Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The big game of the day saw CSKA defeat Ak Bars thanks to two goals from Jiri Sekac, making only his second appearance for the Army Men since leaving Kazan. Avangard recorded its second win of the season with Cody Franson on the mark again in a 3-1 win at Jokerit. Shenzhen, China, staged its first ever KHL game and was treated to a thriller as Kunlun Red Star edged Salavat Yulaev in a shoot-out. There were also wins for Sibir and Admiral.

Red Star celebrates victory in Shenzhen

Kunlun Red Star 4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 SO (1-0, 2-1, 0-2, 0-0, 1-0)

Goals: 1-0 Cracknell (Brule, Maione 8:32 PP); 1-1 Kugryshev (Sergeyev, Soshnikov 24:29 PP); 2-1 Wolski (Brule 30:44); 3-1 Wolski (Brule, Cracknell 37:12 PP); 3-2 Hartikainen (Larsen 45:42); 3-3 Soshnikov (51:49); Brule (65:00 penalty shot)

Goalies: Smith – Metsola (Kareyev 65:00)

Kunlun Red Star made a winning start to the season as the KHL came to Shenzhen for the first time. Our Chinese franchise is playing its first six games in the fast-growing city in the south of China and attracted a decent crowd for its opening fixture against Salavat Yulaev.

Those fans, many of whom would be familiar with Women’s Hockey League newcomer KRS Vanke Rays, saw an entertaining game. Wojtek Wolski scored twice to take his career goal tally to 100 in the KHL, Salavat Yulaev recovered a two-goal deficit to force overtime and Gilbert Brule gave the host the verdict in a shoot-out.

Home debutant Adam Cracknell was the first to show, opening the scoring on a power play midway through the first period. The summer signing, who brings more than 200 games of NHL experience with him, got the redirect on Mathew Maione’s shot in the ninth minute. That was the only scoring of the opening frame, but in the second stanza Wolski scored twice after Dmitry Kugryshev briefly brought the visitor level. The Olympic bronze medallist rekindled his effective partnership with Brule, who claimed assists on both plays.

But Salavat Yulaev hit back in the third. Teemu Hartikainen scored on the wraparound to reduce the deficit; Nikita Soshnikov got his first for his new club to tie the game. Overtime saw both teams get a chance on the power play but neither side managed to find a winner. Then the shoot-out went to sudden death before home goalie Jeremy Smith denied Soshnikov and Brule beat Andrei Kareyev at the other end to secure the win for Red Star.

Sibir starts with victory

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Amur Khabarovsk 1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Goals: 0-1 Vl. Ushenin (13:52); 1-1 Kazakov (Sayustov 14:44); 2-1 Puustinen (49:06 PP)

Goalies: Sateri – Langhamer

Finnish forward Juuso Puustinen potted the game-winner on his KHL debut for Sibir. The former Neftekhimik man moved to Novosibirsk in the summer after generating 37 (20+17) points in Nizhnekamsk last year and wasted little time in making a positive impact for his new club.

Puustinen’s big moment came midway through the third period when he snapped a 1-1 tie. With Sibir on the power play, the Finn found space on the left hand side and advanced to the face-off spot before launching a wrister that flew into the top corner. Danil Romantsev put up a screen in front of Marek Langhamer to leave the Czech unsighted as the shot came in.

Earlier the teams traded first period goals. Vladislav Ushenin gave Amur the advantage. The goal was awarded after a long look at whether Ushenin was offside when he collected a long pass into the Sibir, but it took less than a minute for Maxim Kazakov to tie the scores.

Admiral pulls off a shock in Kazakhstan

Barys Nur-Sultan 1 Admiral Vladivostok 3 (0-0, 0-2, 1-1)

Goals: 0-1 Ljungh (Bakos, Almqvist 31:52 PP); 0-2 Almqvist (Ljungh 36:39 PP); 1-2 Knight (Helewka 50:55 PP); 1-3 V Streltsov (Lomako 59:05 empty net)

Goalies: Paquale – Olkinuora

Admiral produced the first shock result of the season with a win on the road at Barys. The Kazakh team is expected to be among the front-runners in the East this season, despite the loss of several experienced members of last year’s roster, while the Sailors were deemed likely to face choppy waters in the coming months. Today, though, Admiral’s power play plotted a course to victory as Barys was punished for a lack of discipline.

In the first period, Barys largely stayed out of the box and dominated the play without finding a way past Juho Olkinuora in the visitor’s net. But in the second the home team began to take penalty after penalty. By the midway stage, Admiral’s power play was beginning to click. First, Markus Ljungh opened the scoring with his first goal in the KHL. Within five minutes, fellow new arrival Adam Almqvist doubled the lead.

