Ak Bars edges thriller in Petersburg
SKA St. Petersburg 5 Ak Bars Kazan 6 (SO)
Ak Bars’ first period performance suggested that talk of problems in Kazan was laughably premature – but after sweeping into a 4-1 lead at SKA, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov saw his team fold in the closing stages to allow Oleg Znarok’s men to tie it up at 5-5.
The visitor rallied to claim a shoot-out victory: two saves from Emil Garipov denied Vadim Shipachyov and Ilya Kovalchuk before Fyodor Lukoyanov got the winner. But for two periods of Pavel Datysuk-inspired SKA dominance, this was a game that highlighted many of the weaknesses of Ak Bars in the opening weeks of the season.
Before the game there was much talk of the renewed rivalry between Bilyaletdinov and Znarok, the man who replaced him behind the bench of Team Russia. The two had memorably duelled in the 2010 Gagarin Cup final, when Bilyaletdinov’s Ak Bars got an almighty fright against Znarok’s unfancied MVD. And now they met as two of the most distinguished ...