In Saint Petersburg, SKA took on HC Jokerit Helsinki for the concluding match of the 2018 Nikolai Puchkov memorial tournament at the Ice Palace. Head coach Ilya Vorobyov brought forward Nail Yakupov back into the first line, partnering him with Nikita Gusev and Pavel Datsyuk. Magnus Hellberg and Janis Kalnins were the starting goaltenders.
Despite a strong attendance inside the stadium, our players made a slow start, handing Jokerit the initiative and allowing the visitors to strike first with Marko Anttila shooting past Magnus Hellberg on a breakaway. In complete control of proceedings, Jokerit were causing SKA an all manner of problems when on the counterattack, testing the goalkeeper on a regular basis. SKA needed a boost, and it came in the form of Viktor Tikhonov – on a delayed Jokerit penalty, the forward launched a heavy slap shot into the net. Nevertheless, Jokerit had an instant response up their sleeves, as Nicklas Jensen slapped a heavy attempt in on the powerplay to make it 1:2.
Finally, SKA turned the intensity up a notch in the second stanza, piling the pressure on the flailing Jokerit defence. The fans could sense an equaliser around the corner, and on 29 minutes, it eventually arrived – twisting inside his markers with stunning skill, Nikita Gusev whipped a beautiful wrister past the stranded Janis Kalnins. Periodically, Jokerit were forcing Magnus Hellberg into the odd tricky save, but the majority of the play was coming in the Finnish zone and with just 30 seconds remaining in the frame, Viktor Tikhonov pounced on his own rebound and clinically went top shelf. 3:2 after two periods.
In the box seat, the hosts continued playing on the front foot, pulling the Jokerit defence apart and wasting a 5 on 3 powerplay as Dinar Khafizullin whacked over a gaping net. As time rolled on, Jokerit pressed with hard and could have equalised, but forward Jesse Joensuu blasted off target when 1 on 1. Jokerit pulled Janis Kalnins for the extra skater in the final minute, however that only resulted in Ilya Kablukov calmly stroking the puck into the empty net to complete a pulsating 4:2 victory!
The ensuing penalty shootout ended in a 1:1 draw with Henri Ikonen and Nikolai Prokhorkin scoring.
SKA – Jokerit – 4:2 (1:2, 2:0, 1:0)
0:1 Anttila, 06.04
1:1 Tikhonov (Zubarev), 09.55
1:2 Jensen, 16.39
2:2 Gusev (Datsyuk, Tokranov), 28.09
3:2 Tikhonov (Kablukov), 39.30
4:2 Kablukov (Ketov), 59.04
Goalkeepers: Hellberg – Kalnins
Shots on target: 33 – 27
Faceoffs: 25 – 33
Hits: 16 – 14
Penalty minutes: 10 – 16
Referees: Vasiliev, Ivanov
27.08.2018. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.