In the second match of the third round of the 2021/2022 KHL Gagarin Cup playoffs, SKA tallied a hugely important win against CSKA Moscow at the Saint Petersburg Ice Palace, emerging victorious by a score of 2:1 to consequently level the series at 1-1.
Just like in the first game, CSKA scored with their maiden shot on target of the evening.
Andrei Svetlakov took aim from the high slot, the puck took an awkward ricochet back to the crease, and 41-year-old veteran Alexander Popov pounced on the rebound to beat the powerless Lars Johansson.
Our players responded to that setback in the correct manner. In fact, SKA did indeed register a large tally of 16 shots on target during the maiden period, testing Ivan Fedotov from any angle possible. Danila Moiseev came particularly close, thumping his attempt inches over the crossbar when practically clean through.
The second stanza saw SKA lay siege to the CSKA net. Furthermore, it's worth pointing out that Zakhar Bardakov replaced Leo Komarov in the first line with Andrei Kuzmenko and Anton Burdasov.
Applying overwhelming pressure on the Muscovites, our team created a number of wonderful chances, eventually equalising in the 28th minute as Stepan Falkovsky’s attempt from the left faceoff circle just found its way past Fedotov.
Following that goal, CSKA did begin to increase the intensity of their play, but that brief spell of pressing didn’t last for long as SKA subsequently took charge of proceedings.
The hosts deservedly took the lead for the first time in the series with a little over a minute remaining in the frame.
Having noticed that Fedotov was slightly out of position, the lively Nikita Gusev hit the jackpot with a cheeky wrist shot from the left flank.
Moments later, Valentin Zykov should have doubled our advantage, wristing into Fedotov’s glove when on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush.
CSKA were gifted a long 5-on-3 powerplay at the start of the third period as a consequence of two quickfire penalties taken by Zykov and Bardakov.
Those ensuing two minutes proved to be a vital moment in the game. Displaying admirable commitment, SKA put everything on the line, bravely blocking powerful shots and protecting Johansson at all costs. Defenseman Mat Robinson stood out, blocking the puck with his body after his stick had been snapped in half.
Despite requiring goals, CSKA barely tested Johansson in the period, failing to create any real clear shooting lanes with our players successfully winning the vast majority of battles. On a late 5-on-3 powerplay of their own, the home team should have put the game to bed, but Kuzmenko and Gusev wasted glorious chances.
It didn’t matter, though, as SKA expertly saw the match out with rock-solid defensive play – even after CSKA head coach Sergei Fyodorov had pulled Fedotov in favour of the extra skater.
Game three will take place in Moscow on Wednesday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:00 local time.
SKA – CSKA – 2:1 (0:1, 2:0, 0:0)
0:1 Popov (Svetlakov), 01.31
1:1 Falkovsky (Kuzmenko), 27.56
2:1 Gusev (Ozhiganov, Vorobyov), 38.44
Goalkeepers: Johansson – Fedotov
Shots: 66 - 40
Shots on target: 38 - 16
Faceoffs: 27 - 33
Blocked shots: 13 - 11
Hits: 20 - 18
Penalty minutes: 6 - 8
Referees: Birin, Fateev
Linesmen: Lazarev, Savenkov
04.04.2022. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.