Andy Potts Andy Potts
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The game of the day lived up to its billing, with Avangard blowing a 3-0 lead against SKA before edging a verdict against the run of play in the third. Ufa’s Finnish connection impressed again, with Hartikainen, Granlund and Manninen putting Torpedo to the sword. Malte Stromwall’s return to Sochi ended in frustration as the Swede saw his team blanked in regulation and beaten in a shoot-out. There were road wins for Avtomobilist, Dinamo Minsk and Traktor.

Hartikainen and Granlund lead the way for Ufa

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 6 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2 (1-0, 3-1, 2-1)

Salavat Yulaev’s Finnish firepower made all the difference in a comfortable home victory against Torpedo. Teemu Hartikainen and Markus Granlund scored two goals each and shared five assists between them, while Sakari Manninen had 1+1 in the game.

However, it took some time for the home team to turn its pressure into goals. Granlund opened the scoring late in the first period, but Torpedo responded with a power play goal from Damir Zhafyarov after the intermission.

After that, though, the home team took control. Alexander Kadeikin restored the lead, chasing down the puck, rushing the net and slotting home from a tight angle. Then Hartikainen converted a Granlund pass to make it 3-1 on the power play, before the two swapped roles for Granlund’s one-timer to make it 4-1 at the second intermission.

Another Torpedo power play saw Chris Wideman reduce the deficit in the third period, but the defenseman’s goal could not change the outcome of the game. Instead, Manninen added a fifth before Wideman was ejected from the game for slashing at Kadeikin and Hartikainen completed the scoring in the closing minutes.

Avto’s fast start leaves Neftekhimik on the skids

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 6 (0-4, 1-0, 2-2)

It didn’t take long for the visitor to take control of this game. Avto scored three unanswered goals inside 12 minutes to leave Neftekhimik with too much of a chase.

Nikita Tryamkin opened the scoring in the first minute, assisted by Geoff Platt on his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury. Then came Brooks Macek, on target once again in his second outing of the campaign. The German international moved to three goals in two games so far this term. Macek turned provider on the power play, helping Stanislav Bocharov add a third on 11:45 as Neftekhimik struggled to get a toe-hold in the game. Anatoly Golyshev’s first goal of the season made it 4-0 late in the frame.

Neftekhimik finally got on the scoreboard in the second period thanks to Artyom Golubovich. But there would be no fightback here. Instead, Avtomobilist controlled the game calmly and added a fifth goal thanks to Peter Holland’s power play effort in the third. The home team staged a late recovery, thanks to goals from Alexander Kucheryavenko and Ildar Shiksatdarov, but could not salvage anything from the game and Golyshev added his second of the night to seal Avto’s win.

High drama among the high flyers

Avangard Omsk 4 SKA St. Petersburg 3 (3-0, 0-3, 1-0)

A rousing game in Balashikha saw two teams in top form battle to the last second. Avangard saw a three-goal lead evaporate, went back in front with a short-handed effort, and withstood a storm of SKA pressure to seal the win.

Photo: 15.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Avangard (Omsk) - SKA (St.Petersburg)

Avangard took a sixth-minute lead when Denis Zernov applied the vital touch to Oliwer Kaski’s shot and took the puck away from Alexander Samonov. That ushered in a great first period for the home team, which went on to score two more. Kaski was involved with the second as well; the Finn’s shot was too hot for Samonov to handle and Jiri Sekac tucked away the rebound. Then, in the 16th minute, Zernov produced a fine individual effort to make it 3-0 and chased Samonov from the net.

That brought 18-year-old goalie Yaroslav Askarov to the crease for only his second KHL appearance and SKA performed with greater composure in the second period. The visitor got on the scoresheet early in that session when Joonas Kemppainen fed Igor Ozhiganov from behind the net and a finish from a tight angle was too good for Emil Garipov. That was the start of a big fightback for Valery Bragin’s team. Lukas Bengtsson made it 2-3, picking his spot with a wrist shot as Linden Vey generated traffic in front of Garipov. Then Anton Burdasov made it six goals in six games when he reacted fastest to the rebound after the Hawks’ goalie stopped Miro Aaltonen’s close-range effort.

That saw Burdasov establish a new KHL record: no player has previously scored in each of the first six games of any season. But despite the momentum swing in SKA’s favor, the next goal saw Avangard regain the lead. The Hawks’ PK closed down the Army Men on the blue line and launched a two-on-two breakaway. Alexei Potapov got the puck to the danger zone and Kirill Semyonov did the rest.

