SKA stays unbeaten, CSKA loses again.
League leader SKA recorded a 6-3 win at Kunlun Red Star, extending its perfect start to nine games. Defending champion CSKA suffered a second successive loss, going down to Dinamo Minsk. Dynamo Moscow defeated Severstal as Alexei Kudashov celebrated 400 games as head coach in the KHL, while Avtomobilist returned to the top of the Eastern Conference after winning at Sibir.
Avtomobilist back on top
Sergei Shirokov marked his 700th KHL game with his 199th goal, helping Avtomobilist to its first road win of the season and returning the Motormen to the top of the Eastern Conference. Shirokov’s rich vein of form has brought him 13 (7+6) points in 10 games for his new team following a summer move from Spartak and today’s contribution proved to be the game winner.
These two teams met less than a week ago in the Urals, with Avto winning 5-2 on that occasion. The game was characterized by contributions from players up against their former club, and that pattern was resumed in the first seconds of this game. Oleg Li, once of Sibir, gave Avtomobilist the lead after 34 seconds. The visitor built on that, with Yefim Gurkin doubling the advantage inside three minutes.
That slow start saw Sibir replace goalie Denis Kostin with Anton Krasotkin and the home team gradually found its way into the game. Goals either side of the first intermission from Alexander Sharov and Nikita Setdikov tied the game at 2-2.
However, the visitor was able to rebuild its two-goal advantage with a couple of strikes late in the middle frame. Li set up Stephane Da Costa for a power play goal, then Shirokov pounced to make it 4-2. A goal on the PP from Vladimir Butuzov made it a one-goal game again just before the intermission, setting up an intriguing finale.
The third period brought some wide open hockey. Sibir responded to head coach Andrei Martemyanov’s challenge to get more shots on the net while Avtomobilist went in search of a killer fifth goal. However, when the home team pulled Krasotkin with more than three to play, the gamble backfired and Anatoly Golyshev sealed a victory for the visitor.
SKA too strong for Dragons
The Dragons served notice that they can test any team in Mytishchi with an overtime win over CSKA on Tuesday. After defeating the defending champion, Red Star faced another formidable test against undefeated SKA. This time, though, there would be no sensation as SKA recorded its ninth straight win.
The visitor got an early chance to assume control of this game, and Dmitrij Jaskin’s power play goal in the third minute left Kunlun with a big task. The home team thought it had tied the game through Tyler Wong, but a bench challenge established that Ryan Sproul was offside when he forced an interception. SKA held its momentum and a second penalty saw Marat Khusnutdinov double the lead.
However, in the 16th minute the Dragons got a lifeline. Alexander Nikishin jumped into a hit on Wong, injuring the home forward and receiving a 5+game penalty. That extended power play saw Red Star halve the deficit when Kyle Wood scored two seconds before the intermission.
SKA began the second period with almost a minute of that major penalty to kill but survived without any further problems. In the 28th minute, Zakhar Bardakov increased the visitor’s lead and midway through the frame another power play goal, this time from Valentin Zykov, took the game away from Red Star. Zykov then got his second assist of the game as Alexander Volkov added a fifth.
The third period saw Nikita Komarov extend SKA’s lead before Garet Hunt scored his first KHL goal. Hunt, better known as an enforcer than a creative talent, entered the game in time to jump on a broken play and shoot home a one-timer from the deep slot. Shortly after, young defenseman Dmitry Kostenko got his first KHL goal to make it 3-6, offering consolation for the home team but failing to change the final outcome.
Victory for Kudashov in 400th game
Severstal and Dynamo are familiar opponents. In addition to regular battles in the regular season, they have met in the last two playoffs. This was their first meeting of the 2022-2023 campaign, and it saw Blue-and-White head coach Alexei Kudashov mark his 400th game behind the bench.
It proved to be a winning landmark for the coach. Kudashov’s team had to soak up some first-period pressure as the two teams played out a pacy but goalless first period. In the second, though, two quick goals took the game away from the host.
Severstal seemed poised to seize the initiative when Artyom Volkov was sent to the bin. However, Dynamo’s PK was strong and Volkov’s return gave the visitor a further boost. A minute after returning to full strength, Dynamo took the lead through Nikita Buruyanov. The 19-year-old collected a feed from former Severstal man Vladislav Kodola and fired home his second KHL goal. It was 2-0 36 seconds later. Maxim Dzhioshvili scored his first KHL goal when circled off the boards and squeezed a shot past Vladislav Podyapolsky in the home net. Ivan Muranov put up a big screen in front of the goalie.
In recent games, Severstal has done well out of swapping the goalie for an extra skater, setting a KHL record after scoring three times in that way at Metallurg. Today, Andrei Razin played that card once again, and got a reward when Adam Liska pulled a goal back off Igor Geraskin’s feed. However, a last-minute attempt to repeat the trick and force overtime handed Dynamo the winner. Ivan Igumnov shot into an empty net to seal the visitor’s success.
Another loss for defending champ
After its shock defeat at Kunlun Red Star, CSKA faced a tricky trip to Minsk where Craig Woodcroft’s Dinamo was looking to build on a narrow victory over Severstal last time out.
In the first period, Dinamo enjoyed the better of the game. The home team had two power plays, outshot CSKA 13-8 and, crucially, grabbed the opening goal. Vladimir Alistrov was the scorer, just after the first power play came to an end. The forward did well to redirect an Alexei Emelin point shot for his fourth goal of the season.
The second period saw CSKA dig itself into a deeper hole. Andrei Svetlakov’s hooking call midway through the session was a problem, but when Pavel Karnaukhov talked his way into the box at the same time, it became something of a crisis. Dinamo had a double power play for a full two minutes, and Pavel Varfolomeyev’s defense-splitting pass presented Ryan Spooner with the second goal of the game.
In the closing stages of the middle frame, CSKA stepped up the tempo. Mikhail Grigorenko began to test Konstantin Shostak in the home net, and one shot rattled the goalie’s mask before dropping to safety.
However, the visitor was unable to reduce the deficit and Dinamo extended its lead in the final frame. Adam Reideborn managed to stop a Joseph Duszak shot from the blue line, but the rebound dropped for Cedric Paquette to make it 3-0. It wasn’t until the 54th minute that CSKA finally got past Shostak. Yaroslav Dyblenko found a wrist shot that was too good for the home goalie, but by that time it was too late to salvage the game.