In a memorable encounter, SKA had too much firepower for HC Barys in Saint Petersburg, earning a highly entertaining 7:4 triumph to get back to winning ways in the 2019/2020 KHL regular season.
It didn’t take long for SKA to break the deadlock at the Ice Palace. Within the opening four minutes, Ivan Morozov found himself clean through with Magnus Hellberg and Kirill Marchenko providing the assists, and he beat Edward Pasquale with a wonderful move to score his maiden goal in the KHL. Nevertheless, despite that early blow, Barys subsequently took the initiative as SKA contrived to take three penalties during the first period. Imposing defenseman Darren Dietz, a recent participant of the KHL All-Star Game, provided a real threat with his direct play, and Hellberg denied him with a spectacular glove save as the period neared its completion. Barys outshot SKA 14-8 in the first period of play.
Barys, unfortunately, continued playing on the front foot in the second stanza and quickly grabbed their equaliser.
Pouncing on a SKA error behind the net, Curtis Valk took aim from a tight angle, catching Hellberg cold. However, just two minutes later, SKA responded with a second goal, as Vasily Glotov’s sharp wrister from the left flank flew past the unsighted goalkeeper.
Barys weren’t fazed, though, as the Kazakhs sensed blood with the SKA defence continuing to make sloppy mistakes. Alone on the doorstep, the unmarked Nikita Mikhailis went top shelf on the helpless Hellberg, before the same player completed a flowing counter-attack to hand Barys their first lead of the match. SKA head coach, Alexei Kudashov, promptly signalled for his time-out.
A time-out which had the desired effect.
Fresh from notching his first KHL goal against CSKA in Moscow, the lively Vasily Podkolzin cut to the slot in powerful fashion, unleashing a low, hard attempt which snuck through Pasquale’s pads. 3:3 after 40 minutes of thrilling play.
If the first two periods weren’t already exciting enough, the third was even more enthralling.
During the second break, Barys decided to pull Pasquale in favour of Henrik Karlsson, but the ex-Jokerit goaltender was beaten by the very first shot he faced as Nail Yakupov wonderfully thumped his attempt under the glove. Having come flying out of the blocks, SKA then tallied a fifth goal with the Barys defence all at sea, as Jori Lehtera knocked the puck over the line.
Holding a two-goal advantage, it seemed as though the game was done as a contest for SKA, but plucky Barys had other ideas. Following a long, drawn out spell of pressure, the Kazakh club halved the deficit, with Hellberg somehow being beaten by a seemingly harmless shot from Corban Knight.
Thankfully, our players weren’t to be denied, and further scintillating goals from Andrei Kuzmenko and Nail Yakupov - with a penalty shot - secured a hugely important 7:4 victory which guarantees SKA's participation in the Gagarin Cup playoffs!
SKA will next return action on Sunday against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod at home. Puck drop is scheduled for 17:00 local time.
SKA - Barys - 7:4 (1:0, 2:3, 4:1)
1:0 Morozov (Hellberg, Marchenko), 03.29
1:1 Valk (Mikhailis), 23.59
2:1 Glotov, 25.57
2:2 Mikhailis (Ohtamaa, Videll), 29.04
2:3 Mikhailis (Shestakov), 32.39
3:3 Podkolzin (Bengtsson), 34.18
4:3 Yakupov (Bengtsson), 40.14
5:3 Lehtera (Belov, Tkachyov), 42.20
5:4 Knight (Maklyukov), 49.03
6:4 Kuzmenko (Koskiranta), 53.41
7:4 Yakupov, 54.40 PS
Goalkeepers: Hellberg - Pasquale/Karlsson
Shots on target: 27 - 37
Faceoffs: 31 - 29
Hits: 17 - 13
Penalty minutes: 6 - 2
Referees: Belyaev, Naumov
Linesmen: Shalagin, Shishlo
23.01.2020. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.