Buoyed by a new power play structure suggested by Jaromir Jagr and a successful early 5-on-3 penalty kill, Avangard Omsk defeated Lada Togliatti by the score of 5-1 today. Four players, including Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov, scored their first goals of the season in interim head coach Igor Nikitin’s debut.
The Hawks put themselves in danger early on when they got called for two penalties, the first at 6:34 of the first and the second only 50 seconds later. But they managed to kill off the two-man advantage and get a power play of their own a half minute later. Captain Alexander Svitov, playing on the first power play unit with Jagr and Jakub Klepis, scored with a deflection of Dmitri Ryabikin’s point shot only half a minute in to the penalty (watch).
Avangard broke things open with two goals in the final two minutes of the period. The first was the second goal for the newly-configured power play unit, by Klepis, on a feed from Jagr at 18:06 (watch). The second was an even strength tally by Viktor Alexandrov (watch), who returned to the third line with Svitov and Igor Volkov, with whom he played in Omsk’s successful pre-season. “I don’t know why they scattered us across different lines at the start of the season,” Alexandrov said after the game, erasing any doubt he was one of the players unhappy with former head coach Sergei Gersonsky. “We compliment each other well.”
Additional line changes including moving Czech Pavel Rosa, who started the season on the left side with Jaromir Jagr and has been steadily dropping down the depth chart, to the fourth line, and replacing him with Dmitri Pestunov. Interim coach Igor Nikitin explained Rosa’s demotion by saying the team hoped to create four equal lines by doing so, but also shared that Rosa will be leaving the team for a week to return to the Czech Republic to attend to some issues relating to his green card. Cherepanov was once again reunited with his opposite winger from the past two seasons, Alexander Popov, with Anton Malyshev still filling in for the injured Anton Kuryanov in the middle. Kuryanov hoped to return to the line up today, but the coaching staff opted for caution. He could return as early as Sunday’s game against Sibir Novosibirsk. Maxim Yakutsenya remains out after a nasty open-ice hit and will not accompany the team on its upcoming road trip.
In the third Volkov got his first of the season at 13:23 of the second off a rebound after nice drive down the boards and in on net by 22-year old defensman and St. Louis draft pick Nikitia Nikitin (watch). John Grahame played a bounce-back game, holding his shut out until the halfway point of the third period, when he was beaten by Evgeni Kvetov on a shorthanded breakaway at 9:10 (watch). But Cherepanov silenced all hope of a late comeback by scoring with a Jagr-like wrister from the right faceoff dot on the power play just thirty-three seconds later (watch). Watching the post-goal celebration, do you think the kid was excited to get that monkey off his back?
After the game interim coach Nikitin gave credit to Jagr for suggesting the power play configuration that resulted in the Hawk’s three goal outburst (mainly posting Svitov on the top unit in front of the net). He also credited the leaders on the team for coming together to offer him their suggestions and thanked them for their assistance in making his debut a successful one.
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