MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti)
Three of the KHL’s top teams tasted defeat in a night of surprise results, with last season’s runner-up Avangard Omsk and big-spending SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow all humbled by underdog opponents.
Avangard suffered the heaviest loss Saturday, going down 6-2 to Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, which now tops the Eastern Conference standings with four wins and a penalty-shot defeat in its first five games of the season.
Finnish forward Oskar Osala was Neftekhimik’s engine with two goals and an assist, while Maxim Sokolov played well in goal despite conceding twice, as Avangard led 50-34 on shots.
Three-time KHL MVP and ex-Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov was unable to help his new team CSKA, as the Army Men went down 3-1 in Belarus to Dynamo Minsk.
The hosts dominated 34-17 on shots and secured the win with a third-period strike from Leemu Taine in a result that leaves CSKA fifth and Dynamo Minsk sixth in the Western Conference.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk, soon to welcome lockout signings Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, showed it did not need the help of the NHL stars as it beat SKA St. Petersburg 4-3 on home ice.
The result was decided in a frantic third period that ended 3-2 in Metallurg’s favor with Alexei Kaigorodov scoring the winning goal. SKA is now fourth in the Western Conference and Metallurg eighth in the East.
New team Slovan Bratislava got its first regular-time win in the KHL with a 3-0 victory on the road against Vityaz Chekhov, Slovan goaltender Jaroslav Janus stopping 23 shots for the shutout. The other new team, Ukraine’s Donbass Donetsk, was less lucky but picked up a point after losing on penalty shots 3-2 to Sibir Novosibirsk.
Relocated Lev Prague went top of the Western Conference with a 3-2 win on penalty shots over Severstal Cherepovets.
Elsewhere, Barys Astana recorded its first win of the season with a 3-2 comeback victory over former champion Salavat Yulaev Ufa; Yugra Khanty-Mansiisk beat two-time champion Ak Bars Kazan 2-0; and Spartak Moscow defeated Amur Khabarovsk 3-1.
In Latvia, Dynamo Riga beat Metallurg Novokuznetsk 3-1.
Friday’s two matches saw a 4-3 win for reigning champion Dynamo Moscow against Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, while the reborn Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team suffered its first defeat since returning to the KHL, going down 6-3 to Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
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The self-defense forces in Donbass likely do not have the capability to win. Kiev will simply outlast the republic’s fighters. Ukraine still has many mobilization resources. The most important thing for self-defense fighters is not to win the war but rather not to lose it.