Andy Potts Andy Potts
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It was a good day for the big names in the Eastern Conference. Ak Bars won the headline bout, claiming a 2-1 verdict over SKA with goals from the two Galimovs, Emil and Artyom. Avangard was the most eye-catching performer on the undercard, scoring seven without reply at Dinamo Riga as Alexander Salak endured an unhappy debut with the league’s bottom club. The other three games all ended in 2-1 away wins: Jokerit beat Neftekhimik, Sibir overcame Admiral and Severstal took a shoot-out success at Dynamo Moscow.

Admiral Vladivostok 1 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (0-1, 1-0, 0-1)

Goals: 0-1 Puustinen (Peltola, Ruohomaa 4:54); 1-1 Vikharev (Lisin, Kozlovsky 21:00); 1-2 Puustinen (58:59)

Goalies: Krasotkin – Krasikov

Sibir got revenge for its last-gasp loss in Vladivostok by seeing out Wednesday’s game and claiming the verdict.

It was a success made in Finland: all of the visitor’s points were scored by its Finnish imports. Juuso Puustinen scored both the goals, taking his tally for the season to six, and there were assists for Jukka Peltola and Mikael Ruohomaa on the first. In between, Denis Vikharev was on the scoresheet for Admiral. The home team, however, struggled to get enough shots at Alexei Krasikov’s net as it slipped to defeat.

Two Galimovs, two goals, two points

Ak Bars Kazan 2 SKA St. Petersburg 1 (0-0, 2-0, 0-1)

Goals: 1-0 A Galimov (Galiyev, Zaripov 25:56); 2-0 E Galimov (Tkachyov 28:27); 2-1 Byvaltsev (Plotnikov, Tkachyov 57:40)

Goalies: Reideborn – Melnichuk

A fourth successive win for Ak Bars keeps the Kazan team out in front in the Eastern Conference, one point clear of Kharlamov Division rival Avtomobilist. But it was a hard-fought victory over SKA that took it there in the headline clash on Wednesday’s card.

Photo: 02.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Ak Bars (Kazan) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

The first period was evenly-matched as the two teams tested each other with some high tempo play. There were no goals, but it was never dull to watch. Ak Bars got ahead in the 26th minute after an uncharacteristic stumble from SKA defenseman Roman Rukavishnikov. He fell behind his own net, enabled Ak Bars to regain possession and, seconds later, saw Artyom Galimov standing all alone in the slot to convert Danis Zaripov’s pass from the boards.

SKA almost found an immediate response when Sergei Plotnikov got into a great position, but Adam Reideborn closed the door on the visiting captain and moments later the other Galimov, Emil, doubled the lead. Kristian Khenkel’s point shot looped into the danger zone, Galimov (no relation to Artyom) took a swing at it, golf-style, and after a scramble on the crease the puck broke kindly for the forward to force it home at the second attempt.

It was a frantic few minutes of action entirely in keeping with an absorbing game between two of the KHL’s big hitters. Both teams created chances throughout, with Reideborn in particular having an impressive time of it in goal as the visitor had rather more time on the attack over the course of the 60 minutes.

That momentum intensified in the third period as SKA battled to get back into the game, but Ak Bars held out until the closing moments when Alexei Byvaltsev got on the end of a Vladimir Tkachyov pass to the back door and halved the deficit. The goal came in a spell of 6-on-4 play as Alexei Kudashov tried everything to salvage something, but the Army Men ran out of time before they could grab a tying goal.

Steady progress continues for Jokerit

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 1 Jokerit Helsinki 2 (0-0, 0-0, 1-2)

Goals: 0-1 Ikonen (Norman 46:35); 1-1 Bryntsev (Kulikov, Chernikov 51:46); 1-2 Norman (Kivisto, Ikonen 57:47)

Goalies: Sharychenkov – Kalnins

Jokerit continues to climb the table and Wednesday’s win in Nizhnekamsk was the Finns’ fourth in five games. After a sluggish start to the campaign, Lauri Marjamaki’s team looks to be easing into form on the back of successes against Lokomotiv, Avtomobilist, Dynamo and now Neftekhimik. Along the way, the team has started to find its goal touch.

