In an enthralling battle, SKA held on for dear life against Severstal Cherepovets at the Ice Palace, emerging victorious by a score of 2:1 following the first penalty shootout of the 2022/2023 KHL regular season.
Severstal managed to take an early lead inside the opening four minutes.
On the left faceoff circle, Nikolai Timashov decided to unleash a wrist shot, and the puck fizzed under unsighted SKA goalkeeper Dmitry Nikolaev’s blocker.
The away side were certainly the more energetic team throughout the first half of the maiden period. Standing his ground, Nikolaev did well to shut the door on David Dumbadze, with the Severstal forward having sharply cut to the slot from the right wing.
Due to a technical issue, Severstal did make a brief goalkeeping change in the 14th minute with Dmitry Shugaev replacing Vladislav Podyapolsky, but the latter soon returned to proceedings after the next break in play.
SKA gradually began to warm into proceedings towards the end of the stanza. When competing on the powerplay, our players managed to create several clear shooting lanes with excellent puck movement, but Podyapolsky stood tall to the challenge to pull off a series of tricky saves.
Our team continued applying pressure on Severstal in the second period.
Despite taking two penalties, SKA had the vast majority of scoring opportunities, wasting a few glorious odd-man rushes with Zakhar Bardakov, Maxim Groshev and Damir Zhafyarov all being denied by the alert Podyapolsky.
The shot count was indeed 20-9 in our favour following the first 40 minutes. For their part, Severstal were mainly waiting for the odd counter-attack chance to appear, and Nikolaev did really well to keep the difference at one in the concluding minute of the second stanza as he successfully fielded Makar Khabarov’s huge slap shot from the right circle.
Requiring goals, SKA predictably set about pressing Severstal with increased urgency in the third period.
Thankfully, with 12 minutes remaining on the clock in regulation, the equalising goal did appear. And it was an unlikely hero who came to the rescue.
From a seemingly impossible angle to the left of the crease, Nikita Kamalov caught the previously reliable Podyapolsky cold to score his first competitive SKA goal at the perfect time.
To their credit, though, that setback only seemed to galvanise Severstal. Just like at the start of the game, the Cherepovets-based organisation suddenly started attacking with real gusto, flying about the ice with speed and aggression. Nikolaev had to be at his best to keep them at bay, especially during a late Severstal powerplay in which the visitors laid siege to our net.
Overtime was indeed required. Clean through, the lively Igor Geraskin came close to tallying what would have been a decisive second marker for Severstal, shooting against Nikolaev’s left pad after beating our defence with a superb show of skill.
Penalty shots were to decide the outcome. As a result of a goal from Ruslan Abrosimov and four unsuccessful SKA attempts, Severstal earned two match points for themselves, but familiar face Ilya Ivantsov and Geraskin were denied by the impressive Nikolaev.
To our delight, the in-form Marat Khairullin brought SKA back from the brink, netting with our fifth penalty shot before being the only player to score in the sixth round after Timashov had wristed against Nikolaev’s body.
SKA will now prepare to face Kunlun Red Star away in Mytishchi on Thursday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:00 local time.
SKA – Severstal – 2:1 SO (0:1, 0:0, 1:0, 0:0 – 1:0)
0:1 Timashov (Lugovyak, Morozov), 03.08
1:1 Kamalov, 48.24
2:1 Khairullin, 65.00 SO
Goalkeepers: Nikolaev – Podyapolsky/Shugaev
Shots: 72 – 50
Shots on target: 32 – 21
Faceoffs: 31 – 16
Blocked shots: 17 – 18
Hits: 6 – 4
Penalty minutes: 8 – 2
Referees: Belov, Oskirko
Linesmen: Ponamarenko, Shishlo
18.09.2022. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.