The clash between SKA and Metallurg Magnitogorsk pitted two of the most titled coaches currently working in the KHL against one another – and the attraction was big enough to delay the call-up of several international stars expected at this weekend’s Karjala Cup in Finland.
But the battle between last season’s champion and many people’s favorites to take the crown this time wasn’t dominated by the big names on either team.
Magnitka’s 2-1 victory was secured by a 52nd-minute goal from defenseman Rafael Batyrshin. There seemed to be little danger as he collected Danis Zaripov’s pass and took it to the red line before slinging the puck across the face of the net but a helpful ricochet to beat Evgeny Ivannikov.
Earlier Maxim Yakutsenya had been at the forefront for Magnitka. He opened the scoring in the first period and missed a penalty shot late in the second. In between Roman Cervenka put SKA level but the Army Men could not escape their first home defeat of the season.