Andy Potts Andy Potts
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There were last-gasp winners in two of Sunday’s games. SKA’s Jori Lehtera struck late on to defeat Jokerit in St Petersburg while Andrei Kostitsyn gave Dinamo Minsk a much-needed success against another struggling team, Metallurg. Earlier in the day, Kunlun Red Star set a new attendance record and celebrated with victory over Traktor. Torpedo cruised to a 3-0 win over Avangard.

Another record crowd for Red Star

Kunlun Red Star 2 Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 (0-0, 0-1, 2-0)

Goals: 0-1 Konkov (Kosov, Glinkin 21:25 PP); 1-1 Wong (41:26); 2-1 DeFazio (Wong, Kane 44:54)

Goalies: Hrubec – Fedotov

For the second day running, Kunlun Red Star attracted a record attendance to its game. This time, 8,115 fans saw the Dragons take on Traktor at Shenzhen’s Universiade Sports Complex. And most of them went home happy after a third period fightback saw the home team take the points.

Goalie Simon Hrubec and forward Tyler Wong were key figures in this success. Hrubec first came to the attention of Russian fans at last season’s World Championship, where his brave performance for the Czech Republic in the bronze medal game almost denied Ilya Vorobyov’s team a medal in Bratislava. Today he was busy throughout as penalty trouble put Kunlun under pressure in the early stages. He was beaten just once, though, and even Sergei Konkov’s close-range finish came after an acrobatic leap to stop an Anton Glinkin shot.

Red Star thought it had tied the game shortly afterwards when Adam Cracknell forced the puck over the line in the thick of a melee in front of Ivan Fedotov’s net. In the process, though, the forward knocked the piping out of place; a long video review eventually whistled off the play.

The home team got more help – inadvertently – from the officials at the start of the third period. What should have been a routine pass behind the Traktor net bounced off the skate of referee Evgeny Romasko and dropped perfectly for Wong on the slot. With Fedotov slow to react to the danger, the 23-year-old pounced for his first KHL goal. Soon afterwards the Canadian-born forward was involved again as Red Star went in front. Wong brought the puck behind Fedotov’s goal, Cory Kane’s shot was blocked and Brandon DeFazio snaffled the rebound to win it for the home team.

Three wins on the spin for Torpedo

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Avangard Omsk 0 (1-0, 2-0, 0-0)

Goals: 1-0 Howden (Urakov, Varnakov 12:22); 2-0 Bocharov (Schroeder 26:28 PP); 3-0 Zhafyarov (Schroeder, Genoway 30:29)

Goalies: Lindbak (Tikhomirov 45:20-45:36) – Bobkov (Sudnitsin 27:23)

Torpedo followed up its victory over defending champion CSKA on Thursday with success against last season’s runner-up, Avangard. And, after two nervy home games that went to overtime, Sunday’s win against the Hawks was a more comfortable affair for David Nemirovsky’s team.

Photo: 15.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) - Avangard (Omsk)

The opening goal came from Quinton Howden midway through the first period. Kirill Urakov was among the assists on the play: the 21-year-old has four helpers already this season and is looking to establish himself as a consistent contributor as he kicks on from the World Junior bronze he won in 2017.

Avangard had the puck in the net early in the second period but a video review ruled out the goal. And Torpedo took advantage, with further tallies from Stanislav Bocharov and Damir Zhafyarov. Jordan Schroeder assisted on both, moving to 5 (2+3) points for the season after his arrival from the Rockford IceHogs in the summer. There was no further scoring in the third as Anders Lindbak stopped 26 shots to record his first KHL shut-out.

Lehtera’s late goal sinks Jokerit

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

Goals: 0-1 Kontiola (Jensen 20:27); 1-1 Koskiranta (Dergachyov, Rundblad 22:09); 2-1 Yakupov (Kuzmenko, Barabanov 30:52 PP); 2-2 Haapala (Norman, Kontiola 53:30 PP); 3-2 Lehtera (Byvaltsev, Rundblad 59:34)

Goalies: Melnichuk – Kalnins

There was late drama in Petersburg as SKA edged a tight victory over Jokerit in this latest battle of the Baltic. The game looked to be heading to overtime when Jori Lehtera, who made his Liiga debut with Jokerit back in 2006/06, took up a position in front of Janis Kalnins and managed to deflect a David Rundblad shot beyond the visiting goalie to snatch a late winner.

Photo: 15.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

There was still time for Marko Anttila to test Alexei Melnichuk once more at the other end, but SKA held on to take the verdict in a game that could have gone either way.

After the first period produced few clear chances for either team, Jokerit opened the scoring with the first play of the second. Petri Kontiola stopped SKA from getting the puck out of its end and exchanged passes with Niklas Jensen before putting the Finns in front. However, the lead was short-lived. Another of SKA’s Finnish contingent, Jarno Koskiranta, got the goal when he applied the redirect to another Rundblad piledriver.

Midway through the game, Nail Yakupov put SKA ahead for the first time with a thunderous slap-shot from the top of the circle but Jokerit tied it up again midway through the third when Henrik Haapala got his first goal of the season. The summer signing has been getting good reviews in Finland and he produced a clinical one-timer to convert Kontiola’s defense-splitting pass. However, it wasn’t enough to save the game for Jokerit when Lehtera popped up in the right place late in the game.

Kostitsyn adds to Metallurg’s angst

Dinamo Minsk 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 (0-0, 2-2, 1-0)

Goals: 0-1 Kozun (Antipin, Mozyakin 25:18 PP); 1-1 Kitarov (Kogalev, Kovyrshin 26:27); 2-1 Prince (Gotovets 27:11); 2-2 Kozun (O’Dell 33:04); 3-2 A Kostitsyn (Pare, Prince 59:27)

Goalies: Enroth – Koshechkin

Dinamo Minsk grabbed a much-needed win in dramatic fashion when Andrei Kostitsyn snapped a 2-2 tie with 33 seconds left to play against Metallurg.

Neither team had made a good start to the season. Dinamo had just one win so far after an unimpressive pre-season campaign. However, head coach Craig Woodcroft insisted he felt the team was improving fast. “We’re excited to finally get over that hump,” he told KHL TV after the game. “We’ve been playing very good hockey here this past week, it’s just been a question of putting all those pieces together. Tonight we did that and we got our reward.”

Metallurg, meanwhile, widely expected to be among the leaders in the East, also had just one victory and its slow start had seen the end of head coach Josef Jandac. His replacement, Ilya Vorobyov, suffered two losses in his first two games as Magnitka grappled with a rare loss of form.

And fragile confidence seemed to hamper the visitor in the second period. Brandon Kozun, back from suspension, put his team in front with a power play goal. But the lead was overturned in less than two minutes. Alexander Kitarov tied the scores before Shane Prince made it 2-1. Prince has now scored in his first two games for Dinamo, just as he did on arrival at Sibir last season. Low on confidence, Metallurg might have folded. Instead, though, Kozun got his second of the game to tie the scores at the midway point.

It seemed that would take us to overtime as the game went into the last minute locked at 2-2. But Francis Pare, a Gagarin Cup winner in Magnitogorsk, launched one more surge to the net and left a drop-off pass for Kostitsyn to smash home the puck from the top of the circle to put the home crowd into ecstasy.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
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Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
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