After a six-game losing streak, SKA finally got back to winning ways in the 2021/2022 KHL regular season, thrashing Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk on the road by an impressive score of 8:2.
Yegor Popov initially gave Neftekhimik the lead in the fifth minute on a sharp counter-attack. Nevertheless, SKA quickly conjured up a response, as forward Kirill Marchenko scored two quick-fire goals to put our team 2:1 ahead after the first period. The lively Zakhar Bardakov dished out two assists for Marchenko's two markers.
SKA really did start to run away with proceedings in the second stanza.
In the third minute of the frame, defenseman Grigory Gryaznov tallied his first goal in the KHL for SKA, unleashing a clattering slap shot from the left faceoff circle which was too hot for the goaltender to handle.
Two powerplay goals in the space of three minutes towards the end of the period firmly put SKA in the box seat.
In space on the right wing, Anton Burdasov hit the jackpot with a trademark attempt, before Andrei Kuzmenko tapped a clever pass over the line on the doorstep. It's worth noting that Neftekhimik did not register a single shot on target against our goalkeeper Dmitry Nikolaev in the second period!
The one-way traffic continued in the third frame.
With 45 minutes on the clock, Nikita Gusev tallied his second goal since returning to SKA, calmly sending his effort into the net from a tight angle on the left flank with gifted 16-year-old forward Matvei Michkov making his second assist of the day. Not long later, the excellent Bardakov scored his maiden KHL goal for SKA, successfully connecting with Ivan Morozov's pinpoint pass across the slot.
Neftekhimik made the decision to pull the forlorn Alexander Sudnitsin in favour of Frans Tuohimaa after that goal.
It made little difference to the flow of the game, though, and Kuzmenko grabbed his second of the day in the 53rd minute when knocking Joonas Kemppainen's feed past Tuohimaa from the crease.
However, Neftekhimik did have the final say, netting their second in the 58th minute on a two-man advantage as SKA defenseman Nikita Kamalov inadvertently scored an own goal after Nikolaev had pulled off an incredible stop against Timur Khafizov at point-blank range.
SKA will now prepare to face Ak Bars in Kazan on Thursday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Neftekhimik - SKA - 2:8 (1:2, 0:3, 1:3)
1:0 Y. Popov (Sexton, Galimov), 04.00
1:1 Marchenko (Bardakov, Kamalov), 10.51
1:2 Marchenko (Morozov, Bardakov), 14.19
1:3 Gryaznov (Gusev, Michkov), 22.45
1:4 Burdasov (Gusev), 33.08
1:5 Kuzmenko (Burdasov, Gusev), 36.12
1:6 Gusev (Vorobyov, Michkov), 44.52
1:7 Bardakov (Morozov, Marchenko), 47.51
1:8 Kuzmenko (Kemppainen, Fantenberg), 53.58
2:8 Khafizov, 57.13
Goalkeepers: Sudnitsin/Tuohimaa - Nikolaev
Shots on target: 19 - 33
Faceoffs: 23 - 24
Hits: 32 - 18
Blocked shots: 14 - 13
Penalty minutes: 10 - 12
Referees: Belov, Lavrentyev