Andy Potts Andy Potts
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It was a day when much was decided on the power play. From the highlight of Thursday’s program, Vityaz’ hard-fought 2-1 win at CSKA, to the opening game in Khabarovsk, the work of teams with a man advantage made all the difference. Vityaz scored two power play goals from four attempts to beat the Army Men, Amur had a similar return in a 3-2 win over Red Star and the game in Kazakhstan saw all three goals come on a power play – real or delayed – as Barys defeated Torpedo. Metallurg had a big boost with a 5-3 win over Lokomotiv, helped by three points from Dennis Rasmussen, and Dinamo Minsk defeated Traktor by the same scoreline.

Power play lifts Amur to victory

Amur Khabarovsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 2 (2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Goals: 1-0 H Zohorna (Vasilyev, Faizullin 3:41); 2-0 Vl Ushenin (Kondratyev, Vy Ushenin 13:45 PP); 2-1 Wong (Foo, Brule 14:39); 2-2 Kane (Chelios, Bartley 36:07); 3-2 T. Zohorna (Jordan, Faizullin 45:13 PP)

Goalies: Alikin – Smith

Two power play goals helped Amur to a tight victory over Kunlun Red Star, despite the visitor clawing back a 0-2 deficit to tie the game.

The Tigers started well, with Hynek Zohorna opening the scoring in the fourth minute. The teams continued to exchange chances but it was Vladislav Ushenin who doubled the lead when he redirected a shot from his brother Vyacheslav to convert the first power play of the game.

Red Star responded at once: a no-look pass from Spencer Foo set up Tyler Wong for his fifth goal of the season, then Cory Kane fired home the tying marker late in the second period. However, another penalty gave Tomas Zohorna the chance to restore Amur’s advantage at the start of the third and that proved enough to win the game.

Starchenko extends his scoring streak

Barys Nur-Sultan 2 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 (1-1, 1-0, 0-0)

Goals: 1-0 Pakarinen (6:30 PP); 1-1 Schroeder (Shenfeld, Szczechura 16:10 PP); 2-1 Starchenko (27:49)

Goalies: Karlsson – Tikhomirov

Both teams missed a penalty shot as Barys recorded its fifth win in six games thanks to Roman Starchenko’s goal midway through the second period.

The Kazakhs were looking to bounce back from a heavy loss at home to Red Star and got off to a good start when Iiro Pakarinen opened the scoring on the power play in the seventh minute. He fired home a backhand shot to give Barys the lead. Torpedo hit back with a power play goal of its own through Jordan Schroeder, who found the unguarded corner of Henrik Karlsson’s net to send the teams into the first intermission with the scores tied.

Barys restored its lead on a delayed penalty as Starchenko extended his scoring streak to six games but there was more drama to come. First, Torpedo’s Mikhail Varnakov had a chance to tie the game with a penalty shot late in the middle frame, only for Karlsson to win that duel. Then, early in the third, Starchenko was denied a second goal when Andrei Tikhomirov denied his penalty attempt.

Rasmussen inspires much-needed win for Magnitka

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 3 (1-0, 1-1, 3-2)

Goals: 1-0 Rasmussen (Kulemin, Kozun 7:25 PP); 1-1 Lander (Kronwall, da Costa 31:07); 2-1 Rasmussen (Dronov, Rozhkov 33:05); 2-2 Averin (Osipov, Ilyenko 41:43); 3-2 Vereshchagin (Rasmussen 47:32 PP); 4-2 Parshin (Mozyakin, Galuzin 51:06); 4-3 Lander (58:36); 5-3 Kulemin (Kozun, Yakovlev 59:57 empty net)

Goalies: Koshechkin – Konovalov

The message from Magnitogorsk has been one of defiance. True, Metallurg went into this game rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference and groaning under the strain of a four-game losing run. But the club was relentlessly ‘on message’ in its media activities, with players and coaches alike insisting that everyone was working together and would find the answers that would see Ilya Vorobyov’s team climb the table and reach a more accustomed position sooner rather than later.

Photo: 03.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Thursday’s opponent, Lokomotiv, is another team struggling in the early weeks of the season. Like Metallurg, it parted company with its head coach and is further down the table than anyone would expect. For both teams, this looked like a game that could kickstart the campaign at last.

In the event, it turned out to be Dennis Rasmussen’s day. The Swedish forward scored twice for Metallurg and collected an assist to lead his team to a morale-boosting 5-3 win. He opened the scoring in the eighth minute, forcing the puck home from a tight angle amid a flurry of deflections and rebounds around Ilya Konovalov’s net.

Lokomotiv tied it up midway through the second period thanks to Anton Lander, but Rasmussen quickly restored the home lead when he fired home a Nikita Rozhkov feed following a slick breakaway. Another Loko leveller early in the third prompted Rasmussen’s next contribution, a pass for Ivan Vereshchagin to shoot home the 3-2 goal. Soon after, Denis Parshin gave Magnitka a two-goal cushion for the first time in the game and not even a second of the night from Anton Lander could save the Railwaymen.

