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Avangard’s Reid Boucher is already looking like one of the key imports of the season. The American forward has two goals in two games, and both have them are game-winners in tight verdicts for his team. Dinamo Minsk belatedly began its season with a thriller, edging Barys 5-4 in overtime, while Jokerit started with a 3-1 win at Dinamo Riga. Spartak suffered a second loss as Bill Peters continued his winning start for Avtomobilist, and Salavat Yulaev won again despite Severstal muting Ufa’s powerful first line. There were also wins for Torpedo and Lokomotiv.

Peters beats Znarok in low-scoring game

Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 Spartak Moscow 0 (0-0, 1-0, 0-0)

Bill Peters enjoyed his second victory as head coach of Avtomobilist, getting the better of Oleg Znarok’s Spartak in Yekaterinburg. For Spartak, it was a second successive loss following Thursday’s heavy defeat at Lokomotiv.

Photo: 05.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg) - Spartak (Moscow)

Znarok insisted his team’s problems were down to fitness; Peters saw his players win in Chelyabinsk without Brooks Macek, Geoff Platt and Anatoly Golyshev. Neither coach made sweeping changes to the roster.

In the early stages, Jakub Kovar was the busier of the goalies. However, it wasn’t long before Avtomobilist got to grips with the game in its home debut and Spartak reverted to a counter-attacking game.

After the intermission, the tempo picked up and the first goal of the game arrived in the 24th minute. Mikhail Mamkin fired in a point shot, Stepan Khripunov put up a screen and Nikita Bespalov was unable to save Spartak. Both teams continued to create chances, with Spartak finishing the middle frame strongly, but the score remained 1-0 to the host.

In the final frame, Peters sent out his team to shut down the game. And Avtomobilist did just that, limiting the opportunities for Spartak’s offense. The only serious danger came on the Red-and-White power play, and Kovar kept his goal intact to secure a tight victory that puts Avtomobilist among the early pacesetters in the East.

Lehtonen returns with a goal

Dinamo Riga 1 Jokerit Helsinki 3 (1-1, 0-1, 0-1)

After a week in which Jokerit made headlines for its refusal to travel to a game in Minsk, the Finnish team got onto the ice at last — and duly delivered a 3-1 victory in Riga. Mikko Lehtonen, one of last season’s stars, continued where he left off with the team’s first goal of the new campaign. There was also a debut goal Jordan Schroeder, following his move from Torpedo.

For Dinamo, this was a second home loss. On Thursday, the Latvians were defeated by three first-period goals from Barys; today Martins Dzierkals gave the host a 10th-minute lead. He was assisted by two new faces, Czech defenseman Ondrej Vitasek and Canadian blue liner Reece Scarlett.

If that lead had lasted until the intermission, maybe the game would have turned out differently. Instead, though, Lehtonen tied it up a minute before the break. The defenseman was a revelation last season in his rookie KHL campaign, and it is very much to Jokerit’s benefit that he has been loaned back from Toronto, at least until the NHL starts its pre-season camps. The Finns were rewarded for their first-period pressure, and went on to take the game.

The winning goal arrived midway through the second, with Schroeder opening his account for his new club. And, in truth, Jokerit’s control of the game was greater than the scoreline suggested; all the key stats were decisively in the Finns’ favor. But the game was still alive until the 59th minute, when Iiro Pakarinen added a third goal and extinguished Dinamo’s hopes.

Second win for Loko

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Amur Khabarovsk 0 (0-0, 1-0, 1-0)

Lokomotiv made it two wins from two this season after blanking Amur. The Tigers, meanwhile, are still seeking their first win of the season after more than 80 minutes without a goal.

In truth, Loko could have won this game by a bigger margin. The Railwaymen started at a high tempo, dominating the first period without finding a way past Evgeny Kiselyov in the Amur net. Eventually the breakthrough came in the second period, with Anton Lander turning Artur Kayumov’s shot into the net. Considering the shot count for the middle frame read 17-2 in Loko’s favor, one goal seemed a meager reward.

And it was a similar story in the third, with the home team continuing to dominate but managing just one more goal, a power play effort from Magnus Paajarvi Svensson. Young goalie Daniil Isayev completed the second shut-out of his short career.

First victory for Torpedo, first goals for Sibir

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 4 Sibir Novosibirsk 3 (3-1, 1-1, 0-1)

After suffering a 0-1 loss against Avangard, Sibir against went down by a single goal — but this was a very different game. Torpedo, defeated by Salavat Yulaev in its first game, had a far easier time scoring on Anton Krasotkin and chased the youngster from his net after just seven minutes. But Sibir’s offense found its range at last to ensure the outcome was in doubt until the final hooter.

