In a gritty battle, SKA had to work hard against HC Sochi on the road in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season, showing character and quality to emerge victorious 4:1 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Sochi came flying out of the blocks. Taking SKA by surprise with their aggressive style of play, the hosts created a large amount of opportunities during the first period, with Alexander Samonov coming to the rescue for our team with a series of excellent saves. In the closing moments of the frame, former SKA forward Vladislav Kurbatov looked sure to score for Sochi when practically clean through, but Samonov stood tall to the challenge to keep the former off the board.
At the other end, SKA barely created a chance with nearly all of the play coming in their own zone, and the closest the away team came was an instant attempt from Emil Galimov at the high slot which was stopped by Alexei Krasikov in the Sochi net.
Thankfully, SKA did make a big improvement in the second stanza.
The deadlock was quickly broken in the 25th minute. Collecting the loose puck after Nikita Chibrikov had initially taken the shot, 21-year-old Vladislav Tsitsyura registered his first KHL goal, batting the loose puck under Krasikov.
That goal gave SKA an ideal platform on which to build. In comparison to the first period, our team controlled possession a lot better and protected the puck deep inside the attacking zone, putting together a handful of big chances as Malte Stromwall, Stepan Starkov, Lukas Bengtsson and Oscar Fantenberg all came particularly close.
SKA did tally that all-important second goal at the start of the third period.
On the powerplay, Andrei Kuzmenko doubled SKA’s money, as he calmly knocked the puck in from point-blank range when connecting with Vladimir Tkachyov’s flawless assist.
Requiring goals, Sochi began to commit even more to attack in the frame, consequently giving SKA far too much space at the back which was duly taken advantage of. In the 54th minute, Kuzmenko practically put the game out of sight, completing another flowing move on the powerplay.
In the subsequent play, former SKA forward Kirill Petkov did get Sochi on the board with a searing wrister beyond Samonov’s blocker, but Kuzmenko then grabbed his impressive hat trick just 30 seconds later as he was the quickest to react to a big rebound on the slot.
SKA will now prepare to face Jokerit in Helsinki, Finland on December 30. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 Moscow time.
HC Sochi - SKA - 1:4 (0:0, 0:1, 1:3)
0:1 Tsitsyura (Chibrikov, Fantenberg), 24.22
0:2 Kuzmenko (Tkachyov, Kemppainen), 41.17
0:3 Kuzmenko (Tkachyov, Kemppainen), 53.19
1:3 Petkov (Tochitsky, Mishchenko), 54.26
1:4 Kuzmenko (Burdasov, Morozov), 55.04
Goalkeepers: Krasikov - Samonov
Shots on target: 31 - 27
Faceoffs: 13 - 38
Hits: 16 - 9
Penalty minutes: 8 - 6
Referees: Morozov, Oskirko
28.12.2020. Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi.