row after ruthlessly dismissing Barys.

The pre-game talk was about the scoring race between Nigel Dawes and Ilya Kovalchuk, but Sergei Kalinin was the man who made the immediate impact. Kalinin scored twice in the first six minutes, with one assist from Kovi, to put SKA in control.

Patrik Hersley made it 3-0 on the power play before Kovalchuk claimed another helper on Alexander Barabanov’s strike as the visitor had this one wrapped up inside 40 minutes.

Barys pulled one back early in the third, with 19-year-old Kirill Polokhov creating a memorable moment when he scored his first ever KHL goal. That triggered a strong offensive display until the siren, but Igor Shestyorkin dealt with everything the Kazakhs could throw at him.

Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk 1 Dinamo Minsk 2 (0-0, 1-1, 0-1)

Ugra’s toils continue after slipping to a seventh straight defeat on a late, late Dinamo goal.

There were just 50 seconds left when Evgeny Kovyrshin popped up with the decisive play of the game, collecting his third goal of the season when he tucked away the rebound after Justin Fontain’s shot was padded away.

Earlier, Dmitry Buinitsky gave Dinamo a second-period lead, only for Veli-Mati Savinainen to tie the game on the power play in the 36th minute.

Tolvanen’s treble downs Vityaz

Jokerit Helsinki 5 Vityaz Podolsk 2 (0-2, 2-0, 3-0)

In case there was any doubt, that opening day hat-trick was no flash in the pan. Eeli Tolvanen looks very much like the real deal, even at the age of 18, and he scored his second treble of the season to defeat Vityaz here.

The 18-year-old’s contribution to this game was even more impressive than his debut hat-trick against Dinamo Minsk. On that occasion, Jokerit was already well in control of the game, but here Tolvanen led a fightback from 0-2 down.

Vityaz was in strong position after the first period thanks to goals from Alexander Nikulin (after a mere 16 seconds) and Maxim Afinogenov. Then Tolvanen came out to play. In the 24th minute he reduced the deficit with a power play goal, collecting Sami Lepisto’s pass out at the point and striding forward to launch a wrister from inside the circle. John Norman tied it up as the second intermission approached, and the game remained deadlocked until the last 10.

Tolvanen broke that deadlock, once again collecting the puck on the blue line and showing great confidence to go at the visiting defense and open a shooting lane for himself. 3-2. Four minutes later, and the youngster had his hat-trick as Jokerit assumed control of the game. Jesse Joensuu reacted smartly to grab a loose puck in front of the net, and his pass presented Tolvanen with another opportunity to show off his natural finishing skills. Tommi Huhtala added a fifth to wrap up the scoring, but this was undoubtedly the Tolvanen show.

Admiral Torpedo-ed

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Admiral Vladivostok 0 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0)

Admiral’s unhappy season continued after failing to trouble Torpedo and slipping to a fourth straight loss. The visitor mustered just 18 shots on Stanislav Galimov’s net as it went down with barely a murmur.

Denis Barantsev gave the host a ninth-minute lead, recording his sixth goal of the season. After a second period disfigured by a rash of penalties, Torpedo went on to extend that lead in the third. Yegor Dugin made it 2-0 before Denis Parshin added an empty-net marker.

Spartak eases past Amur

Spartak Moscow 4 Amur Khabarovsk 1 (1-0, 2-1, 1-0)

Spartak recorded a second comfortable victory in three days after dismissing Amur.

There was little between the teams in a cautious opening stanza, but a late power play chance saw Dmitry Yudin put the home team ahead eight seconds before the intermission. Ben Maxwell added a short-handed goal early in the second, and not even Alexander Gorshkov’s reply for the visitor could threaten the Red-and-Whites thereafter.

Viktor Komarov added the third, then assisted as Ryan Stoa made it 4-1.

Photo: 25.09.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Spartak (Moscow) - Amur (Khabarovsk)

Keenan returns with win, Dinamo still struggles

Dinamo Riga 1 Kunlun Red Star 2 (0-1, 0-0, 1-1)

Mike Keenan was back behind the bench following a one-game suspension, and his presence inspired Red Star to snap a three-game losing streak and finish this road trip with something to cheer.

However, his opposite number Sandis Ozolins, another legend of the game, has far less to celebrate after seeing his Dinamo team slump to an 11th straight loss.

Wojtek Wolski was the difference between these teams. He opened the scoring in the ninth minute as Dinamo allowed the kind of goal that seems to plague struggling teams. Mikelis Redlihs, one of the most experienced players on the roster, inexplicably stumbled over the puck on his own blue line; Wolski was in like a flash to capitalize.

Neither team was high on confidence, and neither goalie was overstretched in the second period. But Red Star won it early in the third when Marek Daloga exchanged passes with Wolski before unleashing a shot from the blue line to make it 2-0. Nikita Jevpalovs gave the home team hope with a 57th-minute goal, but there was no late fightback.

Photo: 25.09.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Dinamo (Riga) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Telegin snatches the points for CSKA

CSKA Moscow 3 Slovan Bratislava 2 (1-1, 1-0, 1-1)

Two defeats in a row was no reason to hit the panic button for CSKA, but Ivan Telegin’s late winner here was greeted with more relief than usual.

On paper, this looked a mismatch: recent stumbles notwithstanding, CSKA appeared to be a class above a Slovan team that had lost seven in a row prior to its arrival in Moscow. But Telegin’s winner came with just 12 seconds left in an absorbing contest.

It all came from a face-off in the CSKA zone, and a slip by Colby Genoway to let the puck elude him on the blue. Genoway chased back to retrieve his error, but with Telegin breathing down his neck the defenseman mishit a pass across his own goal. The Russian international needed no second invitation; CSKA snatched the points with moments to spare.

Earlier, Slovan had rocked the home team by taking a fourth-minute lead through Tomas Hrnka. The 25-year-old opened the scoring with his first goal of the season as CSKA endured a penalty. Roman Lyubimov tied it up in the eighth minute, but Slovan stubbornly refused to yield. Valery Nichushkin put the home side 2-1 up early in the second, only for Simon Despres to level the scores at the start of the third. That goal looked to have earned at least a crack at overtime, but Telegin had other ideas.

Photo: 25.09.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. CSKA (Moscow) - Slovan (Bratislava)

Andy Potts,
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