KHL Game Day Round-Up: September 7, 2022

Lokomotiv wins on anniversary, Khairullin hits a hat-trick.

The 11th anniversary of the Yaroslavl air disaster saw Lokomotiv edge a 4-3 win over Neftekhimik on an emotional evening at its home arena. Youngster Daniil Tesanov got the winner. Dynamo and SKA maintained their unbeaten starts to the season, with Marat Khairullin’s hat-trick leading Petersburg to a 4-1 win over Avangard. Vityaz is also perfect after three games thanks to a 5-0 win over Barys. Salavat Yulaev snapped its losing start to the campaign with a 4-2 victory in Minsk, ending Dinamo’s winning start.

Tesanov gives Loko an emotional win

It was an emotional day in Yaroslavl. Today marked the 11th anniversary of the 2011 air disaster that wiped up the Lokomotiv team as it flew to a road game in Minsk. Last season was the first time Lokomotiv played on Sep. 7 since the tragedy; today was the first time Yaroslavl staged KHL hockey on the anniversary.

The poignant pre-game ceremonies were impeccably observed by all in the arena and Lokomotiv began its home opener in impressive style. Just a minute into the game, Ivan Chekhovich opened the scoring with his first goal since arriving from Torpedo in the summer. Long-serving forward Yegor Averin doubled that lead and the Railwaymen seemed to be in control.

At the start of the second period, though, Neftekhimik reminded everybody that there were two teams involved. Mikhail Sidorov reduced the deficit, then Yegor Popov tied the scores in the 25th minute. Loko looked for a way back and Georgy Ivanov hit the crossbar before Neftekhimik ran into penalty trouble and Denis Alexeyev restored the home lead. Almost immediately, the visitor tied it up. Vyacheslav Leshchenko scored the goal that chased starting goalie Ivan Bocharov from the net in favor of Daniil Isayev.

On a day when memories of the past weighed heavy, it was appropriate that the game was decided by one of Lokomotiv’s brightest prospects. The home team began the third period by peppering Neftekhimik’s net with shots and in the 45th minute Daniil Tesanov broke through the defense to beat Alexander Sudnitsin and make it 4-3. The 21-year-old forward has been on the fringes of the first team roster since 2020-2021 but today was his first goal in the KHL.

Vityaz continued its bright start to the season with a comfortable win over Barys. The Kazakhs, meanwhile, are still seeking their first victory since head coach Andrei Skabelka returned to the club.

The home team seems to be settling in well following its summer move from Podolsk to Balashikha. Wins over Avangard and Salavat Yulaev in its first two games boosted confidence around the team and on Wednesday Vityaz battled through a difficult start before taking control in third.

Barys enjoyed plenty of possession in the first period, helped by a string of minor penalties for Vityaz. However, the visitor could not take advantage and fell behind seconds before the intermission when Scott Wilson jumped on a loose puck in center ice and advanced to score his first KHL goal.

The second period saw more Barys dominance, with 17 shots at Dmitry Shikin. However, he kept them all out and Vityaz was able to extend its lead at the start of the third. This was a power play goal, Stepan Starkov redirecting a Jeremy Roy shot beyond Nikita Boyarkin.

Now Barys saw its discipline disappear. Vladislav Kara made it 3-0, again on the power play, then a 5-on-3 advantage helped Roy score off a Wilson assist. Barys replaced Boyarkin with Andrei Shutov, but Vityaz kept on scoring. Kirill Rasskazov added a fifth, putting away the rebound from Nikita Goncharov’s shot.

Salavat Yulaev got its first win of the season, ending Dinamo’s unbeaten start with a third-period fightback. Viktor Kozlov’s team trailed twice in the game, but scored three unanswered goals in the final stanza to claim the victory.

The home team had 10 goals in its first two games and found the net again after just a minute here. Ryan Spooner struck on the power play, adding to the pair he scored against Avangard in the previous game. He would repeat that feat in the second period with another power play marker.

