In a thriller, SKA had too much power and class for Torpedo away in Nizhny Novgorod, weathering the storm to claim an emphatic 6:2 victory in the 2022/2023 KHL regular season.
As many predicted, the two teams immediately set an intense tempo.
Torpedo particularly came flying out of the blocks. After Dmitry Nikolaev had stopped the first shot, the puck threatened to roll over the line, but one of our defensemen managed to react in time and sweep it clear.
Nikolaev was forced into a series of tough saves early on with Torpedo competing at an incredible pace. Nevertheless, SKA were also creating opportunities, and our team struck first blood in the 13th minute.
Alone on the doorstep, Dmitrij Jaskin gathered the loose puck and backhanded it between Adam Huska’s pads.
Unfortunately, a fired-up Torpedo side reacted within 120 seconds.
On the counter-attack, the lively Nikolai Kovalenko stuffed the puck into the left corner after being picked out by Alexei Kruchinin. Following their goal, Torpedo spent the majority of the rest of the first period inside our zone, taking aim from any angle and pressing our players everywhere across the ice.
The manner of proceedings didn’t change in the second stanza.
Buoyed by the loud support inside the sold-out Nagorny Arena, Torpedo laid siege to our net, testing Nikolaev on a regular basis. At point-blank range, Nikolaev pulled off a fantastic save to keep SKA level, as he stuck out his left pad in time to prevent Kovalenko’s rebound from going in.
The game turned on its head with two quickfire SKA goals midway through the frame.
Shorthanded, Andrei Pedan caught Huska cold with a laser after having been picked out on the counter, before Nikita Gusev subsequently took advantage of a powerplay with a trademark wrister from the high slot.
It took Torpedo quite a few minutes to regain their composure. In the concluding shift of the period, Nikolaev once again came to SKA’s rescue, making a couple of challenging saves after a goalmouth scramble had erupted on the slot.
Predictably, Torpedo came out with all guns blazing for the third period.
In the very first shift of the stanza, Nikolaev tallied two superb stops in quick succession, keeping Igor Larionov – son of the legendary Torpedo head coach – and young defenseman Bogdan Konyushkov off the board.
1-on-1, Vladislav Firstov was the next to be thwarted by the impressive Nikolaev, aiming his effort against the pads.
Torpedo were applying overwhelming pressure on SKA. However, the Nizhny Novgorod-based outfit shot themselves in the foot in the 49th minute with a poor mistake.
Lurking unmarked on the doorstep following a Torpedo turnover, 22-year-old forward Nikolai Polyakov expertly redirected Nikita Popugayev’s pass beyond the stricken Huska to score his first KHL goal.
The match practically ended as a contest a mere two minutes later.
Pouncing on yet another defensive error from Torpedo, Gusev sped towards Huska’s net and sent an unstoppable drive high over the blocker.
Incredibly, SKA then grabbed their sixth on a powerplay in the 52nd minute, with Marat Khusnutdinov tipping Popugayev’s intelligent pass between the pads.
To their credit, Torpedo refused to wave the white flag, recording a second marker with around six minutes remaining on the clock as 20-year-old Japanese forward Yu Sato hit the jackpot from the high slot.
That goal gave Torpedo a glimmer of hope. SKA didn’t let that goal bother them, though, calmly seeing out the game successfully.
SKA will now prepare to host Sochi in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Torpedo – SKA – 2:6 (1:1, 0:2, 1:3)
0:1 Jaskin (Gusev, Rukavishnikov), 12.17
1:1 Kovalenko (Kruchinin), 14.20
1:2 Pedan (Khairullin, Khusnutdinov), 29.23 SHG
1:3 Gusev (Khusnutdinov, Nikishin), 30.58 PPG
1:4 Polyakov (Popugayev, Komarov), 48.42
1:5 Gusev (Jaskin, Khusnutdinov), 50.24
1:6 Khusnutdinov (Popugayev, Gusev), 51.50 PPG
2:6 Sato (M. Fedotov, Belevich), 53.39
Goalkeepers: Huska – Nikolaev
Shots: 65 – 41
Shots on target: 34 – 31
Faceoffs: 24 – 29
Hits: 5 – 15
Blocked shots: 7 – 8
Penalty minutes: 12 – 10
Referees: Olenin, Fateev
Linesmen: Vilyugin, Chernyshov
26.11.2022. Nagorny Arena, Nizhny Novgorod.