Avangard Omsk interim coach Igor Nikitin remains undefeated after his team won their third in a row, a 3-2 victory over Metallurg Novokuznetsk, which entered the game today in an unlikely second place in the KHL. Jaromir Jagr got the Hawks off to an early start when he scored just 38 seconds into the game — the earliest marker scored in a KHL game this season. Ten minutes later Anton Kuryanov scored on the power play to make it 2-0.
Metallurg applied pressure in the second period, but goaltender Alexander Fomichev withstood their onslaught. Frustration got the best of them fourteen minutes into the period, however, resulting in just under a minute of 5-on-3 power play time. Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov made them pay, scoring at 15:47 to give Omsk the 3-0 lead and the eventual game winner.
Avangard looked to be en route to an easy victory in the third until they were whistled for a full two minutes of 5-on-3 at 14:01 of the period. Nikolai Semin got the home team on the board a minute and forty-one seconds later, and Metallurg made things interesting with just a minute and a half to play ithe game, when Dmitri Dudarav deflected the puck off the leg of Omsk defender Nikita Nikitin and into the net. With goaltender Maxim Sokolov on the bench, Novokuznetsk applied furious pressure, but were unable to put the puck behind Fomichev, allowing Omsk to hang on for the victory.
Avangard will face Amur Khabarovsk in the first of back-to-back games on Thursday. The game will be available online starting at 4am EDT (and archived afterward at the same address).
Off the ice, the arrival of new head coach Wayne Fleming has been delayed by visa problems. The former Calgary assistant is now unlikely to arrive in Russia until sometime next week. And the Hawks have joined the list of teams vying for the services of Russian star Maxim Sushinsky, who played nine seasons in Omsk, including the lockout year on a very successful line with Jagr. Sushinsky was recently suspended by SKA St. Petersburg (and reprimanded by the league) for critical comments he made about the team in an interview, and is as a result is rumored to be on the trade block. Both Jagr and Bardin have been quoted in favor of bringing the world champion back to Omsk, so it would seem to only be a matter of time before Sushinsky is Siberia-bound.
Meanwhile, Bardin is reaping the benefits of landing the KHL’s biggest fish this summer in Jagr — the Omsk GM has been named General Manager of the Russian national team.
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