At the Ice Palace, SKA eventually managed to comfortably see off the challenge of Amur Khabarovsk, coasting to a routine 5:1 victory in the 2021/2022 KHL regular season.
In truth, it was a somewhat slow start to proceedings, with not many clear openings being witnessed in the first period. SKA did take the lead in the 13th minute, though, as Anton Burdasov sent a clattering one-timer beyond Patrik Bartosak from the left faceoff circle on the powerplay.
Bartosak had made a handful of tricky saves to deny Andrei Kuzmenko, Kirill Kirsanov and Joonas Kemppainen in the preceding shifts.
Towards the end of the frame, Amur began to test Yaroslav Askarov - who was making his season debut for our senior team - in our net more often, as they did commit bodies to attack when spending time inside our zone. David Tomasek passed up a major opportunity when cleverly pulling clean through, knocking the puck against the emerging Askarov.
SKA went on to double their money at the start of the second stanza. Escaping the attention of the Amur defence, Igor Ozhiganov had plenty of time to pick his spot from the crease, going top-shelf on Bartosak.
Nevertheless, despite that setback, Amur rapidly began to improve.
With our players often carelessly losing possession, the Khabarovsk outfit were allowed to gain a foothold in the game, as they spent more time inside our zone and began to test Askarov on a regular basis.
Their goal arrived on the powerplay in the 30th minute. On the doorstep, Danil Fayzullin gathered the loose puck and beat Askarov with a snappy attempt.
Amur were feeling more and more comfortable at the Ice Palace as the period progressed. However, in the concluding minute of the frame, SKA tallied a vital third goal on the powerplay as Burdasov gave Bartosak no chance with a rocket from the right faceoff circle. Brilliant movement from 16-year-old Matvei Michkov played a big role in the goal as he took practically the entire Amur defence out of the game.
That goal virtually killed the match as a contest.
Unlike the second period, our players were now in full control of proceedings again, and Kirill Marchenko tallied our third powerplay marker of the day in the 45th minute as he made no mistake when alone on the doorstep.
Nine minutes later, Joonas Kemppainen added his name to the scoreboard, calmly slotting the puck into the gaping net with Amur goalkeeper Bartosak caught horribly out of position.
In the closing stages, Askarov made a series of solid saves when under pressure, in turn seeing SKA safely through to what turned out to be a confident triumph.
SKA will now prepare to host Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Saint Petersburg on Thursday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
SKA - Amur - 5:1 (1:0, 2:1, 2:0)
1:0 Burdasov (Kuzmenko, Khusnutdinov), 12.35
2:0 Ozhiganov (Vorobyov), 21.18
2:1 Fayzullin (Gorshkov, Tereshchenko), 29.34
3:1 Burdasov (Ozhiganov, Kuzmenko), 39.29
4:1 Marchenko (Vorobyov, Handemark), 44.58
5:1 Kemppainen (Kuzmenko, Burdasov), 53.46
Goalkeepers: Askarov - Bartosak
Shots on target: 21 - 18
Faceoffs: 38 - 19
Hits: 13 - 17
Penalty minutes: 6 - 12
Referees: Birin, Gamaley
21.09.2021. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.