Torpedo’s fast start saw Sergei Goncharuk and Brady Austin on target in those opening minutes. In between the two home goals, Dmitry Sayustov briefly tied the scores, but Krasotkin was replaced on 7:02. Incoming goalie Harri Sateri did not enjoy much better fortune, though, and Justin Kloos made it 3-1 at the first intermission.

But the home team was never able to rest on its lead. Eric O’Dell cut the deficit in the second period then, after Andy Miele restored a two-goal advantage, Nikita Korotkov scored with 10 to play. Sibir had a great chance to force overtime when it got a power play late on, but Torpedo stood firm to take the win.

Klinkhammer halts Barys fightback

Dinamo Minsk 5 Barys Nur-Sultan 4 OT (0-0, 4-1, 0-3, 1-0)

Dinamo belatedly began its season with a thrilling battle against Barys. The teams traded eight goals in regulation, with the host blowing a three-goal lead, but an overtime goal from Rob Klinkhammer settled it in the Belarusians’ favor.

Being made to wait for their first game of the season got Dinamo fired up and the home team dominated the first period, only to run into a Joni Ortio-shaped wall in the Barys net. However, when Curtis Valk took a double minor in the second, the floodgates opened. Brandon Kozun opened the scoring, Klinkhammer doubled the lead and even with Barys back to full strength, Artyom Demkov added a third goal in as many minutes. In the last minute of the period, the teams exchanged goals — Anton Sagadeyev for Barys, Yegor Sharangovich for Dinamo — and the game seemed to be heading Dinamo’s way.

Barys had other ideas. Roman Starchenko struck seconds after the restart and a power play goal from Nikita Mikhailis — two in two for the head coach’s son — set nerves jangling in Minsk Arena. Dinamo killed another penalty, but was caught by a tying goal from Darren Dietz with two minutes left to play.

Overtime did not take long, though. Klinkhammer needed just 31 seconds to get his second of the game and keep Minsk among the early leaders after its walkover win during the week.

Ufa’s depth leaves Severstal floundering

Severstal Cherepovets 1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4 (0-2, 0-1, 1-1)

Ufa’s first win of the season owed much to Magnus Granlund, with the Finnish forward collecting three points in Nizhny Novgorod. Today, though, the much-touted top line was silent and Tomi Lamsa’s roster showed off its depth of scoring power.

Two goals from Alexander Kadeikin led the way for the men in green as Severstal found this an altogether tougher examination than its opening victory over Amur. Kadeikin started and finished the scoring here, with Dmitry Kugryshev and Shakir Mukhamadullin also on target as Salavat Yulaev jumped to a 3-0 lead. For Mukhamadullin, an 18-year-old defenseman, this was a first KHL goal. The youngster broke into the team last season and has already seen his ice time increase sharply this time around.

Severstal got a goal back in the third through David Dumbadze. The 24-year-old forward was making his KHL debut, having forced his way into contention during pre-season. His first goal at this level was a memorable moment for him but had little impact on the game. Kadeikin added a fourth for Ufa soon after and that was the end of the contest.

Boucher grabs his second GWG

Avangard Omsk 2 Dynamo Moscow 1 (2-1, 0-0, 0-0)

Vladimir Krikunov became the only coach to take charge of a team in all 13 KHL seasons to date — but he was beaten by one of the newest players in the league. Reid Boucher, who got the only goal of Avangard’s opening success against Sibir, came up with another big marker to see the Hawks past Dynamo.

Photo: 05.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avangard (Omsk) - Dynamo (Moscow)

All the scoring came in the first period. Sergei Shumakov put Avangard in front early on, finding the net just four seconds after Dmitry Kagarlitsky emerged from the penalty box. For Dynamo, playing its first game of the season, it could hardly have been a worse start.

The Blue-and-Whites recovered, with Vladimir Bryukvin tying the game midway through the opening session. But a second penalty against the visitor presented Boucher with his chance and the American took it in style, firing a one-timer off a Sergei Tolchinsky feed to leave Ivan Bocharov motionless as the puck ripped past him.

That was the end of the scoring, although not the end of the talking points. Shumakov was denied a second goal when a video review determined that he had kicked the puck past Bocharov midway through the second period. Dynamo did what it could to change things in the third, but could not find a way past Emil Garipov in the home net. Avangard held on to record a second narrow victory in two games.

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