In a pulsating duel, SKA just had too much strength for HC Sochi at the Ice Palace, clinging on to a 4:3 triumph in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season.
SKA made the perfect start by scoring with the opening two minutes. Beating the Sochi defence for pure skill, Yakov Trenin cleverly skated to the crease, pulled to the backhand and neatly sent the puck between Joel Lassinantti’s pads.
However, after competing with power and pace during the opening five minutes, SKA subsequently lost the initiative to Sochi after taking two penalties. In truth, Mikhail Berdin was the much busier goaltender in the first period, notably pulling off a brilliant save to deny the clean-through Igor Rudenkov shorthanded before flashing leather to snatch Marcus Nilsson’s whipped wrister out of the air with Sochi on the powerplay. The Swedish forward had looked sure to score after completely escaping the attentions of our defence.
SKA registered an important powerplay goal in the third minute of the second stanza.
Pulling to the crease, Anton Burdasov unleashed an unstoppable wrister, giving Lassinantti no chance to double the advantage.
Nevertheless, just like in the first period, Sochi promptly took the initiative after conceding. Struggling to keep the puck in the attacking zone, SKA ended up spending the majority of the frame defending, with Sochi applying huge pressure and shooting from any possible angle. Berdin, however, was on top form, making tricky saves throughout the period to protect the two-goal lead. The talented 22-year-old goalkeeper got the fans on their feet when stopping Oleg Pogorishny’s heavy slapper with the tip of his right pad.
The third period turned out to be an absolute classic.
Scoring from the doorstep, Sergei Shmelyov eventually ended Berdin’s stubborn resistance, with our goalkeeping having previously stopped all 24 shots he had faced. Incredibly, Nilsson then appeared to immediately draw Sochi level when batting the loose puck over the line, but it was ruled out by the referees for a high stick.
A moment which proved decisive.
Moments after that disallowed goal, Sochi contrived to concede a third, as Linden Vey’s one timer was deflected past the hapless Lassinantti. Boasting the momentum, SKA then made it four less than three minutes later, with Evgeny Ketov expertly touching the puck in after pulling clear of the Sochi defence.
Down by three goals, Sochi could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel, but the exact opposite happened.
Refusing to give in, the away side contrived to shock the SKA supporters, netting two goals through Daniil Ogirchuk and Malte Stromwall at close range. Stromwall's marker was tallied after Lassinantti had been pulled for the extra skater.
Thankfully, though, SKA somehow held on - largely thanks to Berdin’s heroics - and emerged victorious in a scintillating battle. SKA will now prepare to host HC Dynamo Moscow in Saint Petersburg on Monday.
Puck drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
SKA - HC Sochi - 4:3 (1:0, 1:0, 2:3)
1:0 Trenin (Kuzmenko), 01.28
2:0 Burdasov (Ozhiganov, Tkachyov), 23.28
2:1 Shmelyov (Alexandrov, Rudenkov), 40.58
3:1 Vey (Tkachyov), 46.28
4:1 Ketov (Berdin, Brinkman), 49.01
4:2 Ogirchuk (Pogorishny), 58.06
4:3 Stromwall (Miromanov, Shmelyov), 58.59
Goalkeepers: Berdin - Lassinantti
Shots on target: 19 - 41
Faceoffs: 39 - 21
Hits: 22 - 17
Penalty minutes: 10 - 8
Referees: Kulakov, Raming
09.10.2020. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.