In between, Alexander Chmelevski hauled Ufa level late in the opening frame. And Chmelevski, a summer arrival at Salavat Yulaev, would do the same again with a second goal on the PP to give his team the lead for the first time in the 53rd minute. Earlier, Sergei Shmelyov tied the scores during a 5-on-3 advantage after Nick Merkley was ejected from the game for kneeing.

After falling behind, Dinamo had two chances to recover when Ivan Drozdov and then Evgeny Biryukov went to the box. This time, though, the PK did its job and there was even a short-handed empty net goal for Vladislav Kartayev to wrap it up. Special teams truly decided the outcome of this game: not one of the six goals came with an equal complement of players on the ice.

This game pitted unbeaten Dynamo against winless Sochi – and both records remained intact after 60 minutes’ play.

Buoyed by impressive results against Ak Bars (2-0) and Neftekhimik (6-1), Dynamo took the game to the home team from the start. Vladislav Mikhailov opened the scoring in the ninth minute with the third goal of his brief KHL career. Late in the opening frame Nikita Buryanov doubled that lead to make a big impact on his KHL debut.

The Blue-and-Whites have deliberately placed a focus on young talent this season, off-loading the team’s high earners in the summer and relying on Alexei Kudashov’s ability to nurture the prospects emerging within the organization. Goals from Mikhailov, 21, and Buryanov, 19, are evidence that this strategy could bear fruit in the longer term.

Sochi, meanwhile, is enduring a slow start to the season. However, under combative head coach Andrei Nazarov, it’s fair to expect a battling team at all times. Today the Leopards recovered from that slow start to give Dynamo a game. Nikita Zorkin pulled one back early in the second period, only for Dmitry Rashevsky to make it 3-1 before the second intermission. Rashevsky is another one of those Dynamo prospects; he announced himself with a prolific campaign last season.

When Nikita Pivtsakin made it 2-3 midway through the third period, he raised hopes of a home fightback. However, it wasn’t long before Jakob Lilja made it 4-2 and that was how the game finished.

Marat Khairullin scored a hat-trick to set SKA on the way to victory over Avangard. It was a third successive win for Petersburg, but the Hawks’ Dmitry Ryabykin is still seeking his first success behind the bench this season.

He might have enjoyed it in this game if Avangard had been able to convert a good first period into goals. The visitor outshot SKA 9-4, with the home offense looking lackluster. However, there was no way past Dmitry Nikolayev and the teams went into the intermission with the scoresheet blank.

The big moment came in the second period when Stanislav Galimov followed Viktor Svedberg into the box. SKA had more than a minute with a two-man advantage, and Khairullin cashed in to score his first for his new club. Late in the middle frame, a penalty on Corban Knight was converted immediately by Mikhail Vorobyov and within a minute Khairullin had his second of the game as SKA assumed control.

In the third, Vladimir Tkachyov fouled the goalbound Danila Moiseyev, who had only just emerged from the sin bin. SKA’s penalty shot was entrusted to young Dmitry Buchelnikov, but he was unable to get a good contact and the puck skipped off his stick at the last moment.

Avangard raised hopes of a late fightback when Alexei Bereglazov pulled a goal back, but that was as good as it would get for the visitor. Instead, Khairullin finished a good day on a high note when he completed his treble with an empty net goal.


Vasily Podkolzin | NHL 2022-23 Top Breakout Candidate @ NHL Fantasy

Vasily Podkolzin, LW/RW, VAN ( fantasy rank: 160) — He was fourth on the Vancouver Canucks in 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes (0.76; minimum 20 games) last season and fifth in the category among NHL rookies (minimum 75 games) despite playing on mostly the third line with a low average ice time (12:48 per game).

Podkolzin could skyrocket in fantasy if he earns a top-six role under coach Bruce Boudreau for a full season with exposure to valuable forwards J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and/or Andrei Kuzmenko (signed one-year contract with Vancouver from Kontinental Hockey League).