6. SKA, 6 matches, 4 victories, 2 defeats, 22-16 goal difference, 9 points
14. Spartak, 6 matches, 2 victories, 1 overtime defeat, 1 regulation defeat, goal difference 14-18, 5 points
It's certainly been a testing start to the campaign for Spartak. Coached by former SKA boss Oleg Znarok, the Moscow-based outfit were well beaten by Lokomotiv 2:7 on the road in their first game of the KHL regular season, before they subsequently suffered a 0:1 defeat to Avtomobilist. Following those setbacks, Spartak recovered by defeating Dynamo Moscow 3:1 and Salavat Yulaev Ufa 5:3 in impressive fashion, but they couldn't build on those results as they went on to lose 3:4 in overtime to Dinamo Minsk and then 1:2 to Traktor Chelyabinsk in their next two home matches. Spartak play their home games at the CSKA Arena in the Russian capital.
SKA are also looking to get back on track in this match-up. On Tuesday, our players launched a dramatic comeback against Avangard in Balashikha, cancelling out a 0:3 deficit with three second-period goals from Igor Ozhiganov, Linden Vey and Anton Burdasov. However, despite dominating the third frame, SKA contrived to concede a fourth Avangard goal on the powerplay to suffer a disappointing 3:4 setback. SKA had previously won three in a row against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (6:4), Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (4:2) and Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (5:2) after losing 2:3 in overtime to Ak Bars in Kazan. The first match of the season ended in a 2:1 triumph over Neftekhimik away from home.
In the 2019/2020 campaign, Spartak twice beat SKA 3:2 (once in overtime) in Saint Petersburg and on one occasion by a score of 3:1 in Moscow. Nevertheless, in their final meeting, SKA did eventually defeat Spartak 1:0 at the CSKA Arena.
POINTS LEADERS IN LAST FIVE MATCHES
Jori Lehtera: 5 (3+2) points
Emil Djuse: 5 (1+4) points
Martin Bakos: 3 (2+1) points
Miro Aaltonen: 8 (3+5) points
Anton Burdasov: 6 (5+1) points
Andrei Kuzmenko: 6 (3+3) points)
Unfortunately, in a blow to today's hosts, key forwards Jori Lehtera and Lukas Radil are both on the sidelines with injuries. In a key statistic, in the two matches which the pair have missed so far, Spartak have come up short with Znarok noting that the absence of the two forwards played a decisive role in the negative results.
Nikita Besplaov has competed in five of Spartak's six games to date, registering a save percentage of 91.9% and a goals against average of 2.58. As for SKA, Alexander Samonov possesses a save percentage of 90.4% and a goals against average of 2.77, but he was pulled in the first period against Avangard after conceded three markers. 18-year-old Yaroslav Askarov stopped 14 of 15 shots after replacing Samonov.
It's worth pointing out that Anton Burdasov set a new KHL record in the duel with Avangard by becoming the first player in history to score in all of the first six matches of a particular season.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time. Channel 78 will provide a television broadcast in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region, while you can also watch online at khl.ru for a fee. On our official Twitter account, you will be able to follow live text updates from Moscow.