Andy Potts Andy Potts
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It was a day of first wins and first losses. SKA claimed an overtime win over Jokerit to end the Finns’ 100% record in game five of their campaign. Salavat Yulaev did something similar to Torpedo, posting a 4-3 verdict in regulation. If those two were frustrated at the end of their winning runs, there was much better news for Amur and Dinamo Minsk. Both clubs got their first victories of the season, overcoming Admiral and Spartak respectively. Avangard managed to buck the trend – just – with a shoot-out win over Ak Bars to keep pace with Avtomobilist at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Amur collects first win

Amur Khabarovsk 3 Admiral Vladivostok 1 (2-1, 1-0, 0-0)

Amur’s power play was the key as the Khabarovsk team celebrated its first victory of the season in its home opener against local rival Admiral.

Photo: 12.09.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Amur (Khabarovsk) - Admiral (Vladivostok)

This Far Eastern derby was decided by two power play goals in the first period as Amur jumped to a 2-0 lead. Igor Rudenkov converted the first opportunity of the game after Kirill Dyakov took a slashing minor in the sixth minute. Then it was double trouble for Admiral as the host got a 5-on-3 advantage and Tomas Zohorna made it 2-0 with less than 10 minutes played.

Sergei Konkov got a goal back for the Sailors but Alexander Gorshkov made it 3-1 early in the second period and that was how it stayed. The teams meet again on Friday, giving Admiral a quick chance to regain local bragging rights.

A comeback too far

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 (0-0, 3-0, 1-3)

Torpedo’s winning start to the season had come via a series of come-from-behind victories – but an attempt to pull off a fifth great escape of the season came up just short in Ufa. Down 0-3 and 1-4, Torpedo battled back to make it a one-goal game but could not force the extras in the 79 seconds remaining after Andrew Calof potted the 3-4 goal.

The visitor just about shaded a competitive first period, but after the intermission Salavat stepped up a gear. Vyacheslav Solodukhin scored twice – a boost for the forward after he managed just eight goals last season – and Dmitry Kugryshev added a third to put the host in control.

For many teams, 0-3 down at the second intermission would be the end of the story. Torpedo, though, has been a bit different this season. In adversity, David Nemirovsky’s men tend to produce their best form, and so it proved here. Yury Sergiyenko got a goal back, only to see in-form Anton Burdasov get his fifth goal in five games a minute later. Vladimir Galuzin reawakened Torpedo’s hopes and Calof cashed in on a late penalty to set up a nerve-jangling finale. This time, though, despite Torpedo’s best efforts, there was no way back. The visitor missed the chance to join Avtomobilist on top of the fledgling Eastern Conference table.

Barys Astana 4 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 5 OT (2-1, 2-1, 0-2, 0-1)

When Barys and Neftekhimik meet, goals tend to fly in. The Kazakhs had already handed out a 6-1 thrashing in Nizhnekamsk; here they were within 62 seconds of victory only to lose in overtime by the odd goal in nine. Along the way, Brandon Bochenski got his 400th KHL point, assisting on Curtis Valk’s first KHL goal, while Roman Starchenko’s double made it 10 games in a row where the forward has got among the points.

Those milestones, however, could not save Barys from defeat. Neftekhimik had a couple of landmarks of its own: Mikael Ruohomaa and Alexei Mikhnov got their first goals for the club before Joonas Nattinen scored late in the third period to tie the game at 4-4. The Finn’s second goal in the KHL took the game to overtime, where Adam Polasek potted the winner on the power play after Patrice Cormier shot the puck over the boards. For Polasek, too, it was a first goal for Neftekhimik.

Shoot-out thriller maintains Omsk’s winning run

Avangard Omsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 1 SO (1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Avangard’s match-up with Ak Bars pitted the defending champion against one of the in-form teams of the opening 10 days of the season – and the outcome was predictably tight. In the end, only a shoot-out separated the two after a 1-1 tie – and that, too, was a nerve-jangling affair.

Photo: 12.09.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019. Avangard (Omsk region) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

Avangard looked to have the edge after scoring its first two attempts while Ak Bars failed, but after five efforts apiece the scores were locked at 3-3 after Max Talbot and Denis Zernov were denied by Vladislav Podyapolsky after he came off the bench to replace Alexander Sharychenkov with Avangard 2-0 to the good. Jiri Sekac tied the sequence and took it to sudden death, but the Czech fired wide of Igor Bobkov’s net after Sergei Shirokov’s goal and that handed Avangard the win.

The shoot-out – tense and unpredictable – matched the progress of the game. The first period saw Avangard have more of the attacking play, but only after Ak Bars was first to carve out clear-cut chances. A shot against the post from the blue line, then a power play goal from Sekac – scoring at the second attempt of a Justin Azevedo feed – had the visitor rekindling happy memories of its previous visit to Balashikha on the way to winning the cup in 2010.

