SKA took on HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk for the fourth match of this KHL home series. Head coach Oleg Znarok made a number of changes to the line-up, notably relegating captain Pavel Datsyuk to the third line. Igor Shestyorkin and Ilya Ezhov were the starting netminders.
The visitors made the brighter start to the match, forcing Igor Shestyorkin into a smart point blank range save in the very first shift. Neftekhimik continued creating danger on the counterattack, eventually taking the lead when on a powerplay. A goalmouth scramble erupted, no one could find the puck, and Alexander Avtsin bundled it over the line. SKA were struggling, but our players found a response after 16 minutes. Ilya Ezhov failed to hold Yegor Rykov's powerful effort, allowing Jarno Koskiranta to knock the loose puck into the net.
Our players were holding the momentum, but they couldn't find any decent shooting lanes in Neftekhimik's zone. Unfortunately, the visitors earned a second lead when shorthanded. SKA's defence forgot all about Ildar Shiksatdarov on the right flank, with the Neftekhimik forward lashing a one timer beyond the flailing Igor Shestyorkin. Buoyed by that goal, Neftekhimik controlled the remainder of the period. SKA were having plenty of possession, but the away team comfortably kept SKA on the outside.
Nevertheless, SKA came to life in the third frame. Evgeny Ketov grabbed a vital equaliser, scoring with a beautiful backhander when clean through. As time rolled on, Neftekhimik focused more on defence, in turn inviting pressure on themselves. In the end, with four minutes remaining, SKA netted the decisive goal. A juicy rebound fell to the doorstep, where Viktor Tikhonov was waiting to pounce - 3:2. Viktor scored his second after Neftekhimik pulled Ilya Ezhov for the extra skater, before Sergei Kalinin sealed the deal when his pass was deflected into the net by a Neftekhimik defenseman. 5:2, SKA return to winning ways against Neftekhimik!
SKA - Neftekhimik - 5:2 (1:1, 0:1, 4:0)
0:1 Avtsin (Sharipzyanov, Nestrasil), 12.27
1:1 Koskiranta (Tikhonov, Rykov), 16.03
1:2 Shiksatdarov (Kulikov), 22.18
2:2 Ketov (Voynov), 45.45
3:2 Tikhonov (Khafizullin, Kablukov), 55.24
4:2 Tikhonov (Khafizullin, Plotnikov), 59.42
5:2 Kalinin (Gavrikov, Kablukov), 59.52
Goalkeepers: Shestyorkin - Ezhov
Shots on target: 41 - 21
Penalty minutes: 4 - 6
Faceoffs: 34 - 22
Hits: 18 - 19
Referees: Belyaev, Ravodin
17.10.2017. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.