In an exciting battle against CSKA in Moscow in the KHL regular season, SKA produced an impressive performance, but ended up conceding an avoidable 2:3 defeat.
Showing no fear against the reigning Gagarin Cup champions, SKA immediately made a positive start inside the CSKA Arena, holding the puck well in the attacking zone and forcing the hosts to play at a slower tempo. On the breakaway, Andrei Kuzmenko smacked the crossbar after having too much pace for his opponents, before Evgeny Ketov was denied by a superb save from Lars Johansson at point blank range. CSKA, for their part, created the majority of their chances on the powerplay, forcing Magnus Hellberg into a handful of alert stops - especially when Maxim Mamin almost scored with a wraparound attempt shorthanded. Hellberg was briefly replaced by Alexander Samonov in the closing stages of the first period because of an issue with his left skate.
SKA continued playing with the momentum in the second period. On the powerplay, Vladimir Tkachyov should have opened the scoring, but he could only hit the right post with Johansson beating. Our players were bossing proceedings and, with the stanza having not long passed its halfway mark, they did eventually make the deserved breakthrough. Receiving a clever pass from Anton Belov, Vasily Podkolzin sharply pulled to the crease, subsequently skating past the goalkeeper and sending the puck into the net for his maiden KHL goal.
Nevertheless, despite being second best, CSKA did conjure up an equaliser on the man advantage in the 39th minute, as Sergei Tolchinsky bundled the puck past Hellberg. Moments later, Igor Ozhiganov contrived to take a rather untimely penalty, but SKA had the answer shorthanded, with Maxim Karpov lashing a rasping wrist shot beyond Johansson on the counter-attack. That goal arrived with only 17 seconds remaining in the period.
Unfortunately, that turned out to be the final positive moment of the game for SKA.
With Ozhiganov still in the box, CSKA converted on that powerplay to equalise at the start of the third period, as Lukas Bengtsson inadvertently turned Konstantin Okulov’s pass over the line. Suddenly, the momentum was completely with CSKA, and the hosts subsequently took their first lead of the match with Tolchinsky sending a rasping wrister under Hellberg’s left arm.
SKA threw everything at CSKA throughout the remainder of regulation time. Bengtsson struck the bar, Anton Belov was denied by an acrobatic save, but despite those efforts and Hellberg being pulled for the extra skater, the third goal didn’t arrive.
Our team will now prepare to host HC Barys at the Saint Petersburg Ice Palace on Thursday.
CSKA - SKA - 3:2 (0:0, 1:2, 2:0)
0:1 Podkolzin (Belov), 33.47
1:1 Tolchinsky (Kaprizov), 38.33
1:2 Karpov (Bengtsson, Belov), 39.43
2:2 Okulov (Marchenko, Shalunov), 41.25
3:2 Tolchinsky, 42.13
Goalkeepers: Johansson - Hellberg/Samonov
Shots on target: 19 - 25
Faceoffs: 23 - 34
Hits: 5 - 8
Penalty minutes: 10 - 10
Referees: Belov, Ravodin
Linesmen: Vilyugin, Shalagin
21.01.2020. CSKA Arena, Moscow.