Dinamo Riga returned from quarantine to play its first game since Sep. 16 — and an unfamiliar roster gave in-form Dinamo Minsk a real battle.
The Latvians had a host of inexperienced players on the team: six teenagers making their KHL debuts, and two more youngsters with a handful of games each. There was also a first appearance for Finnish defenseman Tony Sund, who played last season with TPS in the Liiga.
Against a Minsk team in fine form — unbeaten in six and riding high in the Western Conference — Riga had its work cut out. But, fired with adrenaline on a return to the ice, the home team matched its opponent in the opening stages and was unfortunate to trail to a Roman Gorbunov goal just before the first intermission. When Artyom Demkov doubled the lead with a power play goal midway through the second, things looked tough for the Latvians, but in a period studded with penalties, Riga stayed in touch.
Pavel Chernov pulled one back before Demkov struck again, then Mathew Maione — who played for both these clubs last season — made it a one-goal game with yet another power play goal late in the second.
In the 58th minute, Riga went for broke. Ilya Proskuryakov returned to the bench as Peteris Skudra looked to force the pace and grab an equalizer. Fourteen seconds later, the home crowd was celebrating as Glebs Prohorenkovs, one of those new faces, marked his KHL debut with a vital goal. Lund got his first point with an assist on the play.
That sent us all the way to a shoot-out and, once again Riga rallied from a losing position. Evgeny Grachyov converted his team’s last attempt in the opening round, saving the Latvians from defeat. Then, in sudden death, Chernov got the winner to secure only a second victory of the season for his team.
Two goals in 15 seconds early in the middle frame shaped the destiny of this game. Lokomotiv’s quickfire double was enough to open a 4-1 lead over Ak Bars and the visitor could not quite close the gap.
Artur Kayumov got the first of them, sweeping home Magnus Paajarvi Svensson’s feed from behind the net to convert his team’s first power play of the game. Then, with Ak Bars back at full strength, Artyom Ilyenko reacted first to a blocked shot from Yegor Averin and slotted a backhand effort past Timur Bilyalov.
That was the end of Bilyalov’s evening, and Ak Bars rallied with Adam Reideborn between the piping. The Swede did not allow any further goals and, as the midway point approached, the visitor potted a quick double strike of its own. Stanislav Galiyev made it 2-4, then Stephane Da Costa grabbed a goal on his first return to Yaroslavl after his summer move to Kazan. However, Loko calmed the storm and managed to close out a one-goal game.
For the second game running, Spartak played an absorbing Moscow derby. After edging Dynamo in a shoot-out after a 4-4 tie on Monday, the Red-and-Whites took on CSKA in another tight, high-scoring affair. But, after jumping to a 2-0 lead, the home team struggled to cope with Pavel Karnaukhov. The 23-year-old bagged the first hat-trick of his KHL career, while summer signing Brendan Leipsic scored his second goal since arriving in Russia.
The first period was hard-fought, but Spartak got itself into a strong position thanks to goals from Maxim Tsyplakov and Robin Hanzl. However, in the last minute of play, Karnaukhov’s first of the night opened up a road back into the game for his team. Nikita Bespalov blocked the initial shot from Maxim Mamin but was powerless as Karnaukhov followed up.
Early in the second, Leipsic tied the game, cutting in from the right and placing a wrister just under the bar to reset the game. Spartak responded with a trademark thunderbolt from Andrei Kuteikin, who smashed home yet another shot from his own blue line to restore that lead. However, Karnaukhov scored twice in the last five minutes of the session to put CSKA in front for the first time in the game.
The lead did not last long. Just seven seconds into the third period, Spartak tied the game when Jori Lehtera set up a one-timer for Lukas Radil. Both teams had chances to win it, but the decisive blow came in the 51st minute when Mario Kempe’s shot was deflected into the path of Leipsic and CSKA’s summer recruit redirected the puck past Bespalov to make it 5-4. Artyom Fyodorov went close to saving the game for Spartak in the last minute, but CSKA held on to take the win.
Three goals in the third period steered Jokerit to victory over Severstal. The Finns halted a two-game losing streak but twice came from behind to do so.
In some respects, this was a reverse of the game at Avangard. On that occasion, Jokerit led twice on goals from Niklas Jensen, but was pegged back and lost in overtime. Here, Severstal opened the scoring with Vladislav Kodola’s short-handed goal in the 15th minute, only for Mikko Lehtonen to tie it up on the power play late in the frame. The middle stanza followed a similar path. Vladislav Provolnev restored the home lead on the power play, only for Eeli Tolvanen to tie it up again with his first goal of the season.
But in the final frame, Jokerit pulled away. Iiro Pakarinen and Niklas Jensen scored two in quick succession to open a commanding lead; for Jensen that’s three goals in two games, five in six for the season. Then the closing minutes saw Saku Maenalanen make it 5-2 and send the Steelmen to a second successive home loss.
There was a dramatic finish to this game, with Avangard tying the scores late in the third period then having a last-minute goal disallowed for a high stick. Overtime could not separate the teams — the game went without a break for more than four minutes — and the shoot-out was a long one. But, after 20 attempts, Pavel Vorobei finally gave Vityaz the verdict.
Vityaz set out with a game plan to shoot the puck as often as possible — in the first two periods the visitor had 52 attempts at goal, with 25 of them on Igor Bobkov’s net. Only one of them paid off, though, when Evgeny Artyukhin opened the scoring in the 24th minute.
Avangard’s approach play was more circumspect and, at times in the third period, it looked like the Hawks’ offense was destined to be frustrated. Late in the game, though, a power play chance saw Yegor Chinakhov get on the scoresheet once again. The 19-year-old got the overtime winner in Avangard’s previous game and tonight’s latest clutch goal takes him to four for the season.
Then came controversy. Another power play, and Avangard had the puck in the net once again. However, Denis Zernov’s celebrations were cut short by the video review. A high stick was spotted, and the goal was whistled off. Instead, we were destined for overtime and ultimately a shoot-out.
After seeing a six-game winning streak end in dramatic fashion at Spartak, Dynamo suffered another loss. This time, Traktor did the damage, leaving Moscow with the points thanks to two goals early in the third period.
The visitor got the lead with a power play goal midway through the first, Lukas Sedlak finding the net for the second game in a row. Then the same player turned provider for his Czech compatriot Tomas Hyka on another power play at the start of the second.
Dynamo hit back. Teemu Pulkkinen reduced the deficit before Daniil Tarasov tied the scores early in the third. But this was very much Sedlak’s day. The Czech forward had an assist as Nick Bailen restored Traktor’s lead. Yaroslav Kosov then sealed the win with a fourth goal in the 46th minute.