In a pulsating encounter, SKA came up short in Balashikha after launching a three-goal comeback, losing by a score of 3:4 to Avangard in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season.
The teams came flying out of the blocks with aggressive, attack-minded play. Unfortunately for SKA, it was Avangard who made the breakthrough within six minutes, as Denis Zernov turned the puck under Alexander Samonov when receiving a pass on the crease. Not long later, Anton Burdasov missed a golden opportunity to equalise for SKA when the loose puck fell to his stick at point blank range, before Miro Aaltonen subsequently sent a rasping wrister off target on the powerplay.
Those misses were punished by a clinical Avangard side.
After the initial shot smacked the post and hit Samonov’s back, the puck rolled across the line, allowing Jiri Sekac to tap it in with ease. Fast forward three minutes and it promptly got worse for SKA, as Zernov whipped a snappy effort into the left corner after robbing Lukas Bengtsson of possession. SKA head coach Valery Bragin immediately made the call to pull Samonov in favour of 18-year-old prospect Yaroslav Askarov after that goal.
A call which turned the game on its head
SKA emerged for the second stanza a completely different team. Moments after the restart, Igor Ozhiganov gave our team something to build on, as his hopeful shot from the right wing snuck above Emil Garipov into the roof of the net. Askarov, making his maiden KHL appearance this season, then pulled off two stunning saves to keep SKA in the game.
A powerplay midway through the frame allowed SKA to get within one goal. At the high slot, Bengtsson had time and space to pick his spot, with his wrist shot being deflected past the unsighted Garipov by Linden Vey. The goal marked the Canadian’s first for SKA.
Incredibly, SKA got back on level terms two minutes later, as the in-form Anton Burdasov - who has now scored in all six games so far - successfully completed a flowing play to make it 3:3 with 40 pulsating minutes in the books.
Despite all of that hard work, however, SKA gifted Avangard a cheap shorthanded goal at the start of the third period.
On the powerplay, Miro Aaltonen contrived to strike an Avangard with his shot, the home team had a rapid counter-attack and Kirill Semyonov turned the puck beyond the beaten Askarov to once again put the Balashikha-based organisation in the box seat.
Throughout the third frame, SKA dominated proceedings and tallied 21 shots on target compared to Avangard’s four, however there was no way past a determined Garipov. Bengtsson, Kirill Marchenko and Vladimir Tkachyov all came agonizingly close to grabbing a fourth goal, as Avangard somehow held on to win 4:3.
SKA will now prepare to face Spartak in Moscow on Thursday. Puck drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Avangard - SKA - 4:3 (3:0, 0:3, 1:0)
1:0 Zernov (Tolchinsky, Kaski), 05.47
2:0 Sekac (Chistyakov, Kaski), 12.11
3:0 Zernov (Khokhlachyov), 15.15
3:1 Ozhiganov (Kemppainen, Ketov), 21.48
3:2 Vey (Tkachyov, Bengtsson), 33.07
3:3 Burdasov (Aaltonen, Kuzmenko), 35.34
4:3 Semyonov (Potapov), 43.02
Goalkeepers: Garipov - Hellberg
Shots on target: 28 - 40
Faceoffs: 37 - 17
Hits: 14 - 3
Penalty minutes: 14 - 6
Referees: Morozov, Olenin
15.09.2020. Arena Balashikha, Balashikha.