KHL Game Day Round-Up | September 20, 2022

Dragons shock CSKA

Kunlun Red Star pulled off the biggest shock of the season to date, defeating defending champion CSKA in overtime. Zac Leslie’s goal makes it back-to-back victories for the Chinese franchise in its latest home stand. Elsewhere, Neftekhimik wasted a great chance to record its first victory, blowing a 2-0 lead to lose at Sibir. Barys blanked Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist and Dinamo Minsk edged Severstal by the odd goal in five.

Neftekhimik sees victory slip away

Sibir Novosibirsk 3 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 (0-2, 0-0, 3-0)

Neftekhimik was close to recording its first victory of the season, but ultimately blew a two-goal lead in the third period to slump to an eighth successive loss.

The latest change to the visitor’s roster saw Andrei Chivilyov called up for the first time this season. He responded with two assists. The first of those came on Anthony Camara’s opener, which was created in part by a mistake from Sibir’s Denis Alexandrov. The 28-year-old defenseman was returning to the KHL almost three years after the last of his 57 appearances for Sochi.

That opening goal may have come from a defensive error, but it was a just reward for an enterprising start from Oleg Leontyev’s strugglers. Sibir was not allowed to settle into its game and, up until the moment that Mikhail Sidorov’s penalty gave the home team a chance to regroup, Neftekhimik led the shot count 9-2. Later in the opening frame, a power play for the visitor helped Mikhail Nazarov double the lead. Both scoreline and balance of play suggested the long wait for a win might be coming to an end.

In the second period, Sibir was unable to reduce the deficit. Taylor Beck’s shot against the post was the closest the home team came, despite enjoying four minutes of almost uninterrupted power play at one stage.

However, when Ilya Morozov scored at the start of the third period, the alarm bells began to ring for Neftekhimik. An in-form team might have shrugged off that setback; a team on a losing streak often suffers a loss of confidence after allowing a goal. Sibir gradually assumed control of the game and Vladimir Butuzov’s solo effort tied it up midway through the final frame. The same player then got the winner with a couple of minutes left on the clock.

Debut shut-out for Hudacek

Barys Astana 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 0 (2-0, 0-0, 0-0)

Avtomobilist’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference is built on its home form: in Yekaterinburg, the Motormen have won six from six and have yet to be taken to overtime. On the road, though, things are different. Trips to Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Novgorod yielded just one point, and the second tour of the season began with defeat in Nur-Sultan.

Barys, like Avtomobilist, has yet to win on the road. However, today’s success makes it four from five on home ice, helping the Kazakhs into the top eight in the East. It also makes it back-to-back shut-outs: on Sunday, Nikita Boyarkin blanked Sibir, today Julius Hudacek enjoyed an impressive debut to produce a repeat 2-0 scoreline.

The game started on a sour note when Avto’s Nick Ebert injured Alikhan Asetov. After a video review, the visiting defenseman was ejected from the game and the major penalty saw Anthony Louis open the scoring with a deft touch in front of the net. Jesse Graham’s assist extends his scoring run to four games. Late in the opening stanza, Graham was involved again as Arkady Shestakov doubled the home lead.

For the remainder of the game, Avtomobilist tried to force the pace. Hudacek was the busier of the goalies, finishing with 36 saves, but the visitor struggled to get really dangerous looks at his net. Barys was able to close out the game fairly calmly to post a victory that lifts Andrei Skabelka’s team to fifth in the East.

Dragons stun defending champ

Kunlun Red Star 2 CSKA Moscow 1 OT (1-0, 0-0, 0-1, 1-0)

An overtime goal from defenseman Zac Leslie gave Kunlun Red Star a shock win at home to CSKA. Greg Ireland’s team absorbed intense pressure from the visitor, goalie Jeremy Smith made 44 saves and his defense blocked 32 shots in total. Yet an intense, hard-working display delivered only a second win for the Chinese franchise against one of the most famous names in the game.

The Dragons weathered a storm of CSKA pressure in the first period, with Jeremy Smith making 16 saves in the opening frame. However, it was the home team that broke the deadlock thanks to a freakish goal from Ryan Sproul. The KRS defenseman, playing his second game since rejoining the team last week, thumped in a point shot that went well wide of the goal. However, it rebounded off the boards, hit goalie Adam Reideborn in the back, and squirmed over the line into the net.

It would be hard to say this was a deserved lead. Red Star defended doggedly, but CSKA had enjoyed much the better of the game up to that point. However, in the second period the game was more evenly contested. Greg Ireland’s team thrives on hard work – 21 blocked shots in the first two periods alone underline the defensive effort – but there were also chances to extend the lead as Kunlun began to generate more offense. Although CSKA still had the lion’s share of possession, the home team was getting more pucks to the net.

In the end, it took a power play goal to bring the scores level. CSKA had failed to punish two earlier Kunlun penalties but it proved to be third time lucky for the defending champion when Maxim Mamin stuffed home the rebound from a Darren Dietz shot.

However, Red Star refused to buckle. That phenomenal workrate continued – another 11 blocked shots in the third period – and the game went to overtime.

The extras lasted just 10 seconds. Kunlun won the opening faceoff, defenseman Zac Leslie set off into enemy territory and fired past Reideborn to seal a famous victory for his team. Red Star improves to seven points, just two out of the playoff spots.

Revenge win for Bison

Dinamo Minsk 3 Severstal Cherepovets 2 (1-0, 2-2, 0-0)

Dinamo Minsk moved back into the top eight with a narrow win over Severstal in Belarus. The Bison bounced back after two losses and avenged last week’s 5-2 defeat in Cherepovets.

Dinamo found itself in penalty trouble early on. Vitaly Pinchuk visited the box 36 seconds into the game, and Alexei Emelin took a penalty in the fifth minute. Once over those hurdles, though, the home team opened the scoring thanks to Pavel Varfolomeyev eighth-minute marker.

For a long time, that was the sole difference between the teams. However, midway through the second period, the game burst into life and we saw four goals in four minutes. Igor Geraskin drew Severstal level, only for Sergei Sapego to reinstate Minsk’s lead 30 seconds later.

A power play goal from Robin Press tied the game at 2-2, but once again Dinamo had a rapid response. This time, Pinchuk found the net to make it 3-2 on 35:01.

After that sudden flurry of goals, it all went quiet again. There was no further scoring in the final frame as Craig Woodcroft’s team closed out the win.


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