Amur surprised Avangard with victory in Sunday’s opening game. After losing out to Dinamo Minsk on Friday, the Tigers reshuffled their forwards. The Ushenin brothers sat this one out, and recent additions Dmitry Lugin and Alexander Sharov teamed up on a line with Alexander Gorshkov. The visitor, meanwhile, was unchanged from the line-up that won 4-1 at Sibir during the week.
In the opening exchanges, Avangard continued in the same attacking vein that brought four unanswered goals in the third period in Novosibirsk. However, the visitor could not turn that pressure into goals and instead an Amur counter-attack opened the scoring. Dmitry Arkhipov marked his debut for the club with a goal, squeezing a shot through Simon Hrubec’s pads after a no-look pass from Vladimir Mikhasyonok.
After the intermission, Alexander Polunin doubled the home advantage with a fine solo effort. However, Avangard responded with a short-handed goal a few minutes later when Alexei Potapov beat Evgeny Alikin at the second attempt. In the third period, Amur was reduced to three skaters for a time, and Kirill Semyonov had a good chance to tie the game. The home team held on, though, recorded a third win in four games.
Sibir enjoyed its second victory of the season against Metallurg, while the visitor slipped to a fifth loss in six games. Yefim Gurkin scored twice for the home team as it bounced back from heavy losses at home to Dinamo Minsk (0-6) and Avangard (1-4).
The first period was goalless, despite plenty of enterprising play from both teams. Metallurg had the edge in the opening session but could not get itself on the scoreboard. Early in the second, Gurkin managed to open the scoring with an unusual goal. The defenseman fired in a point shot and went chasing after his own effort. Vasily Koshechkin was uncharacteristically lax in allowing the rebound to get away from him and Gurkin himself recovered the puck to score. Home goalie Anton Krasotkin collected an assist.
That was almost Krasotkin’s last contribution; soon afterwards he suffered an injury and was replaced by Harri Sateri. The Finn was beaten by Sergei Plotnikov, but that effort was whistled off for a high stick. Then came a second goal for Gurkin, this time on the power play.
In the third, Metallurg got the perfect start when Nikolai Prokhorkin pulled a goal back 17 seconds into the action. And when Sergei Mozyakin’s power play goal made it 2-2, there was a sense that the momentum might be swinging Magnitka’s way. However, Juuso Puustinen smashed home a powerful shot midway through the final stanza to restore Sibir’s lead. And that was enough to settle the outcome.
The current road trip has been a good one for Minsk, which collected its third victory here with an aggregate score of 12-2. After victories in Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk, Dinamo began its long journey back home with a successful trip to Kazakhstan.
The form of Brandon Kozun has played a big part as Dinamo bounces back from a sticky run of one win in five games. The Canadian forward was on a three-game productive streak ahead of Sunday’s action and extended that run with 3 (2+1) points here. His first-period double strike went a long way towards settling the outcome of this game, opening the scoring midway through the action and adding a second a couple of minutes later.
Kozun also had a hand in Dinamo’s third of the game. That arrived midway through the third period, after the visitor successfully killed the major penalty that followed Roman Gorbunov’s ejection for spearing. The former Lokomotiv and Metallurg man turned provider as Yegor Sharangovich got his second goal in three games for Minsk.
Barys hoped that it had put its erratic form this season behind it when the international pause enabled Yury Mikhailis and his team to compile a three-game winning streak. Since then, though, the Kazakhs have been as inconsistent as ever. There was some hope of a revival when Jakob Lilja reduced the deficit with a power play goal midway through the third. However, the home team was unable to build on the Swede’s second goal in successive games and Kirill Voronin wrapped up the win for Dinamo with two minutes to play. The Belarusians are now two points clear in fourth in the West, and trail SKA by just three.