The surprise of the day came in Kazan, where Vityaz defeated defending champion Ak Bars 5-3. Jokerit, Spartak and Torpedo all claimed their second wins of the season, the latter coming from 0-2 to beat Dinamo Minsk. Barys began its campaign with a bang, thumping Neftekhimik 6-1 in Nizhnekamsk.
Jokerit made it two wins from two with a second successive victory over Far Eastern opposition. After downing Kunlun in its opening game, the Finnish team followed up with a come-from-behind success against Amur.
Jokerit’s Latvian goalie Janis Kalnins made his debut for the club but found himself allowing the first goal as Amur made a bright start. The visitor got the lead in the 16th minute through Denis Golubev.
In the middle frame, a quick pair of goals from Mika Niemi and Pekka Jormakka put Jokerit 2-1 up as the game turned around sharply. At the other end, Kalnins was still busy. Amur refused to lie down and the goalie finished with 30 saves to secure the win. A third-period goal from Niklas Jensen added some gloss to the final scoreline for the Finns, but it was Kalnins’ performance that took the plaudits.
Vityaz, coached by long-serving Ak Bars assistant Valery Belov, sprang a surprise for the defending champion when it grabbed a high-scoring victory.
Although this game was always tight, Belov’s men were in front for much of the action against Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s Gagarin Cup holders and took the verdict on a Borna Rendulic goal midway through the final period. The Croatian international struck on the power play, firing home a pass Vojtech Mozik as Nikita Komarov screened Alexander Sharychenkov in the home net.
Earlier, Vityaz jumped to a 2-0 lead inside 13 minutes. Pavel Chernov got the opener, then Marek Hrivik opened his KHL account as Miro Aaltonen quarterbacked another Vityaz power play. Ak Bars responded quickly as Roman Abrosimov reduced the deficit and Vladimir Tkachyov tied it up just before the hooter with his first of the season.
When Fyodor Malykhin put Ak Bars in front on the power play midway through the second period, it felt as if normal service had been resumed after the underdog’s bright start. Vityaz, though, was not done. Alexander Semin opened his account for the Podolsk team just before the second intermission and Rendulic went on to win it for the visitor before Hrivik put his second of the game into an empty net.
Vityaz has a share of the early leadership in the Western Conference; Ak Bars has suffered two losses in three games as it makes a stuttering start to its title defense.
Barys, the last team to start its KHL campaign, delivered an opening night that was well worth the wait. There were goals from summer signings Andre Petersson and Patrice Cormier, while returning star Brandon Bochenski had an assist in his first outing for over a year.
For Neftekhimik, defeated in its opening game by Vityaz, there were few consolations. A late goal from Juuso Puustinen got Andrei Nazarov’s team on the scoreboard for the first time this season, but little else went right once Barys got in front in the second period.
Darren Dietz was instrumental in putting Barys in control. The Canadian defenseman got an assist as Cormier opened the scoring on the PP, then added a second of his own. Two more Barys power plays early in the third helped Roman Starchenko and Petersson extend the lead to 4-0, then Pavel Akolzin added a fifth. Puustinen’s effort ended his team’s long wait for a goal but Matthew Frattin had the final word when he added a sixth for Barys.
After a dramatic turnaround to defeat SKA on Monday, Torpedo did it again to see off Dinamo and make it two wins from two.
The Belarusians, still searching for a first win of the season, opened up a two-goal lead through summer signing Teemu Pulkinen and defenseman Kristian Khenkel. After firing blanks in Kazan two days earlier, this was much better from Gordie Dwyer’s team. But it couldn’t last.
Andrew Calof pulled one back for Torpedo in the 37th minute; two minutes later Yury Sergiyenko had the scores level. And five minutes of pain were completed for Dinamo early in the third. Quinton Howden took a hooking penalty, and nine seconds later Denis Barantsev potted the winner for Torpedo.
Spartak joins Western Conference rivals Jokerit and Vityaz on two wins after seeing off Admiral.
The key passage of play came either side of the 30-minute mark as the home team scored twice in 66 seconds to take control of the game. First came a power play goal from Robin Hanzl, the Czech’s first since moving from Neftekhimik. Then it was Yaroslav Dyblenko’s turn to score his first on his return to the club.
Vasily Streltsov pulled one back for Admiral, claiming his second in two games for his new club, but this time he was destined to finish on the losing side. Vyacheslav Leshchenko’s strike eight minutes from time sealed the points for Spartak.
Sochi went to overtime for the second game running, but enjoyed a happier outcome after grabbing victory over Red Star.
For much of this game, goalmouth action was scarce: a clearance off the Kunlun line by Ondrej Vitasek was the highlight of the first period; Dmitry Shikin’s big save from Rok Ticar was the best of the second. When Red Star went in front through Victor Bartley’s second of the season, the Chinese franchise seemed poised to take its first win of the campaign.