Andy Potts Andy Potts
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It was a tough day for the Army Men. CSKA went to Metallurg and saw its seven-game winning run ended by the last team to win against the Western Conference leader. Then SKA lost out 3-4 at home to Dynamo in an entertaining game in Petersburg. All that enabled Avangard to move to the top of the table after thrashing Sochi. Elsewhere, Barys came from 0-2 down to win in overtime at Salavat Yulaev, Spartak almost blew a 5-1 lead at home to Red Star and Vityaz proved too strong for Amur. Torpedo moved ahead of Sibir after defeating its Eastern Conference rival in Nizhny Novgorod.

Barys fights back in Ufa

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 Barys Nur-Sultan 3 OT (0-0, 2-0, 0-2, 0-1)

Salavat Yulaev welcomed back two big hitters, with Juha Metsola, Teemu Hartikainen and Sakari Manninen returning to the roster for Monday’s game at home to Barys. But the men in green blew a two-goal lead as Barys rallied to win this one in overtime and snap a two-game skid.

The game started early in the day — Oct. 12 is Bashkortostan Day, a holiday in Ufa — and the festive spirit might have got Rodion Amirov a little over-excited; the youngster took a penalty in the first minute, and was relieved to see his team-mates calmly bail him out. After that, Jesse Blacker was closest to opening the scoring when he rang Metsola’s iron.

The deadlock was finally broken early in the second when another defenseman, Shakir Mukhamadullin, fired home his second goal of the season. The teenager is one of the brightest prospects in the Ufa system and was selected in the first round of last week’s NHL draft; today he gave another reminder about why he’s so highly prized. Ufa then failed to score on five-minute power play after Nikita Mikhailis was ejected for a foul on Hartikainen, but once the teams were back at full strength Manninen set up another young D-man, Alexander Alexeyev, for his first KHL goal.

Barys began its fightback thanks to another debut goal. Maxim Musorov, 19, sniped a wrist shot past Metsola to reduce the deficit. Darren Dietz tied it up midway through the third and the visitor began overtime on the power play. That helped Roman Starchenko to find the game-winner as Barys made a winning start to its road trip.

Metallurg maintains its hex on CSKA

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 6 CSKA Moscow 4 (3-1, 2-2, 1-1)

Metallurg snapped CSKA’s winning run and recorded its second victory of the season against the league leader. Indeed, Magnitka was the last team to defeat Igor Nikitin’s team before it’s seven-game streak.

Photo: 12.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - CSKA (Moscow)

The home team achieved the win despite the absence of head coach Ilya Vorobyov. He took the pre-game skate on Monday morning, but his responsibilities were then headed over to assistant Fredrik Stillman for the game.

Stillman saw Andrei Chibisov give his team a sixth-minute lead, but also saw that advantage evaporate within 15 seconds as Pavel Karnaukhov tied the game. But the pace remained relentless and Yegor Martynov made it 2-1 on 6:31 — three goals in 33 seconds, just the thing to get any crowd on the edge of its seat. Then, five minutes before the intermission, Andrej Nestrasil made it 3-1. The Czech intercepted the puck as CSKA looked to clear its lines, then found space at the back door to convert a return pass from Taylor Beck.

That two goal cushion kept Metallurg ahead of the Army Men until the end. True, CSKA made it a one-goal game on three separate occasions, with Mario Kempe, Andrei Loktionov and Maxim Mamin all finding the net. But Yegor Yakovlev continued his productive run — three goals, two assists and a shoot-out winner in the last six games — and Maxim Karpov potted his first goal in almost exactly a month before Semyon Koshelev’s empty net effort confirmed the result.

Revenge win for Loko

Jokerit Helsinki 2 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4 (1-0, 1-2, 0-2)

Lokomotiv got revenge for a 2-3 loss on home ice against Jokerit on Oct. 3 and extended its winning streak to four games in the process. The Finns, meanwhile, lost for the first time in four. The Railwaymen tighten their grip on fourth in the West thanks to this win.

Jokerit made a cautious start to the game, happy to wait for errors from Lokomotiv, and when the visitor ran into penalty trouble that strategy paid off. A 5-on-3 power play saw Henrik Haapala find Veli-Matti Savinainen at the back door and he opened the scoring midway through the opening frame.

However, Loko raised the tempo in the second period and turned the game around with two quick goals. Pavel Kraskovsky sent Anton Lander clean through on goal and the Swede beat his compatriot Anders Lindback to tie the game. Then Maxim Osipov’s shot took a big deflection off Mikko Lehtonen to give the visitor at 27th-minute lead. Tommi Kivisto tied the game, claiming his first goal in 110 appearances in curious fashion. His long shot looped through the goalie’s defenses but Loko’s claims of interference on Eddie Pasquale proved unfounded when the video showed it was his own defenseman, Rushan Rafikov, who got in his way and deflected the puck into the net.

The game was in the balance for much of the third period, but when Niklas Jensen gave away an unnecessary penalty, Loko took advantage. Kraskovsky made it 3-2 on the power play and a minute later Artyom Ilyenko secured the win for the visitor.

Zhafyarov’s double lifts Torpedo past Sibir

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 (1-1, 2-1, 0-0)

Two goals from Damir Zhafyarov led Torpedo to victory in this game and sent Sibir spinning to a fourth straight loss.

