Dinamo made it five wins on the spin to maintain its place in the top three of the Western Conference. These are heady times for the Belarusian club, enjoying its best start to a KHL season and showing a huge improvement after struggling last term.
This time, Craig Woodcroft’s team did things the hard way. In the opening minutes, Dinamo picked up two rather soft penalties and had a 3-on-5 situation to kill. It wasn’t long before Traktor fell into a similar trap, but neither team could capitalize on its big numerical advantage. But midway through the first period, Francis Pare released Artyom Demkov and he opened the scoring with his fourth of the season. Five minutes later, Ryan Spooner was well-placed for a shot but surprised the home defense by finding Rob Klinkhammer on the slot; Klinks needed no second invitation to double the lead.
But Traktor, with several changes from the roster that lost in Ufa last time out, gradually got into the game. Midway through the second period, Anvar Gatiyatulin’s team got its reward. Brennan Menell’s misplaced pass was collected by Yaroslav Kosov and the forward halved the deficit. Dinamo ended the frame with another pair of penalties and Traktor, this time, could take advantage at the start of the third. Nick Bailen, once a favorite in Minsk, tied the scored a minute after the restart and the game was wideopen once again.
Clawing back a two-goal deficit was not the only achievement of the day for Traktor. The Chelyabinsk team became the first to stop Minsk scoring three or more in a game this season. But it could not stop Dinamo’s winning run. In the shoot-out, a Czech goaltending duel between Roman Will and Dominik Furch ended in the latter’s favor. Demkov scored the first attempt of the night and nobody else could match his success.
Going into this game, Jokerit had a unique distinction. It was the only team in the KHL that had not lost a game on the ice. True, the Finns’ opening fixture of the season went to Dinamo Minsk, but that was a walkover victory for the Belarusians after the opposition declined to travel for the game.
While Jokerit assumed leadership on a ‘points-per-game’ basis, CSKA was looking to move to the Western Conference summit with a win in Helsinki. The Army Men made just one change from its 5-0 win over Severstal, with Mario Kempe making his first appearance of the season.
CSKA made a fast start and opened the scoring in the first minute through Anton Slepyshev. But Jokerit came from behind in Friday’s 5-2 win against Sibir and quickly tied this game as well thanks to Jesse Joensuu.
Jokerit’s power play has been a big part of its success at the start of this season and, midway through the second period, the home team showed why. Mikko Lehtonen’s shot was diverted into the net by Veli-Matti Savinainen, leaving Alexander Sharychenkov with no chance of making the save. That lead remained intact until the second intermission, but everything would change in the final session.
Janis Kalnins, making his second appearance of the season, won’t want to be reminded of CSKA’s equalizer early in the third. The Latvian goalie had a clear view of Sergei Andronov’s shot but somehow lost track of his positioning and allowed the puck into the net. That inspired the visitor to push on in search of a winner. For a time, it seemed that those efforts were in vain as the score remained tied and the clock ticked down towards overtime. But with three minutes to play, Andrei Svetlakov made it 3-2 and, as Jokerit poured forward in search of salvation, Dmitry Samorukov scored into the empty net with four seconds left.
Torpedo snapped a five-game losing streak in style, rattling up a big win at home to Neftekhimik. For the visitor, though, this heavy lost stamped on signs of a revival after Vyacheslav Butsayev’s team won its previous two.
Sergei Goncharuk was the game-winner. He opened the scoring on the power play in the third minute, and doubled the lead late in the first period. The middle session saw the home team continue to dominate much of the play but brought no further scoring.
Even at the mid-point of the third period, Neftekhimik was still in with a chance of saving the game, but then it all went astray. Andrei Belevich extended Torpedo’s lead then a 5-on-3 power play led to power play goals for Chris Wideman and Anton Shenfeld, putting the game well beyond the visitor’s reach. That wasn’t quite the end of the action, though. In the last couple of minutes, Torpedo collected three separate penalties and Neftekhimik managed a consolation goal from Pavel Poryadin.
Dinamo Minsk’s rise up the Western Conference has deservedly captured the early-season attention, but Severstal’s quiet progress this term is also noteworthy. Andrei Razin’s team is now fifth in the West thanks to a solid start.
Prior to this game, the Steelmen had perhaps lacked an eye-catching victory over a genuine top team — but the visit of Ak Bars presented the perfect opportunity to put that right and bounce back from a 0-5 defeat at CSKA. And a hard-working performance against the Eastern Conference high-flyer delivered a memorable win with Daniil Vovchenko’s two goals making the difference.
At times, it’s true, Severstal had to dig deep to stop the visitor taking control of the game. The first period saw Ak Bars have the better of the game only for diligent defense (and former Kazan goalie Vladislav Podyapolsky) to keep the scoreboard blank. But the second saw Severstal even up the play and get in front when Jindrich Abdul’s long-range effort found the target before the interval.
By that time, Podyapolsky, who sat out the loss to CSKA, had gone well over 100 minutes without allowing a goal. The streak reached 117 minutes before Mikhail Fisenko’s short-handed goal tied the scores midway through the third. Severstal responded through Vovchenko and, with time running out it seemed that Ak Bars was beaten. Not quite. Artyom Galimov levelled it up in the 58th minute and we went to overtime before Vovchenko struck again to seal the win.
It took a little time for Corban Knight to settle at Avangard. The Canadian forward, who played last season with Barys, managed just two assists in his opening six games for his new club. But then it all dropped into place. Today brought his fourth goal in four games, breaking the deadlock in a clash with a Metallurg team still looking for greater consistency after summer rebuild.
Knight’s goal here came midway through the game. Avangard got on the power play, and he turned up at the back door to put the finishing touch on a piece of tic-tac-toe involving Jiri Sekac and Sergei Tolchinsky.
The drama continued. Avangard found itself down to three men but Pavel Dedunov’s breakaway drew a hook from Sergei Plotnikov and a golden chance to increase the lead with a penalty shot. Sergei Shumakov stepped up, beat Vasily Koshechkin but put the puck the wrong side of the post. At the other end, Emil Garipov pulled off a big save to deny Harri Pesonen, with Semyon Chistyakov recovering well to tidy up the rebound as the Finn anticipated a second chance.
Garipov was busy in the third as well, with Magnitka trying desperately to avoid a third successive defeat at Avangard. The home goalie made 14 saves in the final stanza — 34 in total — to secure his third shut-out of the season and his second against this opponent. In the dying seconds, Shumakov made amends for his penalty shot miss by sealing the win. Collecting the puck on his own blue line, he got away from Yegor Yakovlev and fired into the empty net to make it 2-0.