In the concluding game of this KHL away series, SKA came up short against HC Spartak Moscow at the CSKA Arena, conceding a 1:3 defeat.
Initially, SKA made a positive start in the Russian capital, but Spartak soon began creating danger on the opposing slot and it eventually resulted in the opening goal.
Following a boarding penalty conceded by Sergei Plotnikov in the attacking zone, Fyodor Malykhin successfully connected with Dmitry Vishnevsky’s powerful slap shot to tip the puck beyond the helpless Magnus Hellberg.
SKA, however, got back on level terms seven minutes later. Immediately after Miro Aaltonen won a faceoff draw, Andrei Kuzmenko took aim, and he caught Julius Hudacek cold with a low wrister. Buoyed by that goal, SKA instantly started competing with more intensity, but it was Spartak who promptly carved out a lead again as Ilya Zubov took full advantage of a poor defensive lapse.
Requiring goals, SKA applied heavy pressure on the hosts during the second period, outshooting Spartak 15-5. Finding the loose puck on the crease, Evgeny Ketov somehow contrived to miss the target, before Igor Ozhiganov thumped a strong one timer inches wide and Nail Yakupov was denied by Hudacek at point blank range.
Nevertheless, despite SKA’s pressing, Spartak continued to cause plenty of problems on the counter, and Hellberg twice pulled off superb saves when the Muscovites were clean through.
SKA continued dominating proceedings in the third period. Vladimir Tkachyov, who produced an excellent performance with creative attacking play, created several chances for his teammates, with Lukas Bengtsson notably backhanding wide when presented with a glorious opportunity. Kuzmenko and Vasily Tokranov then failed to score with only Hudacek to beat.
Unfortunately, as so often happens in such matches, SKA were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal, as Robin Hanzl notched a third for Spartak on the breakaway. In the closing minutes, Hellberg was pulled for the extra skater, but it made little difference as Spartak held on for dear life.
SKA will now return to Saint Petersburg to host Dynamo Moscow at the Ice Palace on Sunday.
Spartak - SKA - 3:1 (2:1, 0:0, 1:0)
1:0 Malykhin (Hersley, Vishnevsky), 09.15
1:1 Kuzmenko (Aaltonen), 16.04
2:1 Zubov (Karsums), 19.05
3:1 Hanzl (Tsyplakov), 55.10
Goalkeepers: Hudacek - Hellberg
Shots on target: 23 - 39
Faceoffs: 27 - 28
Hits: 7 - 11
Penalty minutes: 4 - 4
Referees: Kulakov, Odins
Linesmen: Sadovnikov, Shelyanin
07.01.2020. CSKA Arena, Moscow.