In a tense battle, SKA managed to get back to winning ways in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season, keeping HC Sochi at bay to claim a 3:1 triumph in Saint Petersburg.
The tempo wasn’t overly high during the majority of the first period. As expected, SKA competed with the initiative and barely allowed Sochi to enjoy possession, however the visitors were proving to be dangerous on the counter-attack with German Rubtsov, Jere Karjalainen and David Rundblad coming close with threatening attempts. Nevertheless, our players did increase their intensity as the frame rolled on, and Emil Galimov broke the deadlock in the 16th minute with a rasping wrister after receiving a clever pass from Malte Stromwall.
Moments later, Stromwall should have tallied a goal for himself as well, but the Swede could only shoot wide with practically only Maxim Tretyak to beat in the Sochi net.
SKA continued competing on the front foot in the second period.
Pinning Sochi in their own zone, our team were beginning to create opportunities at will, and the advantage was doubled in the 23rd minute with Yaroslav Dyblenko launching a powerful slap shot under Tretyak. In full control of proceedings, SKA then made it three on the powerplay six minutes later, as Andrei Kuzmenko lashed an unstoppable one-timer past the helpless Tretyak after Anton Burdasov found him with an intelligent pass.
To their credit, Sochi weren’t prepared to throw the towel in, and Yaroslav Askarov was forced into a series of tough stops at close range as the visitors increased the urgency of their play. In the closing moments of the period, Ivan Morozov was presented with a clear chance for SKA’s fourth goal, but he smacked the right post when completely clean through.
Three goals to the good, everything seemed to be going smoothly for SKA, but Sochi turned the game on its head in the third frame.
Within 60 seconds of the restart, Sergei Shmelyov got Sochi on the board, hitting the jackpot from the doorstep with Askarov out of the picture. Buoyed by that goal, Sochi suddenly began dominating the match, taking the game to SKA with their fast, aggressive approach.
Busy in the SKA goal, Askarov was the difference between the sides, and the 18-year-old’s talent was on show for everyone to see midway through the period as he somehow denied Ansel Galimov on the crease.
Thankfully, with Askarov refusing to concede and the defence keeping Sochi at arm’s length, SKA did successfully see the game out.
The next match will take place on Sunday against CSKA in Moscow. Puck-drop scheduled for 18:00 local time.
SKA - HC Sochi - 3:1 (1:0, 2:0, 0:1)
1:0 Galimov (Stromwall), 15.18
2:0 Dyblenko (Fantenberg, Stromwall), 22.35
3:0 Kuzmenko (Burdasov, Kemppainen), 28.45
3:1 Shmelyov (Petkov, Tochitsky), 40.44
Goalkeepers: Askarov - Tretyak
Shots on target: 25 - 18
Faceoffs: 29 - 18
Hits: 12 - 12
Penalty minutes: 4 - 10
Referees: Ansons, Mochalov
12.01.2021. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.