In a blockbuster battle, SKA earned a hugely important triumph against Ak Bars Kazan on the road in Tatarstan in the 2021/2022 KHL regular season, emerging victorious by a score of 4:3 in overtime.
Ak Bars immediately earned a 5-on-3 powerplay in the maiden minutes after our forwards Zakhar Bardakov and Joonas Kemppainen were sent to the penalty box in quick succession. On a mad goalmouth scramble, Dmitry Kagarlitsky bundled the puck over the line but, after a coach’s challenge from our coaching staff, the goal was rightly disallowed for goaltender interference.
Goaltender Dmitry Nikolaev pulled off a series of tough saves during the opening half of the first period. To our delight, SKA rode the storm well, and Andrei Kuzmenko promptly gave our team the lead in the 13th minute as he displayed incredible skill to score a beautiful goal on the slot.
Tempers were seriously high throughout an emotional first stanza which was full of drive. In the closing seconds of the period, Anton Burdasov missed a golden opportunity on the powerplay for SKA, unleashing a powerful one-timer which crashed past Timur Bilyalov’s right post.
SKA took a firm grip of proceedings in the second stanza as Ak Bars ran into major penalty trouble.
On the powerplay in the 27th minute, Burdasov did manage to hit the jackpot this time around, connecting with Nikita Gusev’s intelligent pass across the crease to get the better of the stricken Bilyalov.
That advantage was promptly extended to three eight minutes later.
When clean through, Gusev appeared to have been denied by Bilyalov but, with the puck rolling across the line, Mat Robinson arrived on the scene in time to tap it in.
Everything looked to be going swimmingly for SKA. However, Ak Bars had other ideas, and Nikita Dynyak got the Tatar hosts on the board not long later as he went top-shelf on Nikolaev from the high slot. Our coaching staff did challenge the marker for goaltender interference, but it was declared a clean goal after a quick video review.
Unfortunately, SKA were consequently punished for delaying the game as a result of that failed coach’s challenge, and Steven Kampfer grabbed Ak Bars’ second on the ensuing powerplay with a rocket from the blue line.
Ak Bars were riding on the crest of a wave.
The home team did indeed equalise in the fifth minute of the third period. Unmarked on the crease, Jordan Weal pounced on a golden opportunity after being found by a pinpoint pass from former SKA defenseman Dmitry Yudin, sliding the puck into the right corner with Nikolaev out of the picture.
Not long later, Robinson thought that he had given SKA the advantage again when beating Bilyalov with a rising wrister from the blue line, however the goal was wiped off following a coach’s challenge from Ak Bars.
The pendulum had swung Ak Bars’ way. Nevertheless, SKA displayed remarkable composure and poise to not panic at all, continuing to apply pressure on the Tatars and not letting them play on the front foot.
In the concluding minutes of the third frame, Valentin Zykov came to the rescue for us, making a vital interception with Ak Bars skating away on an odd-man rush.
SKA deservedly delivered the decisive blow to Ak Bars in the ensuing overtime period.
After failing to use an early powerplay in the extra frame, SKA did register the all-important winner in the 63rd minute, with Gusev ripping a whipped wrist shot under Bilyalov’s blocker.
SKA will now prepare to host Severstal Cherepovets in Saint Petersburg on Monday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Ak Bars - SKA - 3:4 OT (0:1, 2:2, 1:0, 0:1)
0:1 Kuzmenko (Burdasov, Kemppainen), 12.41
0:2 Burdasov (Kuzmenko, Gusev), 26.54
0:3 Robinson (Gusev, Moiseev), 34.16
1:3 Dynyak (Voronkov, Zhuravlyov), 35.39
2:3 Kampfer (Zaripov, Kagarlitsky), 37.25
3:3 Weal (Yudin, Luchevnikov), 44.27
3:4 Gusev (Vorobyov, Morozov), 63.09
Goalkeepers: Bilyalov - Nikolaev
Shots on target: 30 - 38
Faceoffs: 26 - 45
Hits: 6 - 8
Blocked shots: 13 - 8
Penalty minutes: 16 - 12
Referees: Birin, Olenin
25.11.2021. Tatneft Arena, Kazan, Tatarstan.