Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Sibir got its first win of the season, edging a nine-goal thriller against Kunlun, and shared the celebrations with Alexander Ovechkin, visiting the club’s academy this weekend. Dynamo Moscow also opened its account for 2020/2021 after a comeback win in Kazakhstan. But Amur remains winless, beaten 1-5 at home by CSKA.

Winning start for teen goalie

Amur Khabarovsk 1 CSKA Moscow 5 (0-2, 0-1, 1-2)

It was a day of debuts. For Amur, summer signing Nail Yakupov, one of Russian hockey’s most enigmatic talents, made his first appearance of the season. For CSKA, 18-year-old goalie Vsevolod Skotnikov got his first game in the big league. The teenager has been on the fringes of the CSKA team in the past two seasons, and won a World U18 silver medal in 2019, but today was his first action in the KHL.

The youngster had the better day, collecting a win in his first outing and making 20 saves in a solid performance. Two of those were from Yakupov, whose 18 minutes on the ice could not change the game for his new employer.

Amur’s problems started early. In the second minute, Pavel Turbin took a penalty and Nikita Korostelyov converted the first power play of the game to give CSKA an early lead. Sergei Andronov doubled the lead inside the first five minutes and, even with 55 to play, it looked like damage limitation for the home team.

The Army Men’s dominance was not challenged, but the rate of scoring slowed. Konstantin Okulov added a third at the beginning of the middle stanza, with another youngster, Dmitry Samorukov, getting the assist. As the second period wore on, Amur offered more of an attacking threat, and the home team got some reward early in the third when Alexander Gorshkov scored on Skotnikov.

But there would be no grand revival. Further goals from Maxim Mamin and Maxim Shalunov took the game away from Amur and enabled the Army Men to march clear at the top of the Western Conference.

Sibir Novosibirsk 5 Kunlun Red Star 4 (0-0, 2-1, 3-3)

A clash between two teams chasing their first win of the season might not look like the most appetizing action on Saturday’s card — but it was the game of choice for Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin. The Great 8, back in his homeland after the end of the Capitals’ playoff run, was in Siberia to meet the rising stars of Sibir’s academy and took the chance to see his former Team Russia captain Alexei Kovalev in a new role behind the Kunlun bench.

Photo: 12.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

Goals have been hard to come by for both teams and during a scoreless opening frame it was clear that the forwards on both sides needed a confidence boost. But there was no lack of assurance from German Shaporev when he got his chance early in the second. Sergei Monakhov led the odd-man rush and served up a dish for the 18-year-old to smash home from the face-off dot. Ovi himself might have recognized some of the panache with which Shaporev scored his second goal in successive games and his first of two on the night; Red Star led in a game for the first time this season.

However, it didn’t last. Yefim Gurkin’s howitzer from the blue line tied the scores with five to play in the middle session, then Viktor Komarov gave Sibir the lead late in the frame.

With Red Star effectively playing three-line hockey once again due to its shortage of available players, recovering the game in the third was always going to be a big ask for a tiring team. The Dragons fought bravely, tying the game through Ivan Nikolishin and again thanks to Alexei Kruchinin. But Kunlun struggled to stay out of the box, giving Sibir the opportunity to get ahead again. Goals from Danil Romantsev and Vladimir Pervushin midway through the frame opened a two-goal lead for the first time in the game. That was enough — just — for Sibir to secure its first win of the season.

Dramatic win for Dynamo

Barys Nur-Sultan 4 Dynamo Moscow 5 OT (2-1, 2-1, 0-2, 0-1)

Dynamo was always chasing this game in regulation but rallied bravely to grab its first victory of the season. The Blue-and-Whites welcomed Teemu Pulkkinen and Oscar Lindberg into the team for the first time this season, but it was Vadim Shipachyov who played the biggest role in saving this game with two goals in the third.

Photo: 12.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Barys (Nur-Sultan) - Dynamo (Moscow)

Darren Dietz gave Barys an early lead, with Dynamo losing its time-out after an unsuccessful bench challenge. Dynamo had an answer to that, with Dmitrij Jaskin tying the scores after five minutes, but fell behind once more to a Curtis Valk effort. That saw Ivan Bocharov recalled to the bench inside 10 minutes, with the experienced Alexander Yeryomenko replacing him.

Pulkkinen marked his return with a goal midway through the second period to tie the scores once again, but at the other end things were not going so well. A defensive mix-up allowed Linus Videll to get to the net and beat Yeryomenko to make it 3-2. Then, late in the frame, Dietz got his second of the night on the power play to give Barys a two-goal lead for the first time in the game.

Dynamo cut that lead with eight minutes to play when Shipachyov spotted a weak spot in the Barys defense and grabbed his first goal of the season. There was more drama to come, with Joni Ortio making a big pad save to deny Lindberg a late tying goal as Dynamo threw everything into attack in search of a first point of the season. That was delivered in the last minute. Dietz took a penalty and, six seconds later, Shipachyov’s second of the game tied it up at 4-4 and forced overtime.

Dynamo had a 5-on-3 advantage for two full minutes in the extras but could not make the extra men pay. However, with time running and the teams back to equal strength, Daniil Tarasov produced the winner when he zinged a wrister past Ortio from the left-hand circle and confirmed a much-needed victory for the Muscovites.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Barys (Nur-Sultan) Barys (Nur-Sultan)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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