Top two stay unbeaten. September 9 round-up: Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)
- SKA and Vityaz remain unbeaten after collecting their fourth wins of the season.
- SKA had a fairly straightforward 4-1 success against previously undefeated Dynamo, but Vityaz had to come from behind three times before defeating Lokomotiv in overtime.
- Elsewhere, Severstal enjoyed a big win at home to CSKA, Salavat Yulaev beat Traktor in its home opener, Sochi got its first success of the season and Sibir’s power play defeated Kunlun Red Star.
Dragons pay the penalty
Sibir’s power play slayed the Dragons, with all four home goals coming when the visitor was shorthanded. Red Star undermined its own chances, taking 35 minutes of penalties. Ex Kunlun defenseman Trevor Murphy scored two goals, and Taylor Beck had three assists against his old club.
Beck was instrumental in the opening goal, quarterbacking a power play that resulted in Alexander Sharov finding the net. Sharov scored the shoot-out winner when these team met in Mytishchi on Tuesday; this was his first goal from open play this season.
In the second period, a 5-on-3 power play saw Murphy score his first with a slapshot. At the start of the third Red Star looked to fight its way back into the game. Unfortunately for the visitor, that enthusiasm spilled over into a bad hit from Jack Rodewald which saw the forward removed from the game. Given Sibir’s power play prowess, it was no surprise that the major penalty brought dividends. Murphy and Sharov both got their second goals of the game, and Sibir celebrated back-to-back wins.
Ufa’s home opener brought together two teams with high expectations but, so far, limited rewards. Salavat Yulaev and Traktor both lost their first two games of the season before getting their first wins last time out. Now, both teams faced the task of building on that success.
The early signs were good for Traktor. For the second game running, Anton Burdasov grabbed an early goal. Today he struck after 22 seconds, having scored on Avtomobilist after just 17 seconds of the previous encounter. However, this time Traktor was pegged back immediately. A penalty for Teemu Pulkkinen led to a power play goal from Stanislav Bocharov.
It was still level at the intermission, but Traktor regained the lead in the 26th minute through youngster Maxim Shabanov. Again, though, the advantage was short-lived. Stepan Sannikov tied the game at 2-2 26 seconds later.
Salavat Yulaev moved ahead for the first time early in the third period. Alexander Chmelevski, who had an assist on the first goal, pounced on a loose puck and rushed through to make it 3-2. Pyotr Yasinsky, another one of Traktor’s youngsters, celebrated his first point earlier in the game but was left holding his head after he was caught in possession to present Chmelevski with the game-winning goal.
Marat Khairullin continued his rich vein of scoring form to set SKA on the way to victory. This game was a battle between two undefeated teams, but a goal rush either side of the first intermission ended Dynamo’s perfect start to the season.
Khairullin, who had a hat-trick in his previous game, continued where he left off. The former Neftekhimik man reacted fastest to a loose puck on the slot, stuffing it home after Marat Khusnutdinov’s rush was halted. A couple of minutes later, he scored again, this time on the power play with a wicked wrister from the left-hand dot.
Dynamo needed a fast start in the second period and duly pushed forward in search of a way back into the game. However, when the visitor’s offense broke down, SKA responded with a devastating counter. Alexander Volkov took the play deep into Dynamo territory before finding Alexander Nikishin. The youngster’s first-timer from between the hash marks emphatically converted the 2-on-1 break and gave him his first goal since moving to Petersburg in the summer.
Early in the third, the Muscovites got one back thanks to defenseman Andrei Mironov. A long spell of pressure on Dmitry Nikolayev’s net ended when Ivan Igumnov fed Mironov for a shot that beat the goalie at his near post. However, there was no fightback. Instead, SKA added a fourth midway through the final stanza when Valentin Zykov put away the rebound from another Nikishin effort.