True, Henri Ikonen’s goal won’t be winning any beauty contests after he stuffed the puck over the line following Alexander Sharychenkov’s failure to hold a John Norman shot. But it broke the deadlock in the game and set Jokerit on the way to a third successive victory.

It wasn’t a seamless journey: Alexander Bryntsev tied the game in the 52nd minute to give the home team hope. However, late in the third period, Ikonen and Norman combined again. This time the scorer turned provider, popping up the feed from behind the net to allow Norman to force the puck into the net from the doorstep. The home bench issued a coach’s challenge, alleging goalie interference, but the review upheld the on-ice decision and, with barely two minutes to play, the Finns had the win.

Neftekhimik, meanwhile, missed the chance to return to the playoff places in the East. Its current run is just two wins in seven, cause for concern for head coach Vyacheslav Butsayev.

Trubachyov keeps up Severstal’s streak

Dynamo Moscow 1 Severstal Cherepovets 2 SO (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Goals: 0-1 Khlystov (21:45); 1-1 Polygalov (Lyamin, Zaitsev 51:10); 1-2 Trubachyov (65:00 penalty shot)

Goalies: Bocharov – Podyapolsky

Severstal recorded a fourth successive victory after claiming a shoot-out verdict at Dynamo. The Muscovites went to overtime for the second game in a row but could not escape a third straight defeat.

Photo: 02.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Dynamo (Moscow) - Severstal (Cherepovets)

Yury Trubachyov got the only goal of the shoot-out, at the 16th attempt, to separate these teams at last.

After a goalless first period, Severstal went ahead early in the second through Nikita Khlystov. The defenseman fired in from the point through traffic, but there was a review to establish whether Yegor Morozov got a touch with a high stick as the shot came in. The video determined that the puck was not disturbed as Morozov grappled with Yegor Zaitsev and the goal stood.

But it wasn’t enough to win the game. Dynamo tied it up midway through the third thanks to experienced Igor Polygalov. The former Traktor and Neftekhimik man got his second of the season when he redirected a Zaitsev shot beyond Vladislav Podyapolsky.

Nightmare start for Salak

Dinamo Riga 0 Avangard Omsk 7 (0-2, 0-3, 0-2)

Goals: 0-1 Chudinov (Andrighetto, Semyonov 12:11); 0-2 Andrighetto (Beck, Voynov 19:22 PP); 0-3 Shumakov (Beck, Klinkhammer 22:26); 0-4 Andrighetto (Voynov, Klinkhammer 24:57 PP); 0-5 Shcherback (Voynov 36:32); 0-6 Shumakov (Beck 53:26 PP); 0-7 Semyonov (Shcherbak 53:58 PP)

Goalies: Salak – Bobkov

Alexander Salak made his debut for Dinamo Riga but the experienced Czech suffered a miserable start to his career in Latvia, ending on the wrong end of a seven-goal drubbing. The new arrival had been without a club since leaving Lokomotiv in the summer and he found himself pitched into action against an Avangard team with an impressive offense starting to find its form. As a result, the 32-year-old stayed in for the full game, but ended allowing seven goals from 33 shots.

Photo: 02.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Dinamo (Riga) - Avangard (Omsk)

The visitor, meanwhile, saw some eye-catching performances from its forwards. Taylor Beck and Slava Voynov both had a hat-trick of assists, Sven Andrighetto and Sergei Shumakov both scored two goals and there was a first goal of the season for Nikita Shcherbak in his most assured performance since returning to Russia in the summer. The 23-year-old was the architect of his first KHL goal, producing a sublime no-look pass to set Voynov on the charge then moving to the back door to convert the defenseman’s return pass for the 5-0 play. He also had a helper as Kirill Semyonov completed the rout with the second of two power play goals in the 54th minute.

The result keeps Avangard on top of the Chernyshev Division while Bob Hartley’s team moves onto 39 goals from 12 games, the third most prolific in the KHL. For Dinamo, though, it’s a very different story. With 47 goals allowed, the Latvians have by some margin the most porous defense in the competition. Moreover, Girts Ankipans’ team has not scored in its last three games and has managed just 16 all season – another unwanted record in this year’s tournament.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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