The first gameday of 2022 saw Metallurg return to the KHL summit and Dynamo Moscow go back to the top of the West. Dmitry Kvartalnov celebrated 800 games as a head coach by masterminding a 6-2 win at Sibir and CSKA’s goal drought against Avangard came to an end.

Amur starts year with derby win

Admiral Vladivostok 3 Amur Khabarovsk 5 (0-2, 3-3, 0-0)

The first game of 2022 took place in the Far East, where Amur gave its playoff prospects a boost with a hard-fought derby win at Admiral. The Tigers moved clear of Avtomobilist, whose game against Jokerit was called off due to COVID, and remain two points behind eighth-placed Barys in the playoff race.

Initially, the new year started in fine style for Amur. The visitor opened the scoring in the second minute through Alexander Sharov and doubled its lead with Alexander Gorshkov’s power play goal late in the first period. The middle frame brought two more quick goals for Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov and David Tomasek.

Belatedly, Admiral found its game. Josh Kestner and Vladislav Ushenin got it back to 2-4. However, Grebenshchikov’s second of the afternoon slowed the fightback and Dinar Khamidullin’s effort late in the second period was not enough to change the direction of the game.

Early in the third, Amur had a chance to kill it off with a 5-on-3 power play, but Admiral held firm. Later, Dmitry Sayustov had a great chance to put the home team back in the game, but his rush was so fast that the puck could not keep up with him. After that, the Tigers closed down the game and secured their first victory of the year.

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Kvartalnov’s 800th game

Sibir Novosibirsk 2 Ak Bars Kazan 6 (1-1, 1-2, 0-3)

Dmitry Kvartalnov celebrated his 800th game as a head coach in the KHL with a comfortable victory at Sibir. The long serving coach is the first to reach that landmark in the league’s history and stands way out in front in the all-time list. Against a Sibir team in decent form, he was without veteran Danis Zaripov, who was also due to make his 800th KHL appearance.

Kvartalnov is well known in Novosibirsk, where he had two seasons as head coach before moving to CSKA. But any plans the home team had laid to frustrate him today were thrown into disarray after just 19 seconds when Nikolai Kovalenko opened the scoring. After that, though, Ak Bars ran into penalty trouble and the second power play of the game enabled Vyacheslav Litovchenko to tie the game in the ninth minute. The visitor continued to have the better of the play in the opening frame, but the game remained deadlocked until the intermission.

After the break, the home team tried to raise the tempo but Sibir was unable to turn that improvement into goals, despite Michal Cajkovsky ringing the iron in the 26th minute. Midway through the frame JC Lipon’s wildly misplaced pass enabled Dmitry Kagarlitsky to restore Ak Bars’ lead. Right after that, Steven Kampfer made it 3-1. Another power play chance for Sibir helped to reduce the deficit, though, with Anton Shenfeld on target after Jason Demers was called for tripping.

Whoever got the jump at the start of the third was likely to go on and win the game, and Jordan Weal grabbed the all-important goal for Ak Bars in the 43rd minute. Then came a flurry of penalties, leading to Kagarlitsky getting his second of the game, this time on the power play. Kazan has struggled with its special teams this season, so this marker was especially welcome as evidence of a new year resolution successfully applied. In the closing stages, Artyom Galimov wrapped up a convincing victory on Kvartalnov’s big day.

Maillet’s OT winner puts Metallurg back on top

Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4 OT (0-0, 2-3, 1-0, 0-1)

Metallurg returned to the top of the KHL standings after a topsy-turvy clash in Ufa. The visitor blew a 3-0 lead before Philippe Maillet popped up to win it in the extras.

Although the first period was goalless, Magnitka clearly had the better of the game. The visitor dominated both puck possession and scoring chances, limiting Salavat Yulaev to just five shots on target. However, Juha Metsola kept the opposition at bay.

The deadlock was broken at the start of the second period, though, when Nikita Korostelyov’s hard work on the boards enabled him to feed Andrei Chibisov. The Metallurg forward was all alone in front of the net and this time Metsola was unable to make the save. A couple of minutes later, it was 2-0. This time Chibisov was the provider, setting up Korostelyov. And when Alexander Kadeikin went to the box, Chibisov’s shot deflected off Korostelyov’s skate to make it 3-0.

The home team responded by replacing Metsola with Alexander Sharychenkov, and within a minute Ufa got on the scoreboard. Young D-man Ilya Nikolayev suffered a moment to forget, losing his balance in center ice and presenting the puck to Danil Bashkirov. The Salavat forward needed no second invitation and grabbed the lifeline offered to his team. Then came a power play goal, as Viktor Tikhonov redirected Philip Larsen’s point shot into the Metallurg net.

Magnitka opted not to simply shut down the game in the third and there were scoring chances at both ends. However, when Tomi Lamsa pulled the goalie, we got a tying goal as Bashkirov potted his second of the game with 13 seconds on the clock.

That sent us to overtime, where a penalty on Markus Granlund tipped the scales in Metallurg’s favor and Maillet converted the power play to settle the outcome.

Galiyev grabs winner for Dynamo

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 Dynamo Moscow 2 (0-0, 1-1, 0-1)

Lokomotiv had the better of the play, but Dynamo’s killer touch in front of goal made the difference as the Blue-and-Whites began 2022 by returning to the Western summit after edging a tight game in Yaroslavl.

