In a nervy, tense battle, SKA held on against HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in Saint Petersburg, emerging victorious by a score of 2:1 after recovering from conceding the first goal in the early stages.
The two teams immediately came out with plenty of aggression. Initially, Torpedo spent more time in the attacking zone, forcing Yaroslav Askarov into a superb left-pad save as the 18-year-old goaltender denied Danil Voevodin at point blank range. Nevertheless, SKA quickly began creating clear opportunities too, with Vladimir Tkachyov, Miro Aaltonen and Lukas Bengtsson all forcing opposing goalkeeper Andrei Tikhomirov into alert stops. Ivan Morozov then contrived to miss the target altogether when completely alone on the crease.
Torpedo managed to make the breakthrough with 17 minutes on the clock.
Unmarked at the high slot, Vadim Pereskokov gave Askarov no chance, thumping a rocket over the blocker to give the visitors the lead. Not long after that, Torpedo could have doubled their money on the powerplay, but Askarov came up trumps for SKA with a series of excellent saves to keep the difference at one.
SKA did eventually increase their intensity in the second half of the second stanza after surviving a Torpedo onslaught.
An improvement which was rewarded by an equalising goal.
Just like in the previous game against Spartak in Moscow, Tkachyov was completely ignored on the left faceoff circle by the opponents when on the powerplay, and the gifted forward promptly smashed a one timer beyond Tikhomirov.
All of a sudden, our players started competing with infections pace and energy, and we only had five minutes to wait for the go-ahead goal. When approaching the crease with intent, Kirill Marchenko caught Tikhomirov napping with a high, whipped wrister, a goal which marked his maiden marker of the 2020/2021 campaign. At the other end, Torpedo continued to test Askarov on a regular basis, however our goalkeeper stood tall to the task. A wonderful flash of leather to deny Daniil Ilin was particularly appreciated by the supporters.
Torpedo, naturally, played on the front foot throughout the third period as they searched for a way back into the game.
The visitors were presented with a perfect chance to equalise midway through the frame. With only Askarov to beat, former SKA forward Mikhail Varnakov looked set to net Torpedo’s second of the day, but he could only fire directly into the goaltender’s chest.
SKA were largely relying on counter-attacks with Torpedo boasting the majority of possession. After Tikhomirov had been pulled for the extra skater, Chris Wideman almost sent the game into overtime with a scorching slap shot in the dying seconds, but the puck crashed over the crossbar and SKA could begin to celebrate a gritty 2:1 triumph!
The next game will take place on Wednesday 23 September against Sibir Novosibirsk at the Ice Palace. Puck drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
SKA - Torpedo - 2:1 (0:1, 2:0, 0:0)
0:1 Pereskokov (Voevodin), 16.36
1:1 Tkachyov (Morozov, Bengtsson), 30.42
2:1 Marchenko (Bengtsson, Morozov), 35.03
Goalkeepers: Askarov - Tikhomirov
Shots on target: 31 - 30
Faceoffs: 36 - 22
Hits: 11 - 15
Penalty minutes: 16 - 6
Referees: Romasko, Sergeev
20.09.2020. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.