In China, SKA returned to 2018/2019 KHL regular season action, taking on HC Kunlun Red Star. Head coach Ilya Vorobyov placed Vladislav Gavrikov, David Rundblad, Alexei Kruchinin, Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Plotnikov in the first line together, while Magnus Hellberg was the starting goalkeeper. Tomi Karhunen was the Kunlun goaltender.
During a tight first period, Kunlun managed to keep SKA on the outside, preventing our team from creating any clear scoring opportunities. The hosts were gradually growing in confidence, and at the start of the second stanza, they shocked SKA by suddenly opening up a shock two-goal lead. Clean through, Brandon Yip beat Magnus Hellberg, before Joonas Jarvinen caught the Swedish goaltender cold with a sharp wrister from the blue line.
SKA were in major trouble, but within the next ten minutes, the team drew level. All alone on the left faceoff circle, Nikita Gusev went top shelf with an unstoppable wrister, and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov backhanded a loose rebound over the line with the goalkeeper out of position. 2:2 after 40 minutes.
Finally, SKA took the initiative in the third period and took advantage of some cheap Kunlun penalties. With the hosts gradually tiring, Andrei Kuzmenko struck gold just after a powerplay had expired, whipping home a superb attempt when 1 on 1. David Rundblad launched a huge slapper past the goalkeeper on another powerplay, and when Kunlun pulled Tomi Karhunen for the extra skater, Oleg Li calmly hit the empty net to seal the victory.
Oskars Bartulis grabbed a consolation for Kunlun with five seconds remaining, but it made little difference as SKA defeated the Chinese outfit 5:3 to get back to winning ways in the KHL!
Kunlun Red Star - SKA - 3:5 (0:0, 2:2, 1:3)
1:0 Yip (Viklund), 21.06
2:0 Jarvinen (Lund), 23.50
2:1 Gusev (Plotnikov, Prokhorkin), 27.21
2:2 Gavrikov (Prokhorkin), 31.18
2:3 Kuzmenko (Khafizullin), 45.12
2:4 Rundblad (Prokhorkin, Gusev), 52.36
2:5 Li (Ketov), 59.45
3:5 Bartulis (Lockhart), 59.55
Goalkeepers: Karhunen - Hellberg
Shots on target: 25 - 41
Faceoffs: 34 - 38
Hits: 21 - 31
Penalty minutes: 12 - 6