The long awaited first game of the 2015/2016 KHL regular season took place today, as SKA hosted HC CSKA Moscow inside the Saint Petersburg Ice Palace. The match was held in front of a completely sold out arena, and head coach Andrei Nazarov opted to put Mikko Koskinen in net. Alexander Barabanov was in the fourth line, and Ilya Kablukov kept his place in the first with Ilya Kovalchuk and Joakim Lindstrom.
After a glamorous season opening ceremony our team immediately got to work, and forced CSKA into taking a few penalties moments in. Yegor Yakovlev was the first to test Stanislav Galimov in CSKA’s net with a huge slapper, and not long later Ilya Kablukov was denied by a smart right pad stop having escaped his marker. The visitors picked up after that though, and they had a couple of ideal opportunities to break the deadlock. A deflected wrister from the point was expertly stopped by the off balance Mikko Koskinen, and our netminder then went on to make the save of the frame. Alexander Radulov found himself all alone on the doorstep, and to his amazement was shut down by a stunning Mikko flash of leather. Tempers predictably began to rise as the period came to an end, and the referees were kept busy keeping the order.
The second period saw the action burst into life, and CSKA took the lead almost straight away. Alexander Radulov crept onto the doorstep, and wonderfully backhanded between Mikko Koskinen’s legs. The Ice Palace didn’t like that at all, and SKA went about wrestling the initiative back. The replying goal wasn’t far away either, as a powerful Dmitry Yudin hit allowed Joakim Lindstrom to skate in and wrist hard into the left corner. The game began to fall away after that though, and CSKA set up camp inside our zone for what seemed an age. Indeed they eventually made their pressure count, as with Yegor Yakovlev in the penalty box Mikko Koskinen was unable to keep a hold of Nikita Zaitsev’s thunderous effort. CSKA were full of confidence now, however a late Jan Mursak foul cost them dearly. Vadim Shipachyov twisted on the right, played it across to the far faceoff circle, and Maxim Chudinov first timed into the net. 2:2 after 40 minutes.
Our guys were becoming experts at coming behind to draw level, and they were faced with that daunting task yet again in the third period. Igor Ozhiganov dumped the puck in on net from the right hand boards, and it took a wicked deflection off Andrei Zubarev to help it in. CSKA never quite looked comfortable with a lead though, and on the powerplay SKA pegged them back for the third time. Ilya Kovalchuk crept in glove side, and caught Stanislav Galimov napping. Ilya could have even given our team a precious lead afterwards, but he couldn’t lift the puck over the outstretched goalkeeper from point blank range.
It ended up going into overtime, and CSKA wouldn’t let the game slip away. Geoff Platt’s initial effort was pushed out by Mikko Koskinen, and the Canadian was allowed to backhand his own rebound in. 3:4, and SKA start their new KHL season with one point.
SKA – CSKA – 3:4 OT (0:0, 2:2, 1:1 – 0:1)
0:1 Radulov (Mursak, Ozhiganov), 20.39
1:1 Lindstrom (Yudin), 22.25
1:2 Zaitsev (Platt), 31.49
2:2 Chudinov (A Belov, Shipachyov), 37.31
2:3 Ozhiganov (Telegin), 44.52
3:3 Kovalchuk (Dadonov, Shipachyov), 47.37
3:4 Platt, 60.25
Goalkeepers: Koskinen – Galimov
Shots on target: 26 – 33
Penalty minutes: 10 – 14
Faceoffs: 28 – 32
Hits: 27 – 16
Referees: Bulanov, Olenin
24.08.2015. The Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg. Attendance 12276.