Avangard continues to improve, Bocharov wins goalie battle.
The week’s action began in the Far East, where Salavat Yulaev and Metallurg enjoyed 2-0 road wins. Avangard got its second successive victory, defeating Traktor 3-1. Lokomotiv came out on top at Dynamo in a game where both goalies faced their former team-mates, and Torpedo edged Vityaz in a shoot-out.
Tigers blunted for second time in three games
Both teams were looking for an improvement after suffering recent defeats. Amur lost back-to-back home games against Metallurg, while Salavat was on a three-game skid that included two losses at Admiral.
The visitor’s big problem in recent games was failing to take its scoring chances. In response, head coach Viktor Kozlov reshuffled his roster. Alexander Chmelevski’s line was promoted, while Artyom Pimenov, Danil Bashkirov and Evgeny Timkin were recalled to the forward line. Timkin, a hugely experienced center, finally got to make his Ufa debut after joining the club in the summer.
In the early stages, there were good chances for Evgeny Oksentyuk and Andrew Calof to put the home side ahead, with Ufa scrambling to kill a penalty. However, the opening goal came at the other end when Ivan Drozdov got his first of the season. A few minutes later, Nikolai Kulemin’s strength in front of the net helped him force a rebound past Kalnins for 2-0.
Buoyed by that lead, Salavat Yulaev looked rather fresher than its host, particularly in the second period. Amur struggled to generate offense – a common problem for the Tigers this season, and failed to score for the second time in three games.
Fourth straight win for Metallurg
In contrast with Monday’s other early game, this one pitted two opponents lifted by victories in each of their last three games.
That form did not discourage Admiral’s head coach Leonids Tambijevs’ from shuffling his roster for this game. Only the starting five remained unaffected for the home team. Metallurg also made changes, bringing in defensemen Yaroslav Khabarov and Vladislav Yeryomenko in place of Valery Orekhov and Ilya Nikolayev.
Metallurg was given a head start by the Sailors’ poor discipline in the opening minutes. Three penalties for the home team led to two goals inside the first 15 minutes, with Yegor Yakovlev and Denis Zernov on target. Technically, Yakovlev’s opener came with the teams at equal strength; the Magnitka captain’s shot hit the net just as Alexander Shevchenko was emerging from the box.
In the second period, Admiral improved. The home team skated better, looked sharper and generated more scoring chances. However, a goal was not forthcoming and, indeed, Josh Currie had the puck in the home net only to have his effort whistled off for a high stick.
Gradually Metallurg regained its earlier control of the play and Admiral struggled to create offense in the final frame. Even when playing with six skaters in the closing moments, the home team rarely troubled Vasily Koshechkin in the Magnitka net. The Sailors will look for more firepower when the teams meet again here on Wednesday.
Avangard wins again
Two points apiece for Reid Boucher, Sergei Tolchinsky and Corban Knight helped Avangard record a second successive victory. After a slow start to the season, it’s too early to say that the Hawks finally have lift-off, but back-to-back road wins make life look a lot better for the Omsk team.
Traktor, meanwhile, remains inconsistent. Anvar Gatiyatulin’s team continues to alternate wins and losses and this was seventh game of a LWLW sequence for the host. Today brought a debut for Adam Almquist, a Swedish defender with extensive KHL experience. He slotted straight into Traktor’s first pair.
The game got off to a relatively slow start and Traktor managed just four shots on goal in the first period. Avangard was livelier, testing Ilya Proskuryakov eight times, but this was hardly a feast of goalmouth action.
Early in the second, though, the visitor upped the tempo. Traktor ran into penalty trouble and Avangard scored two power play goals in 76 seconds. Tolchinsky got the first, Knight the second as the Hawks’ top line did its job. Early in the third, a defensive error presented Avangard with a third goal. Alexei Bereglazov, celebrating his 500th KHL game, was the scorer; the defenseman’s productive streak now extends to 6 (3+3) points in six games.
Traktor kept battling until the end, but only a consolation goal from Vladimir Tkachyov offered any kind of lift for the home fans.
Shoot-out success keeps Torpedo on song
Both of these teams went to overtime in their previous outings, and sure enough they went beyond the 60-minute mark again here. A 1-1 tie in regulation was not broken until the shoot-out, when Torpedo proved clinical at one end while goalie Ivan Kulbakov was unbeatable at the other. Torpedo improves to five wins from six while Vityaz suffered a fourth straight loss.
It took some time for the first goal to arrive, but late in the second period Torpedo unlocked Vityaz on the power play. The visitor boldly attempted to change on the fly during that penalty kill, only to be caught out as Igor Larionov Jr exchanged passes with Denis Yan before shooting home his third of the season. With 6 (3+3) points so far, the head coach’s son is proving that he has his place in the team on merit.
Torpedo’s opener also ended Maxim Dorozhko’s long run without allowing a goal. The 24-year-old netminder survived a full 65 minutes of his first start in Yaroslavl, and also had just over six minutes of game time as an understudy against CSKA. In total, he managed 109:26 before allowing his first goal in the KHL.
However, the home team is not set up to simply defend a lead. Torpedo continued to look for scoring chances in the third, and was hit on a counter attack in the 44th minute. Jeremy Roy finished off a swift break that saw Scott Wilson and Tyler Graovac move play from one end to the other.
That goal took the game to overtime. In its previous game, Torpedo edged a 2-1 verdict at Spartak in the extras, while Vityaz went down in a shoot-out at Lokomotiv. Today, it went to a shoot-out and, once again, Vityaz struggled to convert its attempts. Kulbakov got the better of four opponents, while success for Alexei Kruchinin and Vasily Atanasov secured the win for the home team.
Bocharov denies former colleagues
This game was an intriguing clash of two goalies up against their former clubs. Ilya Konovalov broke into the senior game at Lokomotiv but after a spell in North America he returned to the KHL with Dynamo this summer. At the other end, Ivan Bocharov swapped Moscow for Yaroslavl in the close season. For both, it would be their first game against their old colleagues.
Lokomotiv also came into this one in an unusual position. With seven points from seven games, Igor Nikitin’s team found itself outside the playoff places in the early standings. True, the Western Conference is tight, with second-placed Dynamo just three points better off. However, the prospect of Loko outside the top eight prompted some nervous headlines in the Russian sports media prior to today’s action.
The Railwaymen produced some answers in Moscow. Denis Alexeyev laid the foundations for this win, scoring on either side of the first intermission. Both of his goals were assisted by Georgy Ivanov and Stepan Nikulin, the youngster whose penalty shot finally separated Lokomotiv and Vityaz at the weekend. However, if the first was a combined effort, the second was a fine solo affair with Alexeyev collecting the puck on the blue line, dancing around Andrei Mironov and winning his duel with Konovalov. In between, Dynamo tied the game on a power play goal from Andrei Nikonov, a 19-year-old scoring his first in the KHL.
Midway through the second period, Loko extended its lead with a power play goal from Ivan Chekhovich. That was a third of the season for the summer arrival from Torpedo and it complete the scoring as Lokomotiv recorded a second successive win.