In Podolsk, SKA had to show all of their class and strength against a physical Vityaz side, defeating the opponents 3:1 on the road in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season.
Our players caught the eye with a high-quality showing in the first period. Controlling the match with excellent puck possession, the visitors barely allowed Vityaz a chance to catch their breath, spending a lot of time inside the attacking zone and creating several chances.
The deadlock was broken in the eighth minute of proceedings. Alone between the faceoff circles, Igor Ozhiganov had enough time to pick his spot, and our defenseman sent an unstoppable wrist shot high over Anton Todykov’s glove.
Ozhiganov, Andrei Kuzmenko, Ivan Morozov and Malte Stromwall all came close to a second in the opening frame, with Vityaz regularly struggling to clear their lines.
SKA continued to dictate the tempo in the second stanza. However, with 27 minutes on the clock, Vityaz suddenly equalised against the run of play as 19-year-old forward Zakhar Bardakov went top shelf on Magnus Hellberg when clean through shorthanded.
Buoyed by that goal, Vityaz went on to cause Hellberg plenty of problems in the remainder of the period, taking aim from any possible angle and competing with real aggression. In the closing stages of the second frame, SKA did begin to start playing on the front foot again, and Emil Galimov and Malte Stromwall both wasted glorious chances when on the powerplay.
Nevertheless, to our relief, SKA did grab their all-important second goal in the sixth minute of the decisive third period.
Skating to the doorstep, Vasily Podkolzin successfully connected with Vladislav Tsitsyura’s intelligent feed, deftly knocking the puck past the stranded Todykov.
With Vityaz later running into serious penalty trouble, our team could - and should - have put the game out of sight on three successive powerplays, but Todykov refused to be beaten and Joonas Kemppainen struck the pipe. As a result of those misses, it turned out to be a tense, nervy end to the period, and Hellberg came to SKA’s rescue with two wonderful point-blank saves against Alexander Syomin and Danila Moiseev.
Thankfully, SKA did hold on for dear life, though, and Kemppainen iced it with an empty-netter after Todykov had been pulled for the extra skater.
SKA will now prepare to host Severstal Cherepovets in Saint Petersburg on January 27. Puck-drop is scheduled for 19:30 local time.
Vityaz - SKA - 1:3 (0:1, 1:0, 0:2)
0:1 Ozhiganov (Kuzmenko, Burdasov), 07.54
1:1 Bardakov (Pautov, Moiseev), 26.53
1:2 Podkolzin (Tsitsyura, Ozhiganov), 45.39
1:3 Kemppainen (Ketov, Antipin), 59.21
Goalkeepers: Todykov - Hellberg
Shots on target: 16 - 29
Faceoffs: 21 - 29
Hits: 20 - 13
Penalty minutes: 16 - 8
Referees: Gofman, Yudakov
21.01.2021. Vityaz Ice Palace, Podolsk.