Sibir’s new head coach Alexander Andrievsky got a quick idea of the problems at the club – Torpedo inflicted a seventh successive loss on the Eastern Conference’s basement team. Elsewhere, the first game of the day brought a very special guest to Shanghai where the Great One, Wayne Gretzky himself was at Kunlun Red Star’s home opener against Dinamo Riga. Gretzky, an official ambassador for the Chinese team, took part in the ceremonial face-off but saw Red Star suffer a 2-4 reverse. Roman Starchenko extended his scoring streak to 12 games as Barys claimed a shoot-out win over Ak Bars, and Neftekhimik won 3-1 at Salavat Yulaev.
Kunlun Red Star began its home campaign with defeat at the hands of Dinamo Riga – and former players Matias Myttynen and Linus Videll contributed to their old club’s downfall to help the Latvians climb to third in the Western Conference.
Myttynen scored two power play goals, the second off a Videll feed, as Red Star paid the price for failing to capitalize on its chances in front of almost 4,000 fans in Shanghai. Emils Gegeris opened the scoring in the eighth minute before the Latvians added two goals in 46 seconds late in the first period. Myttynen made it 2-0, then a Mathew Maione point shot ricocheted around the crease before Andris Dzerins turned it home.
In the second period Red Star rallied. Cory Kane reduced the gap when he wriggled between Maione and Vitalijs Pavlovs after Bryadon Jaw’s shot was pushed into the corner. Johan Sundstrom was denied a debut goal when Timur Bilyalov denied him in a one-on-one. Riga’s Martins Dzierkals had a goal disallowed during the same power play, and once the teams were back at full strength Blake Parlett succeeded where Sundstrom had failed and won his duel with the visiting goalie.
Then came Myttynen again. Another power play, and Videll made a play down the left before depositing the puck on the Finn’s stick right in front of the net. Red Star battled hard in the third, and withdrew goalie Alexander Lazushin with three-and-a-half minutes left, but could not find a way back into the game.
Vladimir Yurzinov paid the price for Sibir’s poor start – on Saturday he became the first KHL head coach to lose his job this season. Replacement Alexander Andrievsky had a sell-out crowd behind him for his debut at home to Torpedo, but could not effect an immediate change in the team’s fortunes.
It wasn’t for the want of trying. Sibir made a bright start to the game, lifted by a flurry of penalties on Torpedo, only to give up the opening goal in bizarre fashion. Sibir was on its third power play of the game when the puck was dumped up the ice for home goalie Danny Taylor to field. Inexplicably, he ignored the assistance of team-mate Vladislav Naumov and looked to move up the ice himself, only to lose possession and gift Vladimir Galuzin the opening goal. Taylor was a relieved man when Nikita Mikhailov deflected Oleg Piganovich’s point shot past Stanislav Galimov to tie the scores on the same power play.
A power play goal early in the second period put Torpedo ahead through Mikhail Varnakov, but Sibir tied it up when Charles Bertrand surprised Galimov with a shot from wide on the right that went through a defenseman’s legs on its way to goal. Varnakov had the final say, though, potting the winner on another power play to make it seven successive losses for Sibir.
Finnish forward Joonas Nattinen led Neftekhimik to a good win in Ufa as Salavat Yulaev suffered its first regulation-time loss since its first game of the season.
The visitor had the better of the first period but had to wait until early in the second before Nattinen opened the scoring. He combined with his compatriots to fashion a shooting chance then unleashed a wrister from the top of the circle that went over Stanislav Gareyev’s pad. A power play goal from Dmitry Kugryshev tied the scores, but barely a minute later Pavel Kulikov atoned for a first-period miss by restoring his team’s lead when he slotted home from a right angle after Emil Garipov’s shot was padded away.
The goals keep flowing in Astana, where Barys has the KHL’s most potent offense thus far, but also the sixth leakiest defense. Another high-scoring game ensued, with Matt Frattin winning it for the host after a 3-3 tie.
The shoot-out success was a reward for persistence. Down after 71 seconds to Alexander Burmistrov’s opener, the home side later had to recover a 1-3 deficit to force the extras. Frattin got a helper as Curtis Valk made it 1-1 at the first intermission, but in the middle frame Ak Bars looked poised to take control. Jiri Sekac struck 26 seconds after the restart, with goalie Vladisav Podyapolsky claiming his second assist of the game. Then Justin Azevedo made it 3-1 in the 37th minute.
Barys responded by bringing Dominik Hrachovina off the bench for his KHL debut and the Czech goalie did the job, keeping Ak Bars from scoring again. At the other end, Roman Starchenko had a goal and an assist as the home team drew level. The forward is now on a 12-game scoring streak worth 10+6 points and covering the last six games of last season, plus all six this term.
Into the shoot-out, and Hrachovina’s dream debut threatened to turn into a nightmare. Beaten by Fyodor Malykhin and Danis Zaripov, he was replaced by Sergei Kudryavtsev. The starting goalie’s return ended Ak Bars’ scoring run, and Frattin eventually potted the winner to reward a team effort from the goaltending stable.