In a tense battle, SKA eventually emerged victorious against Dinamo Riga on the road in the 2021/2022 KHL regular season, claiming a 5:4 victory after a nervy penalty shootout.
Nikita Gusev, Kirill Marchenko and Andrei Kuzmenko all hit the jackpot in the shootout, rendering goals from Jere Karjalainen and Rudolf Cerveny worthless for Riga.
Midway through the first period, Lukas Radil had initially opened the scoring with a rising attempt, before Valentin Zykov cleaned up the loose change on the slot to quickly equalise for SKA.
SKA subsequently took full charge of proceedings in the second stanza.
Ivan Morozov, Marchenko and Joonas Kemppainen - on the powerplay - all netted beautiful goals, completing flowing plays to give SKA a commanding three-goal lead. However, with a mere three seconds remaining in the frame, Gints Meija beat the unsighted Yaroslav Askarov from the blue line with a seemingly harmless shot.
That proved to be a crucial moment in the match.
Fired up, Riga suddenly started dominating the game in the ensuing third frame, and Oskars Cibulskis got the hosts back to within one goal as his effort from distance sneaked past Askarov on the man-advantage. That marker resulted in the SKA management group pulling Askarov in favour of Alexander Samonov.
That decision didn't have the desired effect, though, as the Latvians equalised on the powerplay in the 51st minute with Reece Scarlett converting from point-blank range.
A stubborn Riga side held on for overtime. In the extra frame, Marat Khusnutdinov should have clinched the win for SKA, but he contrived to hit the left post on the powerplay with the goaltender seemingly down and out.
Thankfully, SKA did indeed then get the job done in the shootout to secure two important points.
SKA will now prepare to face Dynamo in Moscow on Friday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Dinamo Riga - SKA - 4:5 OT (1:1, 1:3, 2:0, 0:0 - 0:1)
1:0 Radil (Gromley), 11.30
1:1 Zykov (Robinson, Galimov), 13.12
1:2 Morozov (Tsitsyura, Gusev), 23.56
1:3 Marchenko (Vey), 29.03
1:4 Kemppainen (Kuzmenko, Gusev), 39.15
2:4 Meija (Karjalainen, Cukste), 39.56
3:4 Cibulskis (Darzins, Radil), 42.45
4:4 Scarlett (Shinkaruk, Poirier), 50.59
4:5 Kuzmenko, 65.00 SO
Goalkeepers: Mattsson - Askarov/Samonov
Shots on target: 19 - 38
Faceoffs: 23 - 39
Hits: 11 - 9
Penalty minutes: 14 - 12
Referees: Sergeev, Yudakov