In a true thriller, SKA showed admirable character at the Arena 2000 against Lokomotiv, earning a pulsating 3:2 victory on the road in the 2022/2023 KHL regular season.
Lokomotiv certainly started with intent on home ice.
The hosts thought that they had taken the lead in the fourth minute. However, following a lengthy video review, it was determined that Georgy Ivanov had tipped the puck beyond SKA goaltender Dmitry Nikolaev with a high stick.
Nikolaev was indeed much the busier goaltender during the first period, making a total of 11 saves in the maiden 20 minutes with Lokomotiv competing on the front foot.
Nevertheless, SKA struck on the powerplay with their first big chance of the day in the 19th minute.
Initially, Marat Khairullin’s fierce wrister from the left faceoff circle was stopped by home goalkeeper Daniil Isaev, but Valentin Zykov was on hand to bat the ensuing rebound over the line. The goal was given following another video review concerning a potential high stick.
To their credit, Lokomotiv didn’t let that setback affect them.
The Yaroslavl-based outfit continued applying huge pressure on our team throughout the entirety of the second period. In the fourth minute of the stanza, the hosts did tally their equalising goal, as Maxim Shalunov caught Nikolaev cold from a tight angle on the left flank after our defenseman Daniil Pylenkov had carelessly lost possession behind the net.
The vast majority of the play was witnessed in our zone in the frame, with Lokomotiv protecting possession effectively, testing Nikolaev on a regular basis and drawing a couple of penalties out of our team.
Lokomotiv did take their first lead with around two minutes left in the frame.
Swinging for a sharp wraparound, the lively Shalunov managed to squeeze his sneaky effort under Nikolaev’s outstretched left pad.
Lokomotiv would have felt that they had richly deserved that go-ahead goal. But, even though they had been largely outplayed for the first 40 minutes, SKA came out all guns blazing for the third period and wrestled the momentum from hosts.
The decisive moment of proceedings arrived in the 49th minute.
On Nikolaev’s crease, Yegor Korshkov suddenly decided to slash against Mikhail Pedan, a foul which was rightly punished with a 5+20 penalty.
That paved the way for our players to get back on level terms.
Unmarked on the left faceoff circle, the in-form Marat Khairullin picked his spot and sent an unstoppable wrist shot high over Isaev’s left arm.
The remainder of the period saw both teams compete in a cautious manner without taking any unnecessary risks. Overtime looked on the cards but, with a mere 75 seconds remaining on the clock, Damir Zhafyarov conjured up a moment of magic to strike a dagger through Lokomotiv hearts.
Our number 88 picked out Mikhail Vorobyov with a stunning pass from the right wing, who calmly tapped the puck into the open net with Isaev caught out of position.
In the concluding plays, Lokomotiv did use their time-out and pull Isaev in favour of the extra skater, but to no avail as SKA bravely held on.
SKA will now prepare to face Dynamo in Moscow on Friday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:00 local time.
Lokomotiv – SKA – 2:3 (0:1, 2:0, 0:2)
0:1 Zykov (Khairullin, Ozhiganov), 18.12 PPG
1:1 Shalunov, 23.52
2:1 Shalunov (Kayumov), 37.47
2:2 Khairullin (Ozhiganov), 51.49 PPG
2:3 Vorobyov (Zhafyarov, Pedan), 58.45
Goalkeepers: Isaev – Nikolaev
Shots: 69 – 43
Shots on target: 36 – 29
Faceoffs: 46 – 22
Blocked shots: 9 – 20
Hits: 20 – 25
Penalty minutes: 35 – 10
Referees: Ovchinnikov, Sidorenko
Linesmen: Polyakov, Shelyanin
14.09.2022. Arena 2000, Yaroslavl.