2. SKA, 5 matches, 4 wins, 1 overtime defeat, goal difference 19-12, 9 points
3. Avangard, 5 matches, 4 wins, 1 defeat, goal difference 17-6, 8 points
Avangard were initially the only KHL club to remain unbeaten throughout the opening four games of the campaign. However, on Sunday, the Balashikha-based organisation conceded their maiden defeat as they came up short against Salavat Yulaev by a score of 2:3 in Ufa. Prior to that match, Bob Hartley's troops had managed to beat Sibir Novosibirsk (1:0), Dynamo Moscow (2:1), Amur Khabarovsk (8:2) and Metallurg Magnitogorsk (4:0), with the first three of those victories having been achieved at the Balashikha Arena. Avangard are currently based in the city located in Moscow Region while the Omsk Arena undergoes reconstruction.
During the pre-season Nikolai Puchkov Memorial Tournament in Saint Petersburg, SKA endured a tough game against Avangard, losing 1:3 to the Siberian visitors. Last season, Avangard did beat our team 3:2 in Balashikha, but SKA subsequently gained revenge at the Ice Palace by claiming a tense 1:0 triumph in overtime. Vladimir Tkachyov scored the only goal in that particular game with a wonderful individual effort.
It's also worth noting that Avangard do have former SKA faces Maxim Chudinov, Alexander Khokhlachyov and Ilya Kablukov on their books.
POINTS LEADERS IN FIRST FIVE MATCHES
Sergei Tolchinsky: 6 (3+3)
Sergei Shumakov: 5 (4+1)
Reid Boucher: 4 (3+1)
Miro Aaltonen: 7 (3+4)
Anton Burdasov: 6 (5+1)
Igor Ozhiganov: 6 (1+5)
Between the pipes, Emil Garipov has been solid for Avangard to date, starting all five games and recording a 95.7% save percentage, a 1.26 goals against average and two shutouts in the triumphs over Sibir and Magnitogorsk.
As for SKA, Alexander Samonov is expected to start in Balashikha, with the 25-year-old having registered a 92.6% save percentage and a goals against average of 2.00 in his three appearances. Swedish goalkeeper Magnus Hellberg didn't travel with the squad.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is scheduled for 19:30. KHL TV and Channel 78 will provide a live broadcast in Russia, while you can also follow live text updates on our official Twitter account.