It was hardly the end of the story. SKA piled on the pressure on its next power play without finding a way past Garipov. Then, in the 53rd minute, the home goalie’s error behind his net presented Kirill Marchenko with a glorious chance to tie the game, but the youngster fluffed his lines and handed Avangard a reprieve. There was one last power play in the final seconds, SKA playing 6-on-4 as Zernov sat, but Avangard held on to clinch the tightest of victories.

Bison’s charge picks up pace

Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Dinamo Minsk 4 (0-1, 1-3, 1-0)

Last season’s struggles have inspired Dinamo Minsk to improve. Craig Woodcroft’s team has made a solid start to the current campaign and got its fourth win of the season here against a Vityaz time that is likely to be a direct rival for a playoff place.

Dinamo, looking to build on its overtime win at Spartak last time out, took an early lead thanks to Brandon Kozun. The Canadian was on target for the third game in a row, having scored twice in a 4-5 loss to Ak Bars and notched again in Moscow.

However, the Bison have been shaky on defense at times this season and Vityaz tied the game with a power play goal from Daniil Pylenkov early in the second period. Parity lasted just three minutes, though, before a Dinamo power play saw Kozun set up Ryan Spooner to make it 2-1. Young forward Alexei Protas added a third for the visitor, collecting his second marker of his rookie season. Then, with the last action of the middle frame, Yegor Sharangovich added a fourth for the visitor.

Vityaz found a way back into contention in the third period. Justin Danforth scored in a 5-on-3 power play and, before Minsk got back to full strength, Rob Klinkhammer sat for interference to give the host another two-man advantage. Vityaz could not capitalize again, though, nor could it profit from yet another 5-on-3 set up when Kozun and Maxim Sushko followed one another into the box.

Traktor edges narrow verdict, Spartak’s worries continue

Spartak Moscow 1 Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 (0-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Spartak’s uncertain start to the season continues with this loss at home to Traktor. The Red-and-Whites looked to have turned the corner with a fightback against Dynamo followed by an impressive victory at home to Salavat Yulaev. Subsequently, though, Oleg Znarok’s team lost to Dinamo Minsk before going down here to a Traktor team with just one win in its first four games.

Photo: 15.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Spartak (Moscow) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

The visitor looked lively in the early stages and was close to taking the lead when Lawrence Pilut dinged one off the piping. Moments later, though, Vitaly Kravtsov found the net. The youngster potted his third goal of this season, suggesting that he is rediscovering his game during this loan spell with his hometown team.

Early in the second, Traktor made it 2-0. Forward Tomas Hyka fired in the shot and defenseman Nick Bailen was on the slot to apply the finishing touch. The role reversal was clearly enough to disorient Spartak as Bailen got his first of the season.

The home team got a lifeline midway through the third period when Roman Lyubimov opened his account for the season on the power play. The forward got the key touch on a Yakov Rylov point shot to beat Ivan Fedotov. Then Traktor had to dig deep, killing a 3-on-5 situation in the closing stages of the game as Spartak scented a way to force overtime. There was more drama, with Nikita Bespalov leaving his net, Hika narrowly failing to put the game beyond reach, and Fedotov making one last, vital save 13 seconds from the end. But Spartak could not save the game and Traktor celebrated its second win of the season.

Olkinuora spoils Stromwall’s return

HC Sochi 0 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 SO (0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

Malte Stromwall made his return to Sochi, playing his first game of the current season after rejoining the team. Last season, the Swede led the way in scoring, with 39 (21+18) points and, after extensive summer negotiations, he agreed to return for the coming campaign.

Photo: 15.09.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. HC Sochi (Sochi) - Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

Stromwall joined the first line alongside compatriot Marcus Nilsson and youngster German Rubtsov. However, despite the accent on forwards, it was the two goalies who caught the eye after keeping their nets intact for a full 65 minutes. Sochi’s Joel Lassinantti made 29 saves, Metallurg’s Juho Olkinuora had 23 as both forward lines were left frustrated.

Stromwall didn’t even get a chance to take a penalty shot. Early in overtime he was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty for a high hit and played no further part in the action. Instead, Olkinuora kept up his fine display to deny Pavel Padakin and Kirill Petkov, while Nikolai Prokhorkin, Maxim Karpov and Juho Lammikko all found the net for Magnitka.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg) Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg)
Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk) Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
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