Avtomobilist made it 10 wins from 10 – but only after an epic struggle at home to Lokomotiv. Elsewhere, Metallurg edged Severstal 2-1, Spartak cruised to a 4-1 win at Slovan and Sochi pushed CSKA all the way to a shoot-out. The Baltic battle between Dinamo Riga and Jokerit also ended 1-1 in regulation, with Dinamo taking the verdict thanks to Linus Videll.
Avtomobilist continued its winning start to the season – but it took a mighty fightback from 1-4 down to make it 10 victories from 10 this season.
In recent times, Lokomotiv has been a particularly tough opponent for Avto: in the previous 10 encounters between the two, the Railwaymen had come out on top. Moreover, Dmitry Kvartalnov’s youthful roster had shown some encouraging form of its own this season, confounding those who felt that the team had gone backwards over the summer.
It was certainly a forward-looking squad in the early stages of this game. After falling behind to a Yegor Milovzorov goal, Lokomotiv replied with four goals in half an hour. Stepan Sannikov led the way, marking his birthday with two goals; Andrei Loktionov and Denis Alexeyev also found the net.
But Avtomobilist is a different proposition this season. That long winning run breeds an expectation that no game is lost, no situation irretrievable. And so, the third period brought a fightback. Francis Pare scored twice, the second of them following a huge hit from Denis Bodrov that sent Danil Yurtaikin crashing over the boards. That made it a one-goal game, Anatoly Golyshev tied it up. Into overtime, and Dan Sexton found the winner to add to his assist on Milovzorov’s distant opener. Unbeaten still, but Lokomotiv’s performance proved that the early-season pacesetter is by no means unbeatable.
Both teams turned to their reserve goalies for this game, but it was a misjudgement for Severstal’s Sergei Magarilov that cost his team.
Magarilov, starting ahead of experienced Czech international Dominik Furch for the first time this season, believed he had trapped a Evgeny Biryukov point shot against the ice. However, the puck was not in his glove and it squirmed into the path of Vladislav Kaletnik for the opening goal. At the other end, young Artyom Zagidulin kept his place ahead of Vasily Koshechkin. He was beaten once, when Carter Ashton got free on the slot to tie the scores, but finished with the W thanks to Andrei Chibisov’s second-period strike.
Spartak kept up its solid start to the season with a comfortable victory in Bratislava.
The Red-and-Whites always had a stronger offensive game and duly reaped the rewards when Yaroslav Kosov opened the scoring in the 16th minute. A power play goal from Ilya Zubov midway through the second period gave the visitor some breathing space before Mario Grman got Slovan on the scoreboard just before the intermission.
CSKA endured a frustrating evening against Sochi before Maxim Shalunov earned his team a shoot-out win.
The Army Men were limited to just 25 shots on Konstantin Barulin’s net in 65 minutes of play as the visitor from the Black Sea produced a disciplined display. The failure of the home offense to bite was reflected in the penalty count as CSKA racked up 43 minutes thanks largely to Mikhail Pashnin’s ejection for boarding in the third period.
Konstantin Okulov put the home side in front in the 15th minute, but CSKA was unable to kill off the game despite controlling the opening session. Sochi dug in and responded with a tying goal through Dmitry Arkhipov on the power play after Greg Scott was handed a 2+10 towards the end of the second period. That was the end of the scoring in regulation, but Shalunov and Anton Slepyshev both converted their attempts in the shoot-out to give the Army Men the verdict.
Linus Videll’s impressive start to the season continued as he got both goals for Dinamo Riga at home to Jokerit.
The Swede is clearly enjoying life in Latvia – these were his seventh and eighth goals in 10 games, and he’s added five assists to go with them. His first came late in the second period with the teams playing 4-on-4. Mathew Maione made the break, Videll found some space between the hash marks and collected the defenseman’s pass before drawing Janis Kalnins out of his crease and slotting the puck home from a tight angle.
Kalnins, who swapped Riga for Helsinki over the summer, found himself upstaged by home goalie Timur Bilyalov on his return. Bilyalov was always the busier of the two netminders and finished with 43 saves in only his second start of the season. Alex Grant beat him midway through the third period to force overtime, but Videll forced an error from Jokerit’s offense and raced up the ice to pot the game-winner in the three minute of overtime.