The unassailable fortress of Saint-Petersburg

First period
The nerve of the game was palpable from the get-go. Traktor had to play shorthanded right off the bat, and when it seemed they were successfully going to kill yet another penalty, Viktor Tikhonov appeared on the crease out of the blue and pulled SKA ahead. After the goal Traktor received their power play chance; Kuznetsov threw the puck toward the net at hazard, and it hit Kasutin’s skate and was left on the crease, but SKA’s goaltender had the wherewithal to quickly dispose of it. Traktor began to rock and roll after mid-period which resulted in a goal – Chistov found a nook between Kasutin’s pads and sent it right there to tie the match. Both teams exchanged a couple of nice attacks; Garnett was the hero of the moment when turned aside three of Prucha’s consecutive shots. The scoreboard read one all as the teams headed for the first break of the match.

Second period
Four minutes into the period an unpleasant episode occurred that must have had all of Traktor fans collectively scream in anxiety; Fedorov’s momentum accidentally threw him into Garnett. Michael was laid out on the ice for a while, but managed to get back up and continue the match like nothing happened and soon turned aside a heavy shot from the blue line by Kucheryavenko. Michael’s efforts were not enough seconds later when Mortensson converted Thoresen’s pass to a goal-scoring effort. After being on the receiving end yet again Traktor got the initiative for a moment, but then SKA nullified the advantage, and the game was back to even. The opponents exchanged chances on goal; both goaltenders were perfect on these particular exchanges. Four minutes before the horn Afinogenov hit the post; then SKA executed several sharp attacks; Garnett fended off the attackers to keep the goal margin at one. As the concession stands were ready to accept the hungry fans, Quint should have tied the match, but miraculously Kasutin was able to move to the empty corner and block the shot.

Third period
SKA completely overtook the advantage in the third period and scored three unanswered pucks. First off Peter Prucha pierced Garnett with a close-range shot. Visitors were left shorthanded momentarily and allowed another goal at the hands of Yury Aleksandrov. Kuznetsov could cut the goal margin but missed the net. The final score was set with Mortensson’s second goal of the game. Traktor tried to save the face by scoring at least one goal, but all to no avail. The black and white team heads to Minsk for the final match of this away series.

Stats and details

SKA vs. Traktor – 5:1 (1:1, 1:0, 3:0)

Tikhonov (Klimenko), 5 (1:0 – PP); Chistov (Kuznetsov), 15 (1:1); Mortensson (Kalinin, Thoresen), 26 (2:1); Prucha (Mortensson, Thoresen), 44 (3:1); Aleksandrov, 46 (4:1 – PP); Mortensson (Thoresen, Semenov), 53 (5:1).

SKA (Saint-Petersburg)
Dallman – Aleksandrov, Prucha – Mortensson – Thoresen,
Kalinin (C) – Pervyshin, Makarov – Tikhonov – Klimenko,
Semenov – Vorobyev, Rybin – Kucheryavenko – Afinogenov,
Fedorov – Nepryayev – Burdasov.

Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
Quint – Ryabykin (A), Chistov – Bulis – Kuznetsov,
Belov – Vasilchenko, Panov (A) – Kontiola – Yakutsenya,
Katichev – Razin, Kostitsyn – Antipov (C) – Glinkin,
Nesterov – Shinin, Nichushkin – Dugin – Karpov.

Penalty Minutes:
8 (2+2+4) - 8 (2+2+4).
Shots: 32 (7+12+13) - 25 (8+9+8).
Faceoffs Won: 29 (7+11+11) - 26 (10+2+14).
Power Play Goals: 2-0.
Time on Ice: Kalinin (23:16), Pervyshin (22:50), Aleksandrov (22:05) - Kuznetsov (18:16), Ryabykin (17:52), Chistov (17:45).

Referees: Anatoly Zakharov, Roman Gofman (both – Moscow).
Linesmen: Yevgeny Streltsov, Denis Tarasov (both – Nizhny Novgorod).

January 28, 2013. Ice Palace, Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Attendance – 12200.

Photo courtesy of SKA’s Press Office