In Saint Petersburg, SKA hosted the KHL Western Conference’s bottom club HC Dinamo Riga. Head coach Oleg Znarok gave goalkeeper Igor Shestyorkin a rest for this game, instating Alexei Melnichuk as Mikko Koskinen’s back-up. Janis Kalnins was Dinamo Riga’s starting goaltender.
Despite playing in front of a sold-out Ice Palace, SKA struggled during the first period. Dinamo’s Edgars Kulda was chucked out of the match with a 5+20 penalty for a horrible foul against Mikhail Maltsev, but our players failed to create any scoring chances during those ensuing five minutes. Nevertheless, moments after that penalty expired, SKA did break the deadlock. Hanging in front of Janis Kalnins, Evgeny Ketov tipped Vladislav Gavrikov’s shot into the net. It was the boost that SKA needed, but Dinamo grabbed an instant response. Brandon McMillan found space in SKA’s zone, launching a rocket beyond Mikko Koskinen.
Nikolai Prokhorkin was gifted a penalty shot after he was hacked down, however he couldn’t beat the solid Janis Kalnins. Just like in the first frame, SKA were not finding any decent shooting lanes inside the Dinamo Riga zone. The visitors were calmly keeping our players on the outside, preventing SKA from getting close to Janis Kalnins. Dinamo looked to be in control, but with just one second remaining in the second stanza, SKA struck gold. Nikolai Prokhorkin hacked a loose puck into the right corner, gifting SKA a vital lead before the third period.
Requiring an insurance goal, SKA took the game to Dinamo Riga in the third frame. Fortunately, it came midway through the period. Sergei Shirokov twisted beyond his marker, took aim, and fired an unstoppable shot past Janis Kalnins. That should have sealed it, but Dinamo had other ideas. With just two minutes remaining, Danny Kristo swept a juicy rebound into the gaping net after Dinamo had pulled Janis Kalnins for the extra skater. Ilya Kablukov took a penalty in the next play, gifting Dinamo a 6 on 4 in the final seconds. Mikko Koskinen stood tall to the task though, seeing SKA through to a thrilling 3:2 victory!
SKA – Dinamo Riga – 3:2 (1:1, 1:0, 1:1)
1:0 Ketov (Gavrikov), 15.34
1:1 McMillan (Balinskis, Kristo), 18.19
2:1 Prokhorkin (Kovalchuk, Zubarev), 39.59
3:1 Shirokov (Kalinin), 48.55
3:2 Kristo (Indrasis, Salmela), 58.11
Goalkeepers: Koskinen – Kalnins
Shots on target: 27 – 24
Penalty minutes: 6 – 27
Faceoffs: 34 – 22
Hits: 9 – 8
Referees: Morozov, Soin
31.10.2017. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.