SKA forwards Sergei Shirokov and Sergei Plotnikov gave an interview to KHL.ru, in which Petersburg’s pair of predators spoke of the Army Men’s victory in Game 4 of a thrilling series against Dynamo Moscow in the Western Conference semi-finals.
On Tuesday, the 14th of March, SKA Saint Petersburg emerged victorious from Game 4 against Dynamo Moscow to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Oleg Znarok’s troops are now just a single step from the Conference final, but no-one is entertaining any reckless thoughts of a capitulation from Moscow’s Blue-and-Whites. Moreover, Dynamo have uncovered a secret and deadly weapon - Andrei Kuteikin from the red line. Kuteikin’s lethal, long-range guns were silenced in Act 4 of this drama, however, and the SKA snipers assure us that goaltender Mikko Koskinen is showing no signs of shell-shock.
Tuesday's game featured a short, but curious episode. After scoring his team’s second of the night – the go-ahead goal, which turned out to be the game-winner - Sergei Shirokov, perhaps momentarily thinking he was back at the Petersburg Ice Palace, where he could celebrate together with the SKA fans sitting behind the net, skated right up to the glass and came face-to-face with some far-from-happy Muscovites. However, instead of skating away, the forward stood his ground and held the gaze of his “critics,” before eventually turning to accept the congratulations from his comrades.
“The main thing is that I scored; nothing else matters,” - said Shirokov after the game. “Maybe it is the day’s talking point, I don't know, but I didn’t say a word. Most importantly, we won. The match was a tough one, we had a difficult start, but our goalie played very well and came to our rescue. We achieved a hard-fought victory. Now we need to gather our strength, mend our wounds, and get ready for the game in Petersburg.”
- Was it the crucial moment when you scored straight after Dynamo leveled?
“It’s hard to say. It was important that we took the lead before the break and that we killed our penalties. We blocked a lot of shots, won a lot of individual battles, and not everything went according to plan but… we’ll work on it.”
- What is it like playing without Pavel Datsyuk?
“Like going out to box with one hand, but we just do our job... Yes, it is a big loss, but hopefully everything will be fine.”
Sergei Plotnikov gave his summary of Game 4 and said the team supported goaltender Mikko Koskinen after he was twice beaten by long-distance strikes from Andrei Kuteikin.
“It was a tough and tricky game for everyone,” - said Plotnikov. “The first goal was always going to be crucial, and we got it. After that, it became simpler and easier.”
- After the match, some SKA fans joked that Dynamo stadium staff can have their end-of-season dinner.
“Those are exactly the kind of thoughts we won’t entertain, not for a second. We have another tough game ahead of us, and after that we’ll see. Fortune-telling is not for me”
- Andrei Kuteikin’s two goals from the red line have triggered much discussion in this series. How are relations with your goaltender?
“The same as usual. He is not particularly bothered.”
- Did the coaching staff not order the team to keep a close guard on Kaleikini, especially when he is in possession of the puck near the red line?
“Of course not. The middle of the ice... Form a special guard around him... That would be ridiculous.”
- To return to the series with Vityaz, what do the results say about the games?
“It's hard for me to say, because I only played in one game of the series. However, I can say we played our usual hockey and managed to convert almost all the chances we created. And the scoreboard does not always fully reflect what happened out on the ice.”
“We won’t entertain any thoughts that Dynamo is finished. We have another tough game ahead of us, and after that we’ll see. Fortune-telling is not for me… We go into the next match with the same attitude we had before all the previous ones – intending to win.”
- The interval between the quarter-final and semi-final series was quite long. Did the team lose its edge at all?
“No, of course not. We had a rest, then we got well prepared. We were able to spend time with our families, as we were given a couple of days off, but after that it was full-on training.”
- All the same, in Game 1 at home against Dynamo, you twice came from behind to level the score but eventually lost in overtime.
“It is hard to say why that happened. It is possible that it took us some time to get into the game, but what can you do when you have enjoyed a 4-0 sweep in the first round?”
- Were you following Dynamo’s performances in the first round?
“I followed the results, but that’s about it. As for the subtleties of the opponents’ style of play and recent form, then our coaches concentrate on that. We go into the next match with the same attitude we had before all the previous ones – intending to win.”