Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Two former SKA head coaches had big results in Sunday’s games. Oleg Znarok went back to Petersburg with his Spartak team and, for the second time this season, left with a 3-2 verdict. Ilya Vorobyov, now with Metallurg, saw his struggling team produce its best display of the season to defeat Avangard 3-0. Dustin Boyd returned from injury to score twice as Barys beat Vityaz in overtime, while Neftekhimik won in Riga to move into a playoff place.

Boyd makes a winning return from injury

Barys Nur-Sultan 3 Vityaz Moscow Region 2 OT (1-1, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

Vityaz has enjoyed unexpected success early in the season – and that attracted the attention of SKA. Two key players, forward Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi and goalie Alexander Samonov moved to St. Petersburg last week; today’s game in Kazakhstan brought a debut for incoming forward Alexei Byvaltsev while Pyotr Kochetkov was the reserve goalie.

However, it was an established Vityaz leader who was first to show: Alexander Semin needed a mere 38 seconds to open the scoring. The lead was short-lived, with Anton Sagadeyev tying the game minutes later. Barys went in front for the first time midway through the second period on a goal from Dustin Boyd.

That was Boyd’s first goal since returning from injury but it wasn’t enough to decide the game. Semin tied things up and took the action into overtime, but a penalty on visiting goalie Ilya Ezhov tipped the balance in the home team’s favor and Boyd struck again to celebrate victory in his first game since September 20.

Magnitka blanks Avangard

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 3 Avangard Omsk 0 (2-0, 0-0, 1-0)

Is Metallurg starting to emerge from its early-season crisis? Sunday’s impressive victory at home to Avangard suggests that there is hope in Magnitogorsk once again.

Photo: 20.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Avangard (Omsk)

One game cannot turn the campaign around, but a shut-out win that halted the Hawks’ four-game winning streak and denied last season’s Gagarin Cup finalist the chance to go top of the Eastern Conference points to a much-needed return to form for Ilya Vorobyov’s team.

An early penalty handed the initiative to the home team and Dennis Rasmussen responded by shooting Metallurg into a third-minute lead. Magnitka belied its recent unconvincing form with an impressive first-period performance and there could be no arguments that a second goal, scored by defenseman Viktor Antipin, was merited on the balance of play.

Avangard got some power play chances of its own in the second period but found the host in no mood to back down. Metallurg’s PK was impressive and when the teams were at equal strength the Steelmen bossed much of the game. A goal from Andrej Nestrasil midway through the final frame sealed the result and brought the Czech his first marker since joining the club. At the other end, Vasily Koshechkin secured his second shut-out of the season. Head coach Vorobyov later said he thought it was his team’s best performance so far.

Znarok’s Spartak defeats SKA again

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Spartak Moscow 3 (1-2, 0-1, 1-0)

For the second time this season, Oleg Znarok returned to St. Petersburg with his new team and left with a 3-2 victory. Today’s result even improved slightly on the previous encounter on October 7: this time, Spartak did not need overtime to secure the verdict.

Photo: 20.10.19. KHL Championship 2019-2020. SKA (St.Petersburg) - Spartak (Moscow)

Last time around, Martins Karsums got the overtime winner for Spartak. This time, the Latvian forward started the scoring in the 10th minute when he redirected a Maxim Goncharov effort. However, he might have seen his name on the scoresheet a couple of minutes earlier after intercepting the puck close to the blue line, beating Vladimir Tkachyov and shooting past Magnus Hellberg. A video review ruled him offside on that occasion, though.

As in the team’s previous meeting, Spartak opened a 2-0 lead in the first period as Anatoly Nikontsev got his first of the game, waiting at the back door to convert Patrik Hersley’s pass. And, just as in the previous game, SKA pulled a goal back in the opening frame when Yaroslav Dyblenko scored against his former club.

Now, though, the scripts diverged. Nikontsev scored again in the second period to restore that two-goal cushion for Spartak and the visitor preserved that lead during an evenly poised middle stanza. In the third, to nobody’s surprise, SKA went for all-out attack and outshot Spartak 17-3. However, Julius Hudacek was in inspired form and stopped everything that came his way until the 59th minute when Sergei Plotnikov reduced the arrears. That was too little, too late, though, and Spartak held on to take the verdict.

Neftekhimik climbs into top eight

Dinamo Riga 1 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 (0-1, 1-1, 0-0)

Neftekhimik moved into a playoff place in the Eastern Conference after securing its third successive victory. Over the course of those games, Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team has climbed from the foot of the table to eighth place.

Dinamo, meanwhile, was also seeking a third straight win as it looks to continue its recent improvement. The Latvians had won three of their last four but remained adrift at the foot of the Western Conference. Previously this season, Riga had gone down 0-4 in Nizhnekamsk.

The first period was evenly matched but a goal from Ildar Shiksatdarov 16 seconds before the intermission gave the visitor a vital advantage. It wasn’t long before Ryan Murphy added a second and the Canadian defenseman’s first in the KHL gave his team a measure of comfort.

It wasn’t over by any means. Dinamo hit back midway through the game with a goal from veteran forward Mikelis Redlihs but much of the middle stanza was dominated by the visitor. In the third session, Riga once again secured a greater share of possession and scoring chances but could not find a way past Konstantin Barulin to save the game.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
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