Sergei Tolchinsky put Metallurg to the sword as Avangard came out on top in this clash of two unbeaten Eastern Conference teams. Tolchinsky scored twice and had an assist as the Hawks laid down a marker for their rivals this season.
The visitor made the brighter start and got its rewards after six minutes when Tolchinsky opened the scoring. Like his team, the forward has tasted success in all four games this season. Avangard’s tactics were dictated, in part, by a short bench — just six defensemen and 19 skaters in total meant it was vital for Bob Hartley’s team to build a defensible lead before fatigue kicked in. And the advantage might have been greater at the first intermission had it not been for a fine save from Juho Olkinuora to deny Denis Zernov a power play goal.
Zernov did not have long to wait, though. Early in the second he found the net on another power play, with Tolchinsky getting the assist. Half a minute later, Zernov turned provider for Oliwer Kaski to make it 3-0 and end Olkinuora’s evening. That goal also delivered a first KHL point for prospect Semyon Chistyakov.
In the third period, Metallurg finally managed to get more control over the play. However, there was no way past Emil Garipov, who finished the game with 25 saves to post his second shut-out of the season. And Tolchinsky wrapped up a big win with a fourth goal late in the play as Avangard went clear at the top of the KHL table and found itself the last undefeated team this season.
Brooks Macek scored twice on his return to action, but still ended on the losing team as Avtomobilist’s unbeaten start came to an end at home to Torpedo.
Macek was unavailable at the start of the season; his arrival in Russia was delayed due to the current travel restrictions. Now ready to play, the German international wasted little time showing what he could do. Inside five minutes, he opened the scoring in this game.
In the second period, though, quick goals from Justin Kloos and Chris Wideman turned the game around and put Torpedo in front. The Motormen piled on the pressure and got a reward seconds before the end of the frame when Macek scored his second on the power play. After six goals in 40 minutes, both teams tightened their defenses for the rest of the game, and there was no further scoring. The second shoot-out of the season went to Torpedo after the experienced Mikhail Varnakov was the only player to convert his attempt. That cost Bill Peters his first loss as head coach of Avtomobilist while Torpedo got its second victory in four games.
SKA ended Lokomotiv’s winning start to the season with a 4-2 victory that moves Valery Bragin’s team level with CSKA at the top of the Western Conference.
The Army Men got a helping hand at the start as Lokomotiv took two early penalties and were punished on both occasions. First, Andrei Kuzmenko converted a fifth-minute chance to put the home team in front. Then, after Anton Lander was cited for slashing, SKA piled on the pressure and grabbed a second goal moments after the Swede returned to the game. Anton Burdasov was the scorer this time, firing home from the left circle.
Two early goals prompted Loko to swap goalies, with Ilya Konovalov coming into the game to replace Daniil Isayev. Konovalov brought some stability to the Lokomotiv rearguard, but was undone by a bad bounce in the second period. Lukas Bengtsson’s shot promised little danger, but it deflected off Atte Ohtamaa’s skate, wrong-footing the young goalie and helping SKA open a 3-0 lead.
Loko showed at Dynamo in its previous game that it isn’t afraid of fighting back from difficult positions. In pre-season, too, it recovered from a pair of heavy losses against SKA to bounce back and win the Sochi Hockey Open. This time, the Railwaymen found a way back into the game shortly after the midway point. Young Alexander Daryin’s feed sent Denis Alexeyev clean through on Magnus Hellberg in the home net and he finished the job to make it 1-3.
There was more drama to come. Late in the third, young Loko D-man Nikita Cherepanov fired in a point shot that deceived Hellberg as it came through traffic and suddenly SKA’s one-goal lead looked precarious. With more than 90 seconds left, Konovalov went back to the bench as Lokomotiv made one last push to tie the game and keep its unbeaten start going. Instead, SKA sealed the verdict with eight seconds left on the clock, Emil Galimov forcing the puck into an empty net after Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi’s persistence down the left created the chance.