In the Russian Classic, SKA and HC CSKA Moscow evenly matched each other for the vast majority of the 60 minutes, but the away team clinched a 1:0 win thanks to a late goal from Sergei Kalinin.
As expected, it turned out to be an intense defensive battle between the two KHL Western Conference leaders in Saint Petersburg, and one goal from Kalinin in the 50th minute was enough for CSKA to earn the two points against their biggest rivals. SKA’s lengthy winning streak is snapped after 12 consecutive victories.
CSKA, winners of the 2018 Russian Classic at the Gazprom Arena, made the brighter start in what was a rather cautious, uneventful first period. Spending the most amount of time in the attacking zone, the visitors tested Magnus Hellberg on nine occasions during the opening 20 minutes of play, and Linden Vey came the closest to scoring when his slap shot smacked the crossbar. At the other end, SKA were struggling to gain any kind of momentum, although Alexander Barabanov almost managed to stuff the puck under Ilya Sorokin from point blank range.
Proceedings livened up at the start of the second period. Following another individual defensive lapse, Hellberg bailed the team out with an alert save, before Andrei Svetlakov failed to score when completely clean through. On the counter, Barabanov had a golden opportunity for SKA, however, his wrister struck the right post.
The away team, regaining control of the match, began to press with more intensity as the period progressed. On an odd man rush, Ivan Telegin came within an inch of drawing first blood, smashing the pipe with Hellberg beaten. CSKA boasted a 21-7 lead in terms of shots on target after the opening 40 minutes of play.
CSKA eventually made the breakthrough midway through the third period. Lurking on the doorstep, ex-SKA forward Kalinin made no mistake when receiving an intelligent pass, instantly lashing the puck beyond the helpless Hellberg. In the moments leading up to the goal, SKA had looked the more likely to score, with Jarno Koskiranta and Barabanov threatening.
SKA could, and should, have equalised in the closing minutes. On the powerplay, Miro Aaltonen was somehow denied by a superb Sorokin stop, and Vladimir Tkachyov then missed the net with the goalkeeper down and out. SKA continued pressing, but despite taking another penalty, CSKA held on to the 1:0 victory.
SKA will return to KHL regular season action on Sunday with a home match against Metallurg Magnitogorsk at the Saint Petersburg Ice Palace. Puck drop is scheduled for 17:00 local time.
SKA - CSKA - 0:1 (0:0, 0:0, 0:1)
0:1 Kalinin (Slepyshev, Karnaukhov), 49.07
Goalkeepers: Hellberg - Sorokin
Shots on target: 17 - 26
Faceoffs: 21 - 27
Hits: 22 - 17
Penalty minutes: 2 - 6
Referees: Belov, Gashilov
Linesmen: Vilyugin, Chernyshyov
19.12.2019. Gazprom Arena, Saint Petersburg.