Rookies on target in Dinamo victory

Dinamo Minsk 5 Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 (2-0, 2-1, 1-2)

Goals: 1-0 Kazyanin (4:40); 2-0 Stepanov (Yeryomenko 5:06); 2-1 Virtanen (Karlin 27:51); 3-1 Gragnani (28:33); 4-1 Pare (Demkov, Prince 37:37 PP); 4-2 Mansurov (Sergiyenko, Kosov 45:13); 4-3 Glinkin (Trunyov, Sholokhov 52:27)

Goalies: Enroth – Fedotov

Two rookies got their first KHL goals as Dinamo outlasted Traktor in an entertaining match-up in Minsk.

First, Ilya Kazyanin, 19, marked only his second appearance in the league with the opening goal of the game in the fifth minute. Kazyanin has dressed on five previous occasions this season but managed just one shift on the ice prior to this evening’s game. His goal was followed up by Andrei Stepanov 26 seconds later as Dinamo got off to a great start.

The home team continued to impress in the second period, extending the lead to 4-1. Jesse Virtanen got Traktor on the scoreboard, but Marc-Andre Gragnani and ex-Chelyabinsk forward Francis Pare kept the Bison in control of the game.

However, another rookie goalscorer brought the game back to life early in the third. Demid Mansurov, also 19, made his KHL debut for Traktor and his effort kickstarted a revival for the visitor in the final session. Anton Glinkin made it a one-goal game when he scored off an assist from another youngster, Marsel Sholokhov, but the fightback fell short when Shane Prince scored into an empty net late on. A second successive win for Dinamo moves Craig Woodcroft’s team to sixth in the Western Conference.

Vityaz returns to the summit

CSKA Moscow 1 Vityaz Moscow Region 2 (1-0, 0-2, 0-0)

Goals: 1-0 Sekac (Vey, Kiselevich 10:44); 1-1 Jormakka (Makeyev, Aaltonen 22:43 PP); 1-2 Aaltonen (Lajunen, Chernov 36:09)

Goalies: Johansson – Samonov

Vityaz showed heroism in defense and a lethally efficient power play to upset defending champion CSKA and return to the top of the KHL table in Thursday’s big game in Moscow.

Photo: 03.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. CSKA (Moscow) - Vityaz (Moscow Region)

The two high-flyers have built much of their early success on miserly defense; ahead of the game, both were tied on a league lowest 17 goals allowed. But there was a contrast in how they’d achieved that, with CSKA relying on overwhelming offensive power to pin opponents at the other end of the ice while Vityaz rode some superb goaltending from Alexander Samonov and resilient work from the whole team in front of him and his colleague Ilya Ezhov.

True to form, then, CSKA spent the first period seeking to demonstrate its credentials as defending champion. The Army Men dominated much of the play, forcing Samonov into several great saves, but could only score once. That came midway through the frame when Jiri Sekac found the top shelf after a spell of sustained pressure that began with an impressive display on the first power play of the night.

Vityaz had shown little up to that point but put the puck in Lars Johansson’s net almost immediately. The effort did not count, though. Alexei Makeyev used his skate to convert a feed from Pekka Jormakka and the goal was whistled off. CSKA continued to dominate and it took a fine stick save from Samonov to deny Kirill Kaprizov a second goal for CSKA.

However, this Vityaz team is among the front-runners on merit. Resilience in the first period, when it was outshot 16-3, was followed by clinical finishing in the second as the power play showed what it could do. The visitor had two chances with an extra man and scored both times to turn the game around. First, Jormakka was in place at the far post to tap home a Miro Aaltonen feed as Mikhail Kravets’ team showed how it could execute the power play moves sketched out in the head coaches playbook. Then, late in the frame, Aaltonen got his third goal of the season with a mighty one-timer off a Pavel Chernov feed to stun the home crowd and give Vityaz the lead in the game and – potentially – on the championship table.

CSKA started the third on the power play and Samonov was called upon early in the session to deny Sekac a second goal after a point shot pinballed around the paintwork. The goalie made another huge save to stop Konstantin Okulov after Sekac circled behind the net to create the chance for his colleague. Within a minute, Samonov was at it again to deny Anton Slepyshev with his pads as the Army Men hammered on the door only to find that the visiting goalie was repeatedly saying ‘no’.

A Vityaz power play relieved some of the pressure, but it was telling that this time the visitor struggled to create a dangerous moment for Johansson to deal with. The closing stages brought ever more desperate attempts from CSKA to save the game; the clock was playing for Vityaz but a penalty on Evgeny Artyukhin handed the Army Men one last big chance. Kaprizov finally got the puck past Samonov, only for Alexander Yevseyenkov to scoop it off the line then, with Johansson back to the bench, Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov fired against the outside of the empty net.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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