In a highly dramatic encounter, SKA came up short against HC Lokomotiv in Yaroslavl, conceding a narrow 1:2 defeat with the winning goal arriving just 26 seconds before the final buzzer.
SKA enjoyed an excellent first period inside the atmospheric Arena-2000.
Starting the game with real intent, our players immediately took the initiative, with Ivan Morozov, Igor Ozhiganov and Miro Aaltonen all coming close to an opener when taking aim from close range. The visitors did indeed make their positive start count midway through the first period.
Shorthanded, the unmarked Joonas Kemppainen found himself clean through after receiving an intelligent pass, and our forward clinically went five-hole on Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ilya Konovalov.
Lokomotiv should have really equalised in the subsequent play. However, with the goal at his mercy and Alexander Samonov already out of the picture, Anton Lander contrived to blast wide from a tight angle on the left flank after collecting a big rebound.
The hosts mainly tested Samonov in the SKA net with threatening wrist shots from the high slot. On the counter-attack, SKA were continuing to cause Lokomotiv an all manner of problems, and Kemppainen and Malte Stromwall drew tough saves out of Konovalov with strong wristers.
Lokomotiv made a notable improvement in the second stanza.
As the period progressed, the Yaroslavl-based organisation began to boss proceedings, applying heavy, incessant pressure on SKA with their aggressive approach. Unfortunately, moments after SKA had killed a penalty, Rushan Rafikov equalised for Lokomotiv with a bullet of a wrist shot from the left wing in the 32nd minute of proceedings.
SKA were living on the edge throughout the remainder of the period, as Lokomotiv continued to create opportunities at will with their slick play.
Thankfully, though, Samonov was on his game, as our goalkeeper pulled off a series of wonderful saves at point-blank range to keep the score level.
The tension inside the stadium increased even further in the third period.
It seemed as though Samonov was indeed going to take the game to overtime as he kept on making incredible saves. However, with a mere 24 seconds remaining on the clock, Lokomotiv took the lead out of nothing as Pavel Kraskovsky knocked Yegor Korshkov’s low feed over the line after a sloppy turnover at neutral ice.
In the final second of play, SKA did almost salvage an unlikely point, but the puck trickled past the right post after Igor Ozhiganov had taken aim and the buzzer did sound.
SKA will now prepare to face Kunlun Red Star in Mytishchi on Monday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 17:00 local time.
Lokomotiv - SKA - 2:1 (0:1, 1:0, 1:0)
0:1 Kemppainen (Ketov, Belov), 10.18
1:1 Rafikov (Kraskovsky), 31.41
2:1 Kraskovsky (Korshkov), 59.34
Goalkeepers: Konovalov - Samonov
Shots on target: 36 - 31
Faceoffs: 32 - 23
Hits: 19 - 23
Penalty minutes: 6 - 10
Referees: Olenin, Odins
20.02.2021. Arena-2000, Yaroslavl.