The teams’ third meeting of the season began with a goalless opening session. Chances were at a premium, with Dynamo’s Dmitry Rashevsky having arguably the best of them early in the frame when his shot was stopped by Eddie Pasquale. Lokomotiv had the only power play of the first period but produced nothing more than long-range efforts at Ivan Bocharov.

The home team generated more dangerous offense at the start of the second period, only to be hit by Rashevsky on the counter. The young forward exploded out of center ice, got away from his marker and beat Pasquale from the slot in the 25th minute. However, Lokomotiv continued to press and got its reward midway through the session when Artyom Anisimov spun onto Maxim Osipov’s pass from the blue line and fired past Bocharov.

The Railwaymen continued to enjoy the better of the game but could not find that go-ahead goal. Then, when Yegor Korshkov sat for hooking, Dynamo took its chance. Stanislav Galiyev’s powerful one timer off Slava Voynov’s feed was enough to put the visitor in front for the second time with barely six minutes left to play. Lokomotiv continued to press in search of a tying goal but was unable to find a way past the impressive Bocharov as the visitor secured the win that returns it to the top of the Western Conference.

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Dinamo too strong for Severstal

Severstal Cherepovets 3 Dinamo Minsk 5 (1-2, 0-2, 1-1)

Dinamo boosted its playoff prospects with a convincing road victory to start the new year. Craig Woodcroft’s team celebrated its second win in Cherepovets this season and moved further clear of ninth-placed Torpedo.

It all started well enough for the home team, with Robin Press opening the scoring on the power play in the eighth minute. However, Malte Stromwall tied it up right away and things quickly went wrong for Severstal after that. Dmitry Korobov gave Dinamo the lead, chasing Dmitry Shugayev from the net on 12:21. Incoming netminder Vladislav Podyapolsky kept the Bison at bay until the intermission, but gave up two goals of his own in the second period as Taylor Beck and Tyler Graovac extended the Belarusian lead.

A power play effort from Kirill Pilipenko midway through the third period gave Severstal a glimmer of hope — and saw Pilipenko improve to six goals in his last six games. However, Dinamo was not to be denied and Artyom Demkov made it 5-2 to seal the win despite Yegor Morozov’s late consolation effort.

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Third-period fightback gives Neftekhimik the edge

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 2 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 (0-1, 0-0, 2-0)

Neftekhimik came from behind to extend Torpedo’s losing streak to four games. David Nemirovsky’s team is now five points shy of the Western playoffs, while the home team remains in seventh spot in the East.

Things started out well enough for the visitor with Kenny Agostino opening the scoring. The American forward has now found the net in his last four games and his productive streak extends to nine encounters. However, of those nine games, Torpedo has lost five and that indifferent run of form is threatening to push the team out of playoff contention.

So it proved once again here. Having got in front, Torpedo was unable to finish the job. Neftekhimik steadily played its way back into the game and finally managed to tie the scores midway through the third period. Ivan Chekhovich’s foul enabled Slava Leshchenko to score on the power play. Leshchenko, who only arrived in Nizhnekamsk last month, has found the net in each of his six appearances for his new team to date. Late in the game, Neftekhimik got a second through Dan Sexton, then withstood Torpedo’s late surge to seal the win.

CSKA ends Avangard hoodoo

CSKA Moscow 3 Avangard Omsk 2 (0-1, 3-0, 0-1)

The season began with these two teams contesting the Opening Cup on Sep. 1, so it was fitting that the first gameday of the new year should bring the rematch. And, after going down 0-4 in Balashikha at the start of the season, CSKA had a point to prove against the defending champion. Not only did that game represent another loss against last season’s Gagarin Cup winner, it was the third game running that the Army Men failed to score on Simon Hrubec in the Hawks’ net.

Initially, though, it was Avangard who got on top. The Army Men handed over the initiative at the start when new signing Vitaly Abramov took a tripping minor. That power play did not pay off, but the next one did as former CSKA man Sergei Tolchinsky converted a Corban Knight pass from behind the net.

Ultimately, special teams would prove decisive in this one. A penalty on Alexei Emelin early in the second period saw Abramov go close to an equalizer. Then, in the 27th minute, Lucas Wallmark tied it up on another power play, stuffing the puck home from the slot after Joakim Nordstrom’s shot. That was the first time in four games that CSKA managed to score on Avangard and it wasn’t long before the Army Men were adding to their lead. A penalty on Peter Cehlarik led to Wallmark and Nordstrom combining for Sergei Plotnikov to make it 2-1 then, 13 seconds later, Alexander Popov scored on his former club to give CSKA a solid advantage going into the final stanza.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though. In a game dominated by power play goals, the sight of Vladislav Provolnev following Andrei Svetlakov into the box was always going to be a huge opportunity for Avangard. And, with 1:07 of a two-man advantage to work with, the visitor duly pulled a goal back when Tolchinsky set up Oliwer Kaski for a one-timer to the top corner. However, the Hawks’ hopes of saving the game took a terminal knock when Kaski was reduced to fouling Abramov in the last minute, putting a damper on the visitor’s final storm and helping CSKA to hang on for a tight win.

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