Danny Kristo scored twice on his debut for Red Star, but the Dragons could not find a first win of the season. Kunlun played its first game at the club’s new, temporary home in Mytishchi and unveiled a host a new signings. Kristo slotted into an all-new front line alongside captain Casey Wellman and returning former NHLer Hunter Shinkaruk. Fellow forwards Ethan Werek and David Bondra returned to the team, while Alex Riche made his debut more than a year after joining the club. Simon Hrubec returned to goaltending duties for the Dragons, with Andrej Sustr, Jake Chelios and Sam Lofquist all coming back to the club. Behind the bench, Igor Ulanov stood in for head coach Alexei Kovalev, missing due to illness.
Kristo made an immediate impact. The former Dinamo Riga man, most recently playing Switzerland, opened the scoring with a power play goal in the third minute. But Avtomobilist recently scored seven on Red Star, and even though this was a new-look opponent, the visitor soon got ahead. Anatoly Golyshev tied it up on the power play then Pavel Datsyuk gave the Motormen the lead late in the frame. Golyshev became the first man to score 100 goals for Avto in the KHL, and made it 101 with another power play effort early in the second.
Kristo’s second of the game kept Red Star in contention, but when Denis Bodrov extended the lead at the start of the third, it felt like too much for the home team to do. Another power play goal saw Geoff Platt make it 5-2 — an improvement on 0-7, but still some way from a first win of the season for the Dragons.
This was supposed to be a Green Derby where new names wrote themselves into the history of this epic rivalry. But instead of Nigel Dawes or Markus Granlund making a game-winning contribution, it was the veteran Danis Zaripov who made the difference as Kazan and Ufa faced off for the first time this season.
Both teams had made bright starts, with just one loss each so far. And while both teams had notable scalps under their belts already, this was a real test of their credentials. In the end, it was a test that Ak Bars passed impressively, while Salavat Yulaev may have a little way to go before it can claim to be a genuine hot shot in the East this season.
Early on, though, the visitor made the running. Teemu Hartikainen’s eight-minute goal opened the scoring as Ufa’s Finnish combination clicked on the power play. But when Sakari Manninen sat for tripping, Dawes tied it up. After that, Ak Bars never looked back.
Zaripov made it 2-1 at the start of the second period, claiming his team’s 200th goal in KHL action against Salavat Yulaev, and Ufa’s efforts to get back into the game were hampered by two penalties on Granlund. And the Ak Bars captain added a third midway through the final frame, converting a fine pass from Stanislav Galiyev. Another power play late in the play saw Galiyev get a deserved goal of his own and wrapped up a satisfying win for Dmitry Kvartalnov’s team.
Both of these teams have been inconsistent this season — and today’s game showed just why. Severstal blew a 2-0 lead and looked to be heading for defeat in regulation, but Torpedo failed to close out the game and went to overtime.
Yegor Morozov and Denis Vikharev got the visitor off to a great start with two goals inside 13 minutes. But Mark Marin soon had Torpedo back in contention. The game remained poised at 1-2 until the last 10 minutes when there was another scoring explosion. Damir Zhafyarov tied the scores, then Andy Miele’s third of the season looked to have won it for the host, putting Torpedo 3-2 up with less than four to play. Alexander Petunin changed all that, though, tying the game in the closing minutes.
And there was late drama in overtime when Kirill Kapustin scored the decisive goal six seconds before the hooter. A third win in five for Severstal lifts the team to seven points, good for fifth in the West.
Vladimir Tkachyov scored twice in the first period to set SKA on the way to victory over a Spartak team that is still struggling for form this season. The Red-and-Whites have talked a lot about a lack of physical conditioning costing them in games, but this time the Army Men did the damage in the first period, rather than outlasting the opposition in the later stages.
Tkachyov was the difference-maker. He opened the scoring in the eighth minute, converting SKA’s first power play after the visitor found itself under the cosh after two indiscretions of its own. Lukas Bengtsson slipped the puck out to the left, and Tkachyov’s powerful effort ripped into the top corner. Eight minutes later, Tkachyov was on target again as SKA passed its way into the zone and Linden Vey fired the puck to the slot where his team-mate deployed a wrist shot to beat Nikita Bespalov in the home net.
Early in the second, visiting goalie Yaroslav Askarov was at the center of attention. He made two big saves as Spartak’s power play flexed its muscles, but found himself in trouble when he was called for throwing his stick at Sergei Shirokov on a breakaway. The subsequent penalty shot saw the SKA forward try to slip the puck under Askarov’s pads, but the goalie was wise to the trick and stopped the shot.
Spartak never came as close again. Apart from one chance for Zubov early in the third, the Red-and-Whites struggled to get good looks at Askarov in the closing stages as SKA did a good job of taking the pace out of the game and closing out the win. Valery Bragin’s team joins CSKA and Avtomobilist on 11 points at the top of the table.
This season’s Vitaly Kravtsov looks to be back to his best. When the Chelyabinsk native announced he was returning home on a loan deal from New York, there was some trepidation. After all, last year he made a brief, unsuccessful return to Traktor and looked a shadow of the man who illuminated the 2018 playoffs. This time around, though, he’s recaptured the form that made him one of the hottest prospects in Russia — and two more goals today proved to be the difference against Vityaz.
Kravtsov opened the scoring in the 14th minute, but the home team had the better of the play in the first period and tied the scores through Kaspars Daugavins in the last minute. That might have been the cue for Vityaz to take control in the middle frame, but instead the two teams largely cancelled each other out.
A scuffle at the start of the third — Artyom Ivanyuzhenkov vs Oleg Yevenko — woke things up a bit, and once the dust settled it was Traktor that forged ahead. Kravtsov’s second of the game restored the visitor’s lead and Pontus Aberg sealed the deal with his first goal in the KHL. The young Russian forward now has five goals in six games, his team climbs to sixth in the East.
HC Sochi vs Lokomotiv — postponed
Thursday’s game beside the Black Sea had to be postponed after three Lokomotiv players tested positive for COVID-19.