In Saint Petersburg, SKA hosted HC Dinamo Minsk in the first match since the KHL international break. Head coach Oleg Znarok sprung a surprise in this game, giving 17-year old defenseman Danila Galenyuk a chance in the fourth line. Mikko Koskinen and Jonas Enroth were the starting netminders.
Having had an entire week to prepare for this fixture, Dinamo Minsk emerged the fresher team in the opening frame. The Belarusians crashed Mikko Koskinen’s net, registering an impressive fifteen shots on target. SKA’s defence was committing plenty of sloppy mistakes, but the Finnish Wall bailed the team out. Mikko made some highlight reel saves at point blank range, somehow denying the visitors a goal on a number of occasions. At the other end, SKA gradually warmed into the game as the period wore on. Ilya Kovalchuk came the closest, hammering a one timer into Jonas Enroth’s chest from the left faceoff circle.
To the Ice Palace’s delight, SKA made the breakthrough at the start of the second stanza. David Rundblad’s clever pass found the open Ilya Kovalchuk, who slid the puck beyond the beaten Jonas Enroth. Pavel Datsyuk could have extended SKA’s advantage, but he contrived to backhand wide when in a perfect position. Unfortunately, Dinamo Minsk punished our team for that missed opportunity. Jack Skille suddenly found himself clean through, and he confidently went top shelf on Mikko Koskinen. That goal gave the visitors confidence, as they went on to dominate the period. Vladislav Gavrikov almost gave SKA a second lead against the run of play, with his wrist shot smacking the pipe.
Dinamo took control of proceedings in the third period. Dmitry Korobov handed the Belarusian side their first lead of the game, thumping a fierce slap shot under Mikko Koskinen’s blocker midway through the frame. Holding on to that advantage, the visitors continued to create openings in SKA’s zone. It looked as though SKA were going to lose, but late heroics from Ilya Kovalchuk saved the day. SKA’s number 17 poked in on the slot, sending the match to overtime.
Jarno Koskiranta took a slashing penalty in the extra period, handing Dinamo an ideal chance to finish the contest. Mikko Koskinen prevented them from doing so, however Dinamo did eventually win in the ensuing penalty shootout. The away team scored twice compared to Nikita Gusev’s one goal, sealing their 3:2 victory in Saint Petersburg.
SKA – Dinamo Minsk – 2:3 SO (0:0, 1:1, 1:1, 0:0 – 0:1)
1:0 Kovalchuk (Rundblad, Kalinin), 22.37
1:1 Skille (Korobov), 28.23
1:2 Korobov (Parfeevets, Stepanov), 50.14
2:2 Kovalchuk (Datsyuk, Barabanov), 56.36
Goalkeepers: Koskinen – Enroth
Shots on target: 32 – 39
Faceoffs: 35 – 32
Hits: 22 – 8
Penalty minutes: 4 – 2
Referees: Birin, Bondar
19.12.2017. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.