In a tense duel, SKA just managed to keep Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk at bay in Saint Petersburg, claiming a slender 2:0 victory in the 2021/2022 KHL regular season.
In turned out to be a somewhat flat first period. Mainly focusing on defence, Neftekhimik were indeed causing us problems on the counter-attack, with Pavel Poryadin in particular forcing our goalkeeper Lars Johansson into a smart save when sharply powering to the slot from the right flank. Thanks to two fouls from the guests, SKA were presented with two powerplay opportunities, but away goaltender Frans Tuohimaa stood his ground to make a handful of stops. Anton Burdasov had one of our few major chances, thumping an instant attempt wide of the left post on the break-away.
Neftekhimik went on to dominate practically the entirety of the second stanza.
Rapidly growing in confidence, the Nizhnekamsk-based side took advantage of SKA’s passive, sluggish approach, applying pressure on our team and effectively protecting possession in our zone. Thankfully, though, Johansson was alert for SKA, with the vastly experienced Swede pulling off a number of tricky saves at point-blank range. On the powerplay, Danila Popov should have given Neftekhimik the lead, as he could only lash his one-timer against the left post with the goal gaping.
That proved to be the key moment in the match.
Seconds later, the impressive Danila Moiseev sped clean through shorthanded, and he was only stopped by a hooking foul from Neftekhimik forward Rafael Bikmullin. Kirill Marchenko - a shootout specialist - made full use of the ensuing penalty shot, slotting his effort low under Tuohimaa to give SKA a well-needed lead.
The third period saw Neftekhimik continue to lay siege to Johansson’s goal.
To our relief, Johansson simply refused to be beaten, standing tall to all 10 Neftekhimik shots he faced in the stanza and making the decisive saves in the closing stages. Shorthanded, Bulat Shafigullin wasted a glorious chance to draw Neftekhimik level, whipping a strong wrist shot over the crossbar with our players caught horribly out of position.
SKA held on, however, and the lively Moiseev registered his deserved goal in the final minute to ice it, hitting the empty net from distance after the Neftekhimik coaching staff had swapped Tuohimaa for the extra skater.
Our team will now prepare to host Lokomotiv Yaroslavl at the Ice Palace on Tuesday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
SKA - Neftekhimik - 2:0 (0:0, 1:0, 1:0)
1:0 Marchenko, 37.34 PS
2:0 Moiseev, 59.43
Goalkeepers: Johansson - Tuohimaa
Shots on target: 28 - 27
Faceoffs: 18 - 18
Hits: 9 - 22
Penalty minutes: 6 - 6
Referees: Akuzovsky, Ansons
03.10.2021. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.