HC Vityaz hosted SKA Saint Petersburg in Podolsk for a KHL match. Following the 5:2 victory against CSKA Moscow, SKA head coach Oleg Znarok opted to make a few changes to the line-up. Mikhail Maltsev was introduced into the fourth line, Pavel Datsyuk was given a rest, and Mikko Koskinen replaced Igor Shestyorkin between the pipes. Igor Saprykin was Vityaz’s starting goaltender.
As expected, SKA immediately took the initiative in Podolsk. Our players calmly controlled the pace of the game, spending the majority of the first period inside Vityaz’s zone. Sergei Plotnikov should have opened the scoring, but he failed to make contact with a superb Ilya Kovalchuk pass. Unfortunately, Vityaz broke the deadlock against the run of play. With a SKA player in the penalty box, Croatian forward Borna Rendulic caught Mikko Koskinen cold five-hole. Roman Horak could have doubled Vityaz’s advantage, however his goalbound shot cannoned off the pipe. Moments after that miss, SKA finally tied the game up. Igor Saprykin couldn’t cling on to Mikhail Maltsev’s effort, allowing Viktor Tikhonov to tap the loose puck over the line. 1:1 after twenty minutes.
Holding the momentum, SKA came out all guns blazing for the second frame. Vityaz found themselves being pinned in their zone, as our players piled on the pressure. SKA’s pressing resulted in a two-man advantage, but stout Vityaz defending kept SKA on the outside. Nevertheless, midway through the period, SKA made their dominance count with a second goal. Twisting to the slot, Alexander Barabanov beautifully beat Igor Saprykin with a rising shot. Deflated by that marker, Vityaz contrived to concede a further two goals. Nikolai Prokhorkin netted at point blank range, before Vladislav Gavrikov’s hopeful wrister sailed through an unsighted Vityaz goalkeeper.
Vityaz made a goalkeeping change before the third period started, pulling Igor Saprykin in favour of Mikhail Biryukov. Sadly, that move had the desired effect for the hosts. Alexei Makeev made it a 4:2 game, shooting into the right-hand corner after a SKA turnover. The home team predictably increased the intensity, testing Mikko Koskinen on a number of occasions. Thankfully, our Finnish Wall was up to the challenge. SKA managed to fend off Vityaz’s advances, earning a thrilling 4:2 victory in Podolsk!
Vityaz – SKA – 2:4 (1:1, 0:3, 1:0)
1:0 Rendulic (Makeev, Rissanen), 13.38
1:1 Tikhonov (Maltsev, Rukavishnikov), 19.37
1:2 Barabanov (Koskiranta), 32.08
1:3 Prokhorkin (Kovalchuk, Voynov), 33.38
1:4 Gavrikov (Yakovlev, Shirokov), 38.46
2:4 Makeev, 43.43
Goalkeepers: Saprykin/Biryukov – Koskinen
Shots on target: 24 – 34
Penalty minutes: 38 – 6
Faceoffs: 30 – 37
Hits: 16 – 11
Referees: Bondar, Sidorenko
25.10.2017. Vityaz Ice Palace, Podolsk.