In Saint Petersburg, SKA won the first KHL home match of 2019 at the Ice Palace, defeating HC Vityaz Podolsk 3:1 in a tense encounter.
After taking an initial 2:0 lead, our players allowed Vityaz to claw one back, however the team improved in the third period and eased to a 3:1 victory which keeps SKA in touch with KHL Western Conference leaders CSKA Moscow.
SKA started with confidence in Saint Petersburg. Inside four minutes, Sergei Plotnikov hit the target from a tight angle, before Nikolai Prokhorkin instantly doubled the advantage from point blank range after David Rundblad dished out a superb assist.
However, after eight minutes of play, Alexei Makeev bundled the puck beyond Magnus Hellberg at point blank range when completely alone on the crease.
Buoyed by that goal, Vityaz created problems for SKA on the counterattack, and in the second frame, it took a wonderful recovering challenge from defenseman Vladislav Syomin to prevent Denis Kokarev from taking aim on the slot. At the other end, SKA were testing Vityaz goalkeeper Alexander Samonov on a regular basis, however he was up to the task.
It promised to be a nervy third period, but our team comfortably controlled proceedings, preventing Vityaz from spending time in the attacking zone. With five minutes remaining, Nikita Gusev scored the all important third goal when wristing between the goalkeeper's pads, sealing a 3:1 victory!
SKA - Vityaz - 3:1 (2:1, 0:0, 1:0)
1:0 Plotnikov (Zub), 03.54
2:0 Prokhorkin (Gusev, Rundblad), 05.04
2:1 Makeev (Rendulic, Nikulin), 08.01
3:1 Gusev (Yakupov), 55.42
Goalkeepers: Hellberg - Samonov
Shots on target: 32 - 10
Faceoffs: 30 - 13
Hits: 10 - 20
Penalty minutes: 2 - 4
Referees: Morozov, Ovchinnikov