But the home team recovered and tied the game late in the opening frame. Alexei Yemelin, part of that Ak Bars team of 2010, picked up his first point since joining Avangard. His pass went point-to-point, Maxim Chudinov found the shooting lane and Sharychenkov was screened and unable to react in time.

Avangard thought it might have won it in the third period. A 5-on-3 advantage handed the hosts a great opportunity; unfortunately Denis Zernov took matters all too literally into his own hands. The home forward got the puck in Sharychenkov’s net but the video showed that he scored with his hand. Ak Bars held on and the game went to overtime.

In the extras, it was Avangard’s turn to hang on. A penalty on Ilya Mikheyev midway through the five-minute over time session saw the visitor dominate play with a 4-on-3 advantage. Two saves from Bobkov and three blocked shots kept the home goal intact and sent us to a shoot-out.

Hersley hands SKA an OT win

SKA St. Petersburg 4 Jokerit Helsinki 3 OT (1-1, 2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

SKA halted Jokerit’s winning start to the season thanks to an overtime goal from Patrik Hersley and a double from Nikolai Prokhorkin. The Finns came to Petersburg on the back of four victories – three at home, a fourth in Minsk – but went away with a solitary point after forcing a 3-3 tie in regulation.

Hersley settled an absorbing game with a power play goal after Jokerit was caught with too many men on the ice. SKA called a time out, won an attacking face-off and Hersley shot from the center point only to see his effort saved. Nikita Gusev fed Nail Yakupov, who fanned his initial shot but recovered to send the puck back to Hersley and at the second time of asking the Swede fired a deflected shot into the net.

Prokhorkin, meanwhile, continued his productive start to the season with two goals – taking his tally to five in four appearances. The 24-year-old, previously with CSKA and Salavat Yulaev, has had some ups and downs in his career, but the forward has started the current campaign impressively and added two fine goals tonight. He opened the scoring with a deft finish on Janis Kalnins, getting up close with the Jokerit goalie and tucking the puck just inside the post after a delightful ‘through-the-legs’ feed from Alexander Barabanov. His second of the game – the 3-2 goal – was a clinical finish after Hersley’s interception in center ice sent Prokhorkin clean through on Kalnins’ net.

In between, Jokerit got some joy on the power play. Pekka Jormakka cancelled out Prokhorkin’s first just six seconds after Vladislav Gavrikov was sent to the box. Then, after Artyom Zub restored SKA’s lead, Jokerit delivered another rapid response through Niklas Jensen, assisted by Jormakka.

Prokhorkin’s goals weren’t enoguh to win it in regulation. Jokerit tied the game at 3-3 in the 53rd minute after Alex Grant and Peter Regin combined to strip Nail Yakupov of the puck in the visitor’s zone. Sakari Manninen raced up the ice and fired home on the break away.

Dinamo gets off the mark

Dinamo Minsk 3 Spartak Moscow 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Dinamo snapped its losing run to open its account for the current season. The Belarusians took down Spartak in a tight encounter at Arena Minsk, edging to the win on Quinton Howden’s goal midway through the third period.

The early exchanges saw Dinamo under pressure: an early penalty on Evgeny Kovyrshin gave Spartak the chance to set the tempo at the start. But the home team held on, and once back in play Kovyrshin produced the opening goal in the sixth minute. Spartak levelled midway through the game when Maxim Trunyov scored, and might have gone in front late in the second period when a defensive error sent Anatoly Nikontsev clean through on Jhonas Enroth’s net. The Swedish goalie won that duel, though, and kept the scores tied.

In the third period, Dinamo was denied a second goal by a video review, but followed up with a legitimate score seconds later. Howden got the winner, putting away the rebound from Patrick Wiercioch’s point shot. Alexander Pavlovich finished it off with an empty-net goal.

Hrivik maintains impressive start

Vityaz Moscow Region 3 HC Sochi 1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Marek Hrivik, a summer signing for Vityaz, has already made an impact at the Moscow Region team. Today’s game-winning goal was his fourth in five games and, not for the first time, it came off an assist from Miro Aaltonen. The Finn seems to be settling in seamlessly on his return to Vityaz, while former Stockton Heat forward is forging a promising partnership with him.

Photo: 12.09.18. KHL Championship 2018-2019 Vityaz (Moscow Region) - HC Sochi (Sochi)

The goal, with five minutes left, came from a Vojtech Mozik feed that Aaltonen helped on to Hrivik at the far post. The Slovak marksman made no mistake from close range, and completed his day’s work with an assist on Alexei Makeyev’s empty-net tally to seal the win.

Early, Vityaz took a first-period lead when Pavel Chernov picked up the puck on the blue line and skated through to beat Konstantin Barulin in the Sochi net. The visitor responded in the second period with a power play goal from Kirill Kapustin.

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