The most dramatic game of the day was in Nizhny Novgorod, where Torpedo scored twice in a minute late on to beat SKA. Elsewhere, new Jokerit forward Sakari Manninen had 2+1 in his team’s win over Kunlun Red Star, while fellow Finn Joni Ortio produced a shut-out as Vityaz frustrated Neftekhimik. Ak Bars downed Dinamo Minsk 2-0.
Last season, Jokerit’s opener saw Eeli Tolvanen announce himself on the KHL stage in some style. This year, it was Sakari Manninen’s turn. Manninen, 26, is not quite the young sensation that Tolvanen proved to be. However, a three-point debut (two goals, one assist) from the former Orebro man suggests another potent force in Finland this season. Slotting alongside Peter Regin and Steve Moses, he’s part of a first line that could do some damage as the campaign unfolds.
As for Red Star, there were encouraging signs despite an opening loss. Victor Bartley needed less than three minutes to open his account in the KHL, and goalie Alexander Lazushin performed creditably in the first period as the teams went into the first intermission locked at 1-1.
But Jokerit took control in the second. Moses shot the Finns in front, then 67 seconds later Jesse Joensuu converted a neat drop pass from Viktor Loov. Manninen’s first of the game, converting a Moses feed, made it 4-1 at the second intermission.
Red Star heads did not drop. The start of the third saw the Chinese team give Jokerit a scare. Taylor Beck’s short-handed goal reduced the deficit, Marc-Andre Gragnani’s power play strike made it a one-goal game. But Manninen fed Regin for a goal that calmed home nerves, then the Finnish international wrapped it up himself with a devastating wrister as a misjudged line change allowed Jokerit to break at pace. Kunlun will point to the video review that denied Josh Nicholls a goal for 4-5, Jokerit claims the points
SKA’s Nikita Gusev needed just 34 seconds to open the scoring here – but Torpedo rallied to hand Ilya Vorobyov his first loss as head coach of the Army Men.
Gusev scored with the first shot of the game, benefiting from great traffic in front of Stanislav Galimov. Given the powerful performance SKA produced in Kazan on Saturday, it was tempting to conclude that Torpedo would be in for a long evening. That sense only increased when Dinar Khafizullin doubled the lead just before the first intermission. SKA was good value for its two-goal advantage; Torpedo seemed destined to struggle.
The road back for the host started with a misjudgement from Sergei Plotnikov. The SKA forward tried to take the puck back towards his own net and was robbed by Andrew Calof. He fed Robert Sabolic and the Slovenian international went top shelf to half the deficit. Tails up Torpedo, SKA stumbling, but a short-handed goal from Viktor Tikhonov restored the visitor’s cushion, ironically helped by a mistake from Sabolic. Vladimir Galuzin’s goal late in the middle frame kept Torpedo in the contest, but SKA was still very much in control.
In control, yes, but unable to extend its lead. And that proved costly in a dramatic finale, as Torpedo scored twice in a minute to turn the game on its head and snatch an unlikely victory. First came Anton Shenfeld on the power play. Next, SKA pushed forward in search of a winner of its own, only to come unstuck. Philip Holm chipped the puck up the ice, Denis Parshin raced onto it and won his duel with Magnus Hellberg. In the space of 36 seconds, Torpedo turned defeat into triumph.
Ak Bars bounced back from Saturday’s mauling against SKA to record a solid 2-0 victory over Dinamo Minsk.
The home side got the start it needed thanks to Paul Postma. The summer signing grabbed his first ever KHL goal with a thunderous shot from the point in the fifth minute and Ak Bars was on its way.
The second goal came midway through the game, and was a combination that could have graced last year’s championship campaign. Andrei Markov thumped in a shot from long range, Justin Azevedo got the touch to take it past Jhonas Enroth. Dinamo’s lack of intensity on defense cost it as Ak Bars had far too much time in the Minsk zone and Enroth was left exposed.
In the third period, Dinamo tried to find a way back into contention. However, it was unable to get past Alexander Sharychenkov in the Ak Bars goal. He celebrated a shut-out after replacing Emil Garipov, making 25 saves on the night.
The game on the Black Sea provided plenty of excitement as Sochi and Admiral traded eight goals before Denis Vikharev settled it for the visitor. The 26-year-old, promoted to the top line this season, gave his team a 3-2 verdict in the shoot-out after it let slip a two-goal lead in regulation.
There was a quick start, with Jyrki Jokipakka putting Sochi in front in the fourth minute, only for Alexander Mereskin to tie it up a minute later. Two goals in a minute late in the first period gave Admiral a convincing lead: Vladimir Butuzov’s one-timer made it 2-1, then Vasily Streltsov pickpocketed a home defenseman to score the third.
The second stanza saw Sochi battle back. Sean Collins scored on the power play to make it a one-goal game and put the pressure on Admiral. But it seemed the Sailors had weathered that storm when Kirill Voronin made it 4-2 with a power play goal early in the third.
Sochi had other ideas, and Oleg Pogorishny and Nikita Tochitsky hauled the host level before the end. The extras saw Sochi on top, but not even a power play chance late in the play could decide the outcome before a shoot-out.
A solitary goal early in the third period was enough to separate these teams, with Nikita Komarov potting the game-winner on his first competitive outing for his new club.
He fired in a shot from the top of the circle and the puck found its way into the net on the rebound as Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi pressured a retreating defenseman.
Another Vityaz new boy, goalie Joni Ortio, was the star of the game. He made 30 saves to begin his KHL career with a shut-out following his summer move from Skelleftea.