The KHL roadshow rolled into Vilnius - and Lithuanian fans were given a treat as SKA St. Petersburg and Ak Bars Kazan played out a thrilling 3-3 draw before the «hosts» completed a come-back shootout win.
The match, on Monday evening, should have been played in St. Petersburg but neither of the northern capital's rinks were available to host the fixture.
So it was off to Vilnius, where a sell-out crowd at the Siemens Arena saw the defending Gagarin Cup holders Ak Bars take a 3-1 lead against the Western Conference leaders. But this year's team from Kazan are not yet as invincible as last season's, and they conceded two goals in the final three minutes as the game went into overtime.
SKA, seeking their first ever trophy since they were founded back in 1946, duly completed the fight-back in the shootout, holding on to top spot in the West.
KHL regular season games have gone 'on tour' before, with Dinamo Riga hosting Ak Bars and Lada in Espoo, Finland, last season. While such ‘road games’ have previously only been organised when a club’s home rink is unavailable, they still play a helpful role in spreading the league’s wings ever wider.
And League vice-president Vladimir Shalayev added that next season could see more games on tour, telling journalists in Vilnius: «To popularize the league is very important.»