Andy Potts Andy Potts
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It’s just under 4,000 miles from Helsinki to Khabarovsk — and that proved a step too far for Jokerit, beaten 4-1 at Amur in Monday’s early game. Sibir suffered a sixth straight defeat, losing 1-3 at home to Ak Bars, but Kunlun celebrated its second win of the season when it overcame Torpedo by the same scoreline. Valery Bragin returned to SKA’s bench to see his team ease past Vityaz and Salavat Yulaev added to Sochi’s problems with a win by the Black Sea.

Jokerit suffers on longest journey

Amur Khabarovsk 4 Jokerit Helsinki 1 (1-0, 1-1, 2-0)

Jokerit suffered an unexpected loss away to Amur. While the Finns are in the midst of a gruelling road trip out East, playing in Novosibirsk two days before this game, Amur’s travel plans were no less taxing. The Tigers were frolicking on the shores of the Black Sea before travelling back to the Far East for the start of this home stand.

The visitor was without leading scorer Niklas Jensen and fellow Dane Peter Regin for this one but still enjoyed an even share of the first-period action. The Finns even managed to kill a long 3-on-5 situation but, after withstanding that storm, fell behind unexpectedly after giving up a short-handed goal. Vladimir Butuzov cashed in after a mistake in Jokerit’s own zone and Amur had the lead seconds before the intermission.

In the second period Alexander Polunin extended the home lead before Mikko Lehtonen got Jokerit on the board. The defenseman, his team’s leading scorer once again this season, thumped home a power play marker to bring the game right back to life.

This time, though, Lehtonen’s goal disrupted the flow of the game rather than reversing it. The third period saw Polunin and Butuzov score their second goals of the game to lead Amur to an encouraging victory.

Sixth straight loss for Sibir

Sibir Novosibirsk 1 Ak Bars Kazan 3 (0-3, 1-0, 0-0)

Times are hard in Novosibirsk just now, and today’s loss to Ak Bars made it six on the spin for the home team. Nikolai Zavarukhin’s team last tasted victory back on Oct. 2 when it won 4-2 against Torpedo. Since then, it has dropped out of the top eight on an alarming skid.

Photo: 19.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) - Ak Bars (Kazan)

Today’s opponent, Ak Bars, has also stuttered of late, losing six of its last nine. With several key players unavailable, including both first-choice goalies, head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov has been forced to call on the organization’s reserves, disrupting the familiar flow hockey in Kazan.

However, there was no sign of any disruption in the first period here. Ak Bars flew into a 3-0 lead before the first intermission, ending any Sibir hopes before the game was eight minutes old. That was the time needed for Andrei Pedan and Kirill Petrov to give the visitor a two-goal advantage and end Alexei Krasikov’s evening. He was replaced by Harri Sateri, but it wasn’t long before Petrov had a second goal past a second goalie.

The Sibir forwards were not creating enough to really test Amir Miftakhov in the Kazan net — although the club dismissed goalie coach Jari Kaarela on the eve of the game, on this occasion the problem was definitely at the other end of the ice. True, Juuso Puustinen got the home team on the scoreboard midway through the second period but Ak Bars was rarely troubled on its way to a 3-1 win.

Dragons do it again

Kunlun Red Star 3 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 (0-0, 2-0, 1-1)

Is it too soon to talk about ‘in-form Red Star’? After a long, long wait for a win this season, the Dragons made it two from two with success at home to Torpedo. Alexei Kovalev’s team is getting closer to full strength and, after defeating Salavat Yulaev last week, is also growing in confidence.

Photo: 19.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Kunlun Red Star (Beijing) - Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)

Kunlun welcomed back some big names — Tyler Wong and Ryan Sproul, two key players last season, came back after illness, while Slovak international David Bondra will be hoping for a longer run in the team after last season was wrecked by injury and this one was blighted by illness. But there was also a worry with goalie Simon Hrubec missing out after taking a knock in the Ufa game.

His replacement, Dmitry Shikin, had a busy first period and was indebted to a sharp-eyed coach’s challenge to wipe out Alexei Drobin’s goal for offside. Drobin’s day was destined to get worse: in the second period, his pass back to goalie Alexei Melnichuk enabled Hunter Shinkaruk to swoop onto the loose puck and open the scoring. Four minutes later, Ivan Nikolishin doubled the home lead and that winning feeling was firmly back in Mytishchi.

The teams traded goals at the start of the third, with on-loan Alexei Toropchenko potting his first in the KHL 16 seconds after the restart, only for Daniil Ilyin to beat Shikin from close range and keep Torpedo’s hopes alive. However, that proved to be the end of the scoring as Red Star closed out a second successive victory.

Bragin’s return inspires big SKA victory

SKA St. Petersburg 5 Vityaz Moscow Region 1 (3-0, 0-1, 2-0)

SKA, ravaged by illness and struggling for form, needed a lift when Vityaz came to visit. The first good news came earlier in the day when club vice-president Roman Rotenberg told reporters that head coach Valery Bragin had recovered from illness and would be back behind the bench. Rotenberg added that most of the team’s players were back in training and hoped that SKA would soon be back to full strength.

The feel-good factor carried over into the game. Just 66 seconds into the action, SKA took the lead. Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi, one of several players on both teams to line up against his former club, intercepted the puck and started a counter that ended with Kirill Marchenko opening the scoring. Soon afterwards, Vladislav Kamenev made it 2-0 with his second goal since coming back to Russia on loan from the Avalanche organization. The 24-year-old former Metallurg prospect had his own health issues in the summer but now has two goals in five games for the Army Men. On 13 minutes, Joonas Kemppainen made it 3-0, arriving at the back door to put away the rebound from an Emil Galimov shot.

The second period saw the home team look to build on its advantage. SKA dominated the play, leading Vityaz in all areas except one. The only goal of the frame, though, went to the visitor when Mattias Tedenby went one-on-one with Mikhail Berdin and offered his team a lifeline in the game.

However, there was no way back. SKA maintained its dominance during the third period, adding a fourth goal through Miro Aaltonen, another former Vityaz player. And a late power play goal for Yakov Trenin completed an emphatic win for the Army Men.

Stavrovsky still waiting for first win

HC Sochi 0 Salavat Yulaev Ufa 2 (0-0, 0-0, 0-2)

Teemu Hartikainen scored for the third game running to break the deadlock in this game early in the third period. The Finn sent Sochi spinning to yet another defeat as new head coach Evgeny Stavrovsky gets to grips with the problems he inherited after taking the hot seat last week.

For two periods, the new man saw his team compete well. In the opening session, Ufa had the better of the game but Sochi did well to stay in contention and keep the scoreboard blank. In the second, the home defense tightened up and while the spectacle might not have thrilled the fans in the Bolshoy Dome, a disciplined performance would give great satisfaction to any coach.

But the Leopards were undone in the third. Hartikainen broke the deadlock in the 45th minute, scoring a power play goal off Markus Granlund’s feed. Granlund was involved again shortly afterwards as Alexander Alexeyev doubled the lead. From then on, there was no way back for Sochi.

Dinamo Riga vs Metallurg Magnitogorsk — game cancelled (COVID-19)

Dinamo Riga requested that this game be cancelled after a number of infections in the club’s senior and junior ranks. A decision about whether the game will be rescheduled will follow later.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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