It was a day of mixed fortunes for the KHL’s leading teams. CSKA edged Dynamo 2-1 in the Moscow derby, opening up a two-point lead at the top of the table. That was due to Avtomobilist, top dog in the East, failing to win at Severstal. The Steelmen claimed a 2-1 win in that game. Elsewhere, Traktor’s good form continued with a high-scoring win over Neftekhimik and Spartak got the better of an injury-hit Dinamo Minsk.

Nine goals in Chelyabinsk

Traktor Chelyabinsk 6 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3 (1-1, 3-1, 2-1)

In-form Traktor made it six wins from seven games after a high-scoring success at home to Neftkehimik. Anvar Gatiyatulin’s side also made it 10 goals in its last two encounters as it remains handily placed on the heels of the Eastern Conference pacesetters.

Photo: 18.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Traktor (Chelyabinsk) - Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk)

This game was effectively decided when the home team scored twice in little over a minute early in the second period. The score was tied at 2-2, with Traktor recovering from Daniel Butsayev’s early opener for Neftekhimik to lead on Lukas Sedlak’s power play goal shortly after the intermission. The visitor tied it up again through Timur Khafizov, but Sergei Kalinin quickly restored the home advantage. Then, 72 seconds later, Tomas Hyka made it 4-2 — but only after a video review that took longer than the time between Sedlak’s 2-1 goal and Hyka’s 4-2 tally. Initially, the Czech forward was given a hooking minor as he forced the puck beneath Konstantin Barulin during a scramble in front of the visitor’s net. After a review, though, that decision was reversed, and the goal was awarded.

Although that flurry proved decisive, it was not quite the end of the story. Libor Hudacek’s power play goal early in the third gave Neftekhimik a lifeline. However, Alexei Byvaltsev responded in kind five minutes later and Jacob Berglund wrapped up an entertaining game with a sixth Traktor goal in the 53rd minute.

Army Men march clear at the top

CSKA Moscow 2 Dynamo Moscow 1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

League leader CSKA moved two points clear at the top after a hard-fought derby win over Dynamo. A late goal from Bogdan Kiselevich snapped a 1-1 tie as the Army Men defeated its cross town rival for the second time this season.

Photo: 18.10.20. KHL Championship 2020-2021. CSKA (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

The early exchanges were fairly even, but as the first period wore on CSKA began to dominate the play. And, with more pressure on Dynamo’s defense, the home team went in front. Yegor Zaitsev’s attempt to play a long diagonal pass out of his own zone was brilliantly intercepted by Pavel Karnaukhov. He set up Sergei Andronov for the opening goal in the 16th minute.

In the previous meeting between the teams, Dynamo was denied by 28 saves from its former goalie Alexander Sharychenkov. Today, for a time, it looked as though he might get a second shut-out against his former colleagues. CSKA continued to enjoy the better of the game in the second period, with Dynamo forced to absorb the pressure and try to play on the counter. However, after a third successful penalty kill in the game, the Blue-and-Whites tied the scores with an opportunist effort. Mikhail Grigoryev got the puck to Vadim Shipachyov on the center line and the Dynamo captain did the rest. Using Yegor Rykov to conceal his intentions, Shipachyov launched an unstoppable shot past Sharychenkov from the deep slot.

Boosted by that, Dynamo began the third period on the front foot. Helped by a couple of CSKA penalties, the Blue-and-Whites had the better of the play and opened a 7-3 lead on the shot count. Juuso Hietanen and Michal Cajkovsky both went close, but there was no way past Sharychenkov. And then the visitor ran into penalty trouble and found itself 4-on-3 hockey. Despite the reduced numbers on the ice, there was enough traffic around the net to obscure Ivan Bocharov’s view as Kiselevich thumped home a point shot to win it with four minutes left to play.

Injury-hit Dinamo fires blanks again

Dinamo Minsk 0 Spartak Moscow 3 (0-0, 0-2, 0-1)

For the second game running Dinamo had to make do without the bulk of its imports. Only American defenseman Brennan Menell was available for the visit of Spartak as, once again, Craig Woodcroft had to turn to home-grown talent.

Against Lokomotiv on Friday, this Belarusian line-up battled bravely before going down to a 1-0 loss. Here, again, there wasn’t much wrong with the team from a defensive standpoint, but scoring continues to be a problem. The top five scorers on this team are all imports and of the leading Belarusians, Artyom Demkov (7 points) was among the absentees here. Suddenly, a club that played with some attacking verve at the start of the season finds itself struggling to create chances.

That was clearly true in a first period where the two teams mustered just nine shots on goal between them. In the second, Dinamo created more, but was given a lesson in taking its chances from Spartak. The visitor was limited to just five shots on Nikita Tolopilo’s goal, but scored with two of them. Jori Lehtera played a big part in both: first, his shot from the circle was directed past Tolopilo by Lukas Radil on the power play, then he emerged from the penalty box to get on the end of Radil’s rush and double the lead. Dinamo thought it had a goal back late in the frame when Igor Revenko, called up from HK Gomel on a try-out, reacted smartly to catch the puck as it rebounded from the post then drop it on his stick to beat Julius Hudacek. The 30-year-old’s celebrations were cut short though; a video review uncovered an offside in the build-up.

The third period continued in similar fashion, with Dinamo having more shots but struggling to create the incisive play needed to hurt Spartak. Radil then put his second of the game into an empty net. Oleg Znarok’s team improves to two wins from three, suggesting its recent problems may be starting to recede.

Motormen stall in Cherepovets

Severstal Cherepovets 2 Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 (2-1, 0-0, 0-0)

Eastern Conference leader Avtomobilist suffered a surprise defeat at a Severstal team that has hit some uneven form after an encouraging start to the season.

Severstal took the lead in the seventh minute when Alexander Petunin converted the rebound from Mikhail Tikhonov’s point shot. Almost immediately, Avto got a chance to respond when Vladislav Kodola sat for tripping, but the home PK did its job. However, in the 13th minute the visitor tied it up when Brooks Macek chased a Pavel Datsyuk pass into the corner, managed to evade the attentions of every Severstal defenseman and went round the back to deliver the puck to the slot for the waiting Stanislav Bocharov.

However, it only took a couple of minutes for Severstal to restore its lead with a power play goal from Kirill Kapustin. He found space to advance and fired in a shot from between the hashmarks that left Jakub Kovar with too much to do.

That proved to be the winner. Avtomobilist steadily gained a greater control of the game and ended up outshooting Severstal 29-20. But there was no way past Vladislav Podyapolsky as the Motormen lost their grip on top spot in the KHL.

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