In the day's headline fixture, SKA and HC Jokerit Helsinki met at the Saint Petersburg Ice Palace. Head coach Oleg Znarok kept the team largely the same, only changing the defensive partnerships. Igor Shestyorkin and Ryan Zapolski were the starting goaltenders.
Both teams immediately set a furious tempo in Saint Petersburg. SKA were the more aggressive side during the opening stages, however our players didn't have many clear shooting lanes. Dinar Khafizullin wasted the best chance of the period, blasting off target with the goal at his mercy. Focused on defence, Jokerit barely tested Igor Shestyorkin.
The action was cranked up in the second stanza. Jokerit slowly came out of their shell, forcing our players to do more defending. Unfortunately, they broke the deadlock on 29 minutes. Mika Niemi skated clear of the SKA defence, found himself 1 on 1, and he expertly fired beyond Igor Shestyorkin's blocker. Nevertheless, SKA had an instant response. Sergei Shirokov equalised on the powerplay, knocking a juicy rebound into the net. Nicklas Jensen gave Jokerit a second lead when scoring from the doorstep, but a cunning Vyacheslav Voynov wrister at the blue line made it a 2:2 game after two periods.
To the Ice Palace's dismay, Jokerit earned a third lead of the match in the final period. Antti Pihlstrom's wrister travelled through a number of bodies, fooling the unsighted Igor Shestyorkin. Despite needing a goal, SKA barely had a chance in the frame. The Finnish visitors shut up shop, refusing to give our players a sniff in their zone. However, with only three minutes left, Jokerit shot themselves in the foot. Mika Niemi took a hooking minor, a penalty which allowed SKA to equalise on the powerplay. Sergei Kalinin was the hero, hammering a one timer into the net from the right faceoff circle.
Overtime was required, and that's where SKA came good. Pavel Datsyuk ended the match, firing an arrowed wrist shot under Ryan Zapolski's glove to give SKA a dramatic 4:3 victory against Jokerit!
SKA - Jokerit - 4:3 OT (0:0, 2:2, 1:1, 1:0)
0:1 Niemi (N. Jensen, Gilroy), 28.49
1:1 Shirokov (Hersley), 33.14
1:2 N. Jensen (Norman, Lauridsen), 35.31
2:2 Voynov (Gavrikov, Shirokov), 37.24
2:3 Philstrom (N. Jensen), 47.41
3:3 Kalinin (Khafizullin, Kovalchuk), 57.58
4:3 Datsyuk (Gusev), 61.01
Goalkeepers: Shestyorkin - Zapolski
Shots on target: 37 - 28
Penalty minutes: 6 - 20
Faceoffs: 36 - 23
Hits: 27 - 6
Referees: Naumov, Frano
21.10.2017. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.