Jaromir Jagr scored twice and Alexei Cherepanov added the game winner as Avangard Omsk earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in Omsk Tuesday. It was the 7th consecutive victory for the Siberian club and moved them into second place in the KHL, two points behind leaders Atlant Mytishchi, who they’ll face on Friday.
Following a scoreless first period Jagr put home his first of the game just 20 seconds into the second period when he snuck out from behind the net as Dmitri Pestunov tossed the puck towards the net from the left corner. Jagr scooped the puck away from a reaching Vitaly Evdokimov in the Torpedo goal and flipped a backhander under the netminder before he had a chance to reset himself (watch). But Torpedo tied the score at 6:32 when Mikhail Barnakov intercepted a Jagr pass in the Omsk zone and beat goaltender Alexander Fomichev with a wrist shot from the high slot (watch). Just 59 seconds later the Jagr line was victimized again as the visitors took a 2-1 lead (watch).
But Jagr made up for his earlier turnover a little more than two minutes later when he fired a wrist shot past Evdokimov from the top of the right circle on the power play (watch). It looked like the teams would end the period tied at two until Denis Ezhov took down Egor Shastin as he broke in alone on the Omsk goal. Torpedo was awarded a penalty shot for the transgression, and Shastin beat Fomichev through the five-hole to make it 3-2 with just under a minute to play in the period (watch).
Jagr’s line struck again on the power play at 2:34 when Jakub Klepis fired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that bounced up and over the Torpedo goaltender (watch). Then it was Cherepanov’s chance to become the hero when at 5:15 Alexander Popov fed him with the perfect cross-ice pass as he was parked unguarded just off to the right of the net (watch). It was Cherepanov’s fifth goal in five games and stood up as the game winner.
Jagr’s two goals gave him 10 in 12 games, and allowed him to leapfrog over former Ranger Marcel Hossa for the KHL goal scoring lead. Jagr and Pestunov are both tied for third in overall scoring with AK Bars’ Alexei Morozov with 15 points in 13 games. Meanwhile, Cherepanov’s 11 points in 11 games are good enough tie him for 11th overall in scoring in the KHL — with, among others, Alexander Radulov. What’s remarkable is that he’s putting up these numbers in at least two full minutes of average ice time less per game than anyone ahead of him.
After the game Jagr was asked about his role mentoring the young Russian star. He offered glowing praise of the Ranger prospect:
- Rumours about the informal guardianship that you’ve taken over Alexei Cherepanov constantly appear in the press. Alexei himself has now scored in successive games. Confess — is it your work? Has it already come to the point that you’d recommend Avangard’s “Number 7″ to the national team?
- To Team Russia? Without question! Certainly Cherepanov is worthy of playing there. He just needs to be given the chance. Whether it’s my schooling… (smiles) Yes, he plays very well. He works skillfully with the puck, thinks quickly and shoots hard. That, probably, is his main advantage — a first class shot. He’s fast, but very strong. It’s not surprising that he scores many goals.
Tuesday’s game was Omsk’s sixth in ten days, including two sets of back-to-backs, one of which was at their most distant rival Khabarovsk in extreme eastern Russia. They’ll have a couple days to work with their new coach before facing league-leaders Atlant Mytischi on Friday (watch it here, 8AM EDT), then get some significant time off as the schedule gives them a full 6-day break.
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