Game two. SKA – Torpedo – 5:4
In a pulsating second match of the 2022/2023 KHL Gagarin Cup playoffs, SKA had enough to keep Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod at bay in Saint Petersburg, holding on to win 5:4 and take a 2-0 series advantage.
The memorable action begun immediately. Shorthanded, Alexei Belevich whipped the puck home after his pass towards an onrushing teammate had been intercepted, before Vasily Glotov quickly equalised when speeding to the slot from the right flank.
We took our maiden lead of the afternoon in the 15th minute.
When completing a flowing play on the counter-attack, Mikhail Vorobyov calmly backhanded over Ivan Kulbakov’s glove. Kulbakov had pulled off a tough stop to shut the door on Nikita Gusev not long earlier.
The end-to-end ice hockey continued in the second stanza.
Artyom Mikheev equalised for the Nizhny Novgorod-based organisation moments after a Torpedo penalty had expired, calmly tapping the puck into the left corner having escaped his marker.
Nevertheless, that setback didn’t affect our team, with Emil Galimov promptly reinstating our advantage when going top-shelf on Kulbakov.
Nikita Kamalov doubled our money five minutes later, bundling the puck in off Kulbakov’s pads from a tight angle on the left wing while playing 4-on-4. Torpedo weren’t about to wave the white flag, though, grabbing their third in the 35th minute with the lively Belevich knocking the rebound home with Dmitry Nikolaev unsighted in our net.
Gusev fired under Kulbakov’s blocker from the left faceoff circle to conjure up another response for SKA. However, plucky Torpedo once again got back to within one before a stunning second period was out, as Nikolai Kovalenko sped clean through when competing on the powerplay and carefully backhanded high past Nikolaev.
SKA subsequently struggled in the third frame. Putting sharp, intelligent passing plays together, Torpedo carved our defence open time and time again. Former SKA forward Alexei Kruchinin wasted Torpedo’s best opportunity, hooking the puck wide of the right corner with only Nikolaev left to beat.
The visiting team were piling the pressure on with increased intensity as the minutes ticked by. Predictably, Torpedo pulled Kulbakov in favour of the extra skater in the closing two minutes, but our players successfully kept them at bay with committed defensive play.
Nikolaev atoned for a late error, making a vital save in the final second after Torpedo had won a faceoff draw as a consequence of our goaltender having iced the puck.
Game three will take place in Nizhny Novgorod on Monday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
SKA – Torpedo – 5:4 (2:1, 3:3, 0:0)
0:1 Belevich (Sizov), 02.38 SHG
1:1 Glotov (Khairullin, Zhafyarov), 06.12
2:1 Vorobyov (Zykov, Volkov), 14.40
2:2 Mikheev (Fedotov, Voronin), 26.05
3:2 Galimov (Prokhorkin), 26.52
4:2 Kamalov (Khairullin, Glotov), 31.23
4:3 Belevich (Konyushkov, Vinogradov), 34.30
5:3 Gusev (Kamalov, Jaskin), 35.35
5:4 Kovalenko (Kruchinin), 39.27 PPG
Goalkeepers: Nikolaev – Kulbakov
Shots: 62 – 50
Shots on target: 37 – 29
Faceoffs: 35 – 25
Hits: 10 – 7
Blocked shots: 13 – 10
Penalty minutes: 6 – 12
Referees: Kulakov, Fateev
Linesmen: Stroganov, Sysuev
18.03.2023. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.