Then the Admiral PK showed its stuff, killing two minutes of three-on-five play to preserve that 2-0 lead until the second intermission. In the final frame, Barys found the net at last as two of the team’s new forwards combined. Adam Helewka got the assist, Korban Knight potted his first KHL goal and, inevitably in the context of the game, it happened on the power play. There were still 10 minutes left for the host to salvage something but Admiral held firm and sealed the win thanks to Vasily Streltsov’s empty net goal in the last minute.

Franson delivers second win for Avangard

Jokerit Helsinki 1 Avangard Omsk 3 (0-1, 0-0, 1-2)

Goals: 0-1 Potapov (Pokka, Stas 3:15); 0-2 Franson (Shirokov, Andrighetto 46:04); 1-2 Lehtonen (Jensen 56:42); 1-3 Dedunov (59:58 empty net)

Goalies: Niemi – Bobkov

Cody Franson kept up his scoring start to the season by potting the game-winner as Avangard travelled to Helsinki. After scoring twice in the Opening Cup win over CSKA, the Canadian defenseman got his third in two games early in the third period here and gave his team an unassailable two-goal lead.

Photo: 03.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Jokerit (Helsinki) - Avangard (Omsk)

In truth, there was an element of fortune about it. Franson shot from the blue line but Jokerit’s debutant goalie Antti Niemi was deceived when the puck looped off a defenseman and into the net. The goal was initially credited to Sergei Shirokov, who was putting pressure on two D-men in front of the home net, but replays showed the crucial touch came off a home player.

Jokerit’s season opener got off to the worst possible start when Alexei Potapov gave Avangard a fourth-minute lead. The home team had hopes of an equalizer seconds before the intermission when Viktor Loov’s shot prompted a mad scramble on Igor Bobkov’s crease, but a video review confirmed that the goalie’s sprawling efforts did enough to keep the puck out of the net. The second period was goalless, although both netminders were called upon to make some smart saves along the way.

In the final stanza, Franson’s effort put Avangard 2-0 up before Mikko Lehtonen got Jokerit’s first goal of the season. The 25-year-old defenseman joined the club in the summer from Sweden’s HV71 after helping Finland to World Championship gold in Bratislava back in May. Jokerit pushed hard for a tying goal – this was the first period where either side managed a decisive advantage in terms of shots or time on offense – but the outcome was settled in the last seconds when Pavel Dedunov scored into the empty net to make it 3-1 for Avangard. The Hawks, with two wins from two games, become the early leaders this season.

CSKA’s power play makes the difference

CSKA Moscow 3 Ak Bars Kazan 2 (0-1, 1-1, 2-0)

Goals: 0-1 Tkachyov (Ozhiganov, Fazylzyanov 8:48); 1-1 Sekac (Grigorenko, Kaprizov 38:49 PP); 1-2 Tkachyov (Azevedo, Khenkel 39:29); 2-2 Vey (Kaprizov, Grigorenko 49:57 PP); 3-2 Sekac (Nesterov, 58:56 PP)

Goalies: Johansson - Reideborn

This was always going to be the big game of the day. The defending champion, smarting from defeat in the Opening Cup, faced the most successful team of the KHL era. To add spice, Ak Bars was playing its first game under former CSKA head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov, while ex-Kazan forward Jiri Sekac lined up against his old team-mates for the first time.

Photo: 03.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

And the game lived up to that billing with the visitor leading twice and Sekac instrumental in CSKA’s recovery with two goals. The Czech’s contribution was matched at the other end by Vladimir Tkachyov, who got both the visitor’s goals.

Tkachyov opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a shot from the blue line and that advantage endured until late in the second period. Then we saw a quick pair of goals, with Sekac tying the scores on the power play before Tkachyov got his second of the game to restore Ak Bars’ lead just 40 seconds later.

In the third period, though, CSKA stepped up its game. Anxious to escape a second successive loss at the start of its title defense, Igor Nikitin’s team increased its dominance of the play and eventually got its rewards. The home power play came up trumps, with Linden Vey tying the game midway through the frame.

The winning goal came with barely a minute left on the clock. CSKA pressed forward, keeping Ak Bars penned in its own zone, and Nikita Nesterov thumped in a shot from the blue line. Sekac was looking to generate traffic in front of Adam Reideborn and got his reward when he managed to steer the puck into the net for the decisive marker against his former club. All three CSKA goals came on the power play, proving once again how important it will be to stay out of the box against the Army Men this season.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Admiral (Vladivostok) Admiral (Vladivostok)
Ak Bars (Kazan) Ak Bars (Kazan)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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