Vityaz came from behind three times before clinching this one in overtime. In doing so, the home team extended its best ever KHL start to four straight successes. Lokomotiv, meanwhile, has two victories from four games after failing to hold on to a winning position here.
For both teams, most games this season have been tight. Friday’s action was no exception. Lokomotiv got a great start when Maxim Shalunov opened the scoring in the second minute. Vityaz, meanwhile, had cause for frustration. The home team got on the power play after just 18 seconds, but a too many men call wiped out that advantage and Shalunov scored with the teams playing 4-on-4.
The second Vityaz power play was more satisfying and it ended with Alexander Yaremchuk tying the game in the seventh minute. That was the first goal of the season for the highly-rated 23-year-old. However, Loko regained the lead on a power play tally of its own from Ivan Chekhovich and that advantage remained intact until the intermission.
The home PP always posed a threat, and early in the third it led to another tying goal, this time for Stepan Starkov. That set up the extras, and Vyacheslav Butsayev joined the trend of removing his goalie in search of a winning goal. The gamble paid off, with Vladislav Kara settling the outcome in Vityaz’ favor.
Under Andrei Razin, Severstal has made Cherepovets a difficult destination for any team. Today, defending champion CSKA got a taste of how tough life can be in this steel town.
Severstal isn’t a team built around star names. Instead, Razin’s men rely on hard work and a strong team ethic to get results. That was characterized by the opening goal: assists from local hero Daniil Vovchenko, a true leader on his hometown team, and Kirill Pilipenko, a player who struggled to find a role at his previous clubs before settling in at Severstal. Alexander Polunin was the scorer, another forward who has impressed under Razin after some indifferent performances in two spells at Dynamo. This was his third goal in four games; last season he scored just four in total for the Muscovites.
However, CSKA is not champion for nothing. The visitor did not enjoy a great first period, but emerged from the locker room to put things right. It took just 21 seconds for Sergei Plotnikov to tie the game – but Severstal had another ambush in waiting. Barely a minute later, defenseman Nikita Khlystov restored the home team’s lead, with an assist from Semyon Lugovyak, a 24-year-old defenseman considered surplus to requirements on Sergei Fedorov’s CSKA roster.
There was little between the teams for the rest of the second period, but midway through the third Severstal finished off the job. Maxim Kolmykov’s third of the season increased the home advantage, then Yegor Morozov made it 4-1. Kolmykov, 23, is another one of Razin’s carefully nurtured prospects steadily emerging into a reliable performer at this level.
Both of these teams were seeking their first win of the season. Barys could at least take comfort from the point it won in a shoot-out loss in Minsk, but it suffered a painful 0-5 loss at Vityaz in its most recent outing. Sochi, meanwhile, had no points and only three goals from its first three games of the season.
The home team managed to equal that goal tally in the first period of this one. Despite allowing Kirill Savitsky to put Barys ahead on his first shift, Andrei Nazarov’s team played its best hockey of the campaign so far to build a lead. Power play goals from Artur Tyanulin and Nikita Feoktistov put the Leopards ahead, then rising star Artyom Nikolayev added a third late in the session.
It was Sochi’s first lead of the season, which may explain some of the game management issues that emerged in the second stanza. Savitsky scored early once again, then Antony Louis tied it up in the 35th minute as the home team proved unable to protect its advantage. For Louis, it was a first KHL goal following his move to Kazakhstan in the summer.
However, Barys was unable to carry that momentum into the final session. Instead, Sochi produced a blistering attacking display, potting three goals in three minutes to take control of the game. Yegor Babenko put the home team back in front, Tyanulin got his second, and Kirill Petkov made it 6-3. In the middle of all that, starting goalie Andrei Shutov was replaced by Nikita Boyarkin as Barys looked to stem the tide.
In the closing stages, the visitor piled on the pressure but could not find a way to reduce the deficit. After four losses on the road, head coach Andrei Skabelka will expect better from his team when it starts its first home stand on Sep. 13 against Traktor.