Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The table-topping showdown between Vityaz and Avtomobilist produced an absorbing game worthy of its billing. For 60 minutes the teams traded opportunities but failed to find a way past the two goalies. In overtime, though Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi broke the deadlock to send Vityaz clear at the top after a club record eighth successive victory. Elsewhere, there was joy for Amur as its losing streak ended, Torpedo faced down a Minsk fightback to win in overtime and Spartak blew a 2-0 lead to lose at home to Salavat Yulaev.

Vasilyev ends Amur’s losing run

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

Goals: 1-0 Vy Ushenin (Lazarev, Vl Ushenin 7:54); 2-0 Gorshkov (Lazarev, Kamalov 25:03); 2-1 Ljungh (Almqvist, Lalonde 46:08 PP); 2-2 Glazachev (47:57); 3-2 Vasilyev (59:03 PP)

Goalies: Langhamer (Alikin 45:02-46:08) – Krasotkin

Amur recorded its first victory of the season at the 10th attempt – but needed a last-minute goal to edge past Far East rival Admiral.

Photo: 24.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Amur (Khabarovsk) - Admiral (Vladivostok)

Alexander Gulyavtsev’s team had suffered a string of one-goal losses this season but, back on home ice and with local pride to play for, the Tigers made a determined start. Vyacheslav Ushenin opened the scoring in the eighth minute and Alexander Gorshkov doubled the lead early in the second period.

However, few of Amur’s games have gone smoothly this season and there was far more drama to come in the final session. Admiral got a power play and Amur goalie Marek Langhamer left the ice to be replaced by Evgeny Alikin. The understudy played little over a minute, made one save, then was beaten by Markus Ljungh to put the game back in the balance. Langhamer returned to the crease but almost immediately Konstantin Glazachev scored on the Czech and the scores were tied.

This time, though, there was a happy ending for Amur. The home team gained a 5-on-3 advantage late in the game and Valery Vasilyev took advantage when he stuffed the puck home after Igor Rudenkov kicked it to the near post. And, with Admiral still a man down for the rest of the game, the Tigers held on to claim that first win.

Minsk fightback falls short

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 4 Dinamo Minsk 3 OT (1-1, 2-0, 0-2, 1-0)

Goals: 0-1 Pulkkinen (Kostitsyn, Prince 14:25 PP); 1-1 Ilyin (Urakov 14:48 SH); 2-1 Varnakov (27:28); 3-1 Schroeder (Alyayev, Zhafyarov 30:36); 3-2 Kovyrshin (Kostitsyn 46:53); 3-3 Pare (Gragnani, Pulkkinen 48:03 PP); 4-3 Shenfeld (Tikhomirov, Genoway 61:06)

Goalies: Tikhomirov – Enroth

A third-period revival from Dinamo Minsk threatened to deny Torpedo of victory, but an overtime winner from Anton Shenfeld got the home team over the line.

The first big incident came in the first period when Quinton Howden, up against his former club, was ejected from the game for boarding against Vladislav Yeryomenko. Teemu Pulkkinen scored on the power play but Daniil Ilyin responded with a short-handed goal before the major tariff expired. In the second stanza, Torpedo took control of the game. Mikhail Varnakov got the host in front for the first time and Jordan Schroeder extended that lead.

But the real drama came in the third period. Torpedo had a great chance to extend its lead when a hooking call against Dmitry Znakharenko gave the host a penalty shot. However, Damir Zhafyarov was denied by the glove of Jhonas Enroth and Dinamo believed it was still in the game. Soon after, that belief was nurtured by a goal from Evgeny Kovyrshin and barely a minute later, with Dinamo now on the power play, Francis Pare tied the game at 3-3.

The fightback earned Minsk a point as the game went into overtime but the Belarusians were unable to finish the job in the extras. Instead, Anton Shenfeld got his first goal of the season to win it for Torpedo. It was a play that typifies the drama of the 3-on-3 format: Pare went close at the other end, Andrei Tikhomirov got his stick to the puck to clear the danger and Chay Genoway released Shenfeld for a rendezvous with Enroth which ended with the puck in the net.

Vityaz wins the summit showdown

Vityaz Moscow Region 1 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 OT (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Goal: 1-0 Shvets-Rogovoi (Semin 62:05 PP)

Goalies: Samonov – Kovar

Seldom has a game at Vityaz enjoyed a build-up like this one. Sunday’s win over SKA put the Podolsk team on top of the KHL table; a further success against Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist would put daylight between Mikhail Kravets’ team and its closest rivals. Moreover, a new club record of eight consecutive victories was within reach; that SKA game had made it seven in a row.

Photo: 24.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Vityaz (Moscow Region) - Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg)

For Avtomobilist, meanwhile, this was a chance to prove that the defeat against Spartak last time out was merely a blip. For the second season running, the Motormen have made a fast start: last time they finished atop the conference but flattered to deceive in the playoffs. That’s why the club wanted to acquire the experience of local hero Pavel Datsyuk; after recovering from injury, he made his debut this evening.

Not surprisingly, then there was a big crowd for the game – and most of them went home happy after a hard-fought duel was settled in overtime by Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi’s goal. Vityaz had to wait until the extras to get its first power play chance of the night but, once it came, the home team needed just 20 seconds to convert. Captain Alexander Semin, so influential in his team’s rise this season, quarterbacked the play; Shvets-Rogovoi, an exciting talent who could blossom in a newly-competitive Vityaz line-up, took the pass on the doorstep and produced an instinctive top shelf finish that left Jakub Kovar grasping at thin air.

For Avtomobilist, the overriding sensation was one of frustration. The visitor ran into a goalie in inspired form as Alexander Samonov made 43 saves in 62 minutes of play. The home defense dug in, blocking 16 shots. Even the officiating went in favor of the host. Early in the second period, Avto had the puck in the net but a coach’s challenge established that Vyacheslav Litovchenko steered a Brooks Macek feed home with his skate.

Vityaz had its chances too, with Ivan Larichev going close at the end of the second stanza when released by Miro Aaltonen and Kovar having to be alert to deny the Finn early in the third. But for Vityaz fans, this was a day when the details mattered little. The final score was all that counted and the victory means Podolsk is out in front in Russian hockey.

Big fightback from Ufa

Spartak Moscow 2 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 (0-0, 2-1, 0-3)

Goals: 1-0 Hanzl (Rylov, Fyodorov 23:07 PP); 2-0 Kulik (Nikontsev, Kokarev 25:03); 2-1 Soshnikov (Hartikainen, Omark 37:34 PP); 2-2 Omark (Larsen, Hartikainen 43:32); 2-3 Larsen (Baranov, Manninen 48:54); 2-4 Zharkov (58:46 empty net)

Goalies: Khomchenko – Metsola

Salavat Yulaev produced a rousing fightback to take the points in Moscow despite falling 2-0 down.

Photo: 24.09.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Spartak (Moscow) - Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)

Spartak seemed to be in control of the game when second-period goals from Robin Hanzl and Evgeny Kulik opened a lead, but the visitor battled back. Nikita Soshnikov scored on the power play to reduce the defict and Linus Omark tied the scores early in the third.

Then came a moment that young goalie Pavel Khomchenko would rather forget. There was little danger as Philip Larsen moved down the right-hand channel and fired in a shot to the near post. Khomchenko, though, misjudged the angles and allowed the puck to squeeze past him into the net. A late empty-net goal put a ribbon on the scoreline for Ufa.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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