In Saint Petersburg, SKA competed in the opening 2017 Nikolai Puchkov tournament game against HC Sochi. Head coach Oleg Znarok fielded a powerful line-up, with Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Plotnikov all included in the first line. Mikko Koskinen and Dmitry Shikin were the starting netminders.
A packed Ice Palace didn’t have a thrilling first period to enjoy. Neither goalkeeper was called into major action, but towards the end of the frame chances did begin to appear. Mikko Koskinen made a superb point blank stop, before Ilya Kovalchuk had two huge slappers punched away by Dmitry Shikin. Evgeny Ketov had the best opening, failing to beat the goaltender on the doorstep.
SKA came alive in the second stanza, piling the pressure on the Sochi goal. Dmitry Shikin was working miracles for the visitors, pulling off some excellent stops as our players increased the intensity. However, he was eventually left powerless to prevent SKA from breaking the deadlock. Dinar Khafizullin scored the goal, arrowing a pinpoint effort over the glove. Struggling Sochi didn’t help themselves by taking a number of penalties, ill-discipline which resulted in our players extending the lead. Ilya Kovalchuk blasted a one timer beyond the stranded netminder to make it 2:0 on the powerplay, and Patrik Hersley then lashed in a heavy slap shot with another man’s advantage.
Unfortunately, Artyom Tomilin buried a juicy rebound early in the third period to get Sochi on the board. Buoyed by that marker, Sochi started peppering the SKA goal, testing our defence. Nevertheless, Mikko Koskinen was up to the task. He refused to let the visiting team mount a comeback, in turn seeing SKA through to a confident 3:1 victory at home!
SKA – HC Sochi – 3:1 (0:0, 3:0, 0:1)
1:0 Khafizullin (Gusev, Chudinov), 26.19
2:0 Kovalchuk (Datsyuk, Plotnikov), 28.15
3:0 Hersley (Barabanov, Prokhorkin), 32.59
3:1 Tomilin (Dm. Maltsev, Zakharchuk), 46.14
Goalkeepers: Koskinen – Shikin
Shots on target: 35 – 15
Penalty minutes: 2 – 20
Faceoffs: 38 – 25
Hits: 11 – 12
Referees: Oskirko, Kulyov
14.08.2017. Ice Palace, Saint Petersburg.