The home side took the lead in the ninth minute when Zhafyarov’s short-handed goal opened the scoring. It also took the forward to 11 points for the season and gave him an outright lead in the club’s scoring. But it didn’t provide a lasting lead. Nikolai Timashov tied the scores late in the first period and Mikael Ruohomaa put Sibir ahead midway through the second.

Then came two quick Torpedo strikes. Zhafyarov tied it up on 35:28, dancing past Evgeny Chesalin and sending a backhander to the top shelf to record his 150th KHL point. Within a minute Kirill Urakov gave the home team the lead once again. This time Sibir was unable to find a way back, although it did take a long video review to rule that Nikita Shashkov’s effort was stopped by Alexei Melnichuk, even though the home goalie’s glove was groping for the puck behind his back.

Second-period storm gives Vityaz the win

Vityaz Moscow Region 6 Amur Khabarovsk 3 (0-2, 5-0, 1-1)

For 20 minutes, this game could hardly have gone better for Amur. After the first intermission, though, things quickly took a turn for the worse.

The Tigers, eager to build on back-to-back wins, took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Kirill Rasskazov and Artur Gizdatullin. Rasskazov, absent early in the season, scored his third goal in five games, while Nail Yakupov’s assist on the second goal takes him to 5 (1+4) points for his new club.

However, it all went wrong in the second period. Vityaz raised its game and rattled in five unanswered goals. First came a penalty shot from Dmitry Lugin, then Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov and Alexander Dergachyov scored twice in a minute. Alexander Semin and Mattias Tedenby added to Amur’s misery. The visitor pulled one goal back late in the game through Tomas Zohorna but Vityaz had the final say when Justin Danforth added a sixth.

Kagarlitsky off the mark for Dynamo

SKA St. Petersburg 3 Dynamo Moscow 4 (2-2, 1-1, 0-1)

This was one of the most eye-catching fixtures on Monday’s card — and it did not disappoint. Dynamo, missing head coach Vladimir Krikunov due to illness, battled every inch of the way against the Army Men and grabbed a confidence-boosting victory. Since the start of the season there were concerns that the Blue-and-Whites lacked the ability to defeat top-level opposition; today they proved otherwise.

One of the players under question in Moscow is forward Dmitry Kagarlitsky. Brought back from SKA with great ceremony in the summer, he failed to fit into a line with Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin and was without a goal in 13 games as he looked for a role on the team. Today, though, he was back on the first line with Dynamo’s star forwards and needed less than four minutes to turn that opportunity into the first goal of the game. Jaskin got the assist, Shipachyov screened Mikhail Berdin in the home net.

It wasn’t long before SKA turned that around. Vasily Tokranov redirected an Anton Burdasov shot into the Dynamo net and Vladislav Kamenev got his first goal for SKA to make it 2-1 in the ninth minute. The home team seemed set to take a lead into the first intermission, but 10 seconds before the hooter Daniil Tarasov tied it up for the visitor.

There was little between the teams in the middle frame as well, with SKA regaining the lead thanks to Yakov Trenin before Shipachyov scored on his former club to make it 3-3. But the game-winner, in the 48th minute, came from an unexpected source. Defenseman Artyom Volkov doesn’t often find the net, but his point shot took a wicked deflection to beat Berdin and give Dynamo a 4-3 lead. The visitor closed down the game effectively from that point, denying SKA the chance to build momentum around Bocharov’s net and securing a hard-won victory.

Hawks fly to the top of the table

HC Sochi 2 Avangard Omsk 7 (1-3, 1-1, 0-3)

Avangard produced a powerful performance beside the Black Sea, crushing Sochi to return to the top of the Eastern Conference. And, due to CSKA’s defeat in the Urals, Bob Hartley’s team currently holds top spot in the overall KHL table, albeit by the narrowest of margins and having played a game more than the Army Men.

Emphatic as the final score was, Sochi opened the scoring in this game when Sergei Shmelyov struck in the eighth minute. But it wasn’t long before Avangard took control. Yegor Chinakhov tied it up with a power play goal as the rookie’s impressive season continues, then Corban Knight and Ville Pokka opened a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.

Knight got a second midway through the game, but Jere Karjalainen responded almost immediately for Sochi. That merely delayed the inevitable, though. Alexander Khokhlachyov and Andrei Stas scored a quick double midway through the third and Pavel Dedunov added a seventh.

Red Star rallies but falls short again

Spartak Moscow 6 Kunlun Red Star 4 (3-1, 2-1, 1-2)

Spartak snapped a three-game losing streak with a morale-boosting victory against struggling Red Star. The visitor had lost five straight since claiming a walkover win against COVID-hit Lokomotiv on Sep. 22 and only briefly threatened to improve on that dismal record here.

Photo: 12.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Spartak (Moscow) - Kunlun Red Star (Beijing)

The bright spot for the Dragons came in the third minute when Ethan Werek’s power play goal gave the visitor the lead. It was almost two soon after when Spencer Foo hit the post, but that proved to be something of a last hurrah.

Ilya Talaluyev tied the game in the fifth minute and a quickfire double from Dmitry Vishnevsky and Talaluyev again took it away from Red Star. The second period began with Alexander Nikishin potting his first goal in the KHL before Ilya Zubov made it five before the game reached its halfway point.

Down 1-5, Red Star showed great spirit to fight back into the game. Jason Fram powered home a second goal in the 33rd minute and Sam Lofquist grabbed a third from close range. With just over one minute to play, captain Luke Lockhart made it 4-5 and home nerves were jangling. But an empty net goal saw Spartak safely over the line.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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