After an eight-game losing streak, Dinamo Riga urgently needed a pick-me-up – and Carter Ashton duly obliged with two goals to set his team on the road to victory against Dinamo Minsk.
Ashton’s goals came in a whirlwind opening 10 minutes of this game as the Latvians jumped to a 3-1 lead. The Canadian hadn’t scored since the first game of the season but he began by grabbing a power play goal in the fourth minute after an Oskars Bartulis shot bounced back off the boards.
Then came two goals in 11 seconds. Kristaps Sotnieks went around the back of the Minsk net and fed Gints Meija for a shot that whipped past debutant goalie Nikita Tolopilo, but at the other end Marc-Andre Gragnani set up fellow blue liner Vladislav Yeryomenko for his first KHL goal. Ashton provided a swift response, though, firing home from the slot after Meija’s rapid break down the left.
That might have spelled the end for Tolopilo, but Craig Woodcroft kept faith with the 19-year-old and the youngster grew into the game. Minsk also looked to take the action to the opposition, especially in a one-sided final frame that saw Riga limited to a solitary shot on goal. However, a power play goal from Andrei Kostitsyn was the only reward as Riga held on to take the verdict.