It took a last-minute equalizer, but SKA managed to record its third victory over Spartak this season thanks to a Nail Yakupov power play goal. In Monday’s other game, Sochi won 4-2 at Neftekhimik.
It’s not always easier playing at home. When SKA went to Spartak at the start of the month, the Army Men romped to a 6-0 victory. But in the Northern Capital it’s been a rather different story. Spartak’s first visit ended with SKA edging a 2-1 verdict after falling behind early on. Back in Petersburg again today, Spartak made SKA work hard: the visitor was up 2-1 until late in the third period before Patrik Hersley took the game to overtime with a last-minute goal.
From there, Nail Yakupov secured the win for SKA, moving the Petersburg club back to within two points of Western Conference leader CSKA after he finished off a counter-attack in the 63rd minute.
Much of the credit for Spartak’s performance lies with goalie Julius Hudacek. The Slovak shotstopper made 40 saves in regulation to frustrate the powerful SKA offense and denied Nikita Gusev a winner with the first significant action of the extras. The early stages suggested a repeat of the game in Moscow. SKA began on the front foot and could have claimed an early lead when Nikita Gusev had a penalty shot after Vsevolod Sorokin was cited for throwing his stick at an opponent as the home team carved out an opening in front of goal. Gusev, however, missed his chance; Hudacek kept Spartak’s net intact.
Parity did not last much longer, though. In the 10th minute, SKA went ahead through Sergei Plotnikov. Hudacek could not hold on to a powerful shot from Vladislav Gavrikov, and Plotnikov was on hand to force home the loose puck. Spartak, galvanized, quickly tied the game. This time, Gavrikov was deceived by Robin Hanzl and the Czech forward took the opportunity to fire into the far corner of Igor Shestyorkin’s net.
The second period saw SKA enjoy the bulk of the attacking play. Artyom Zub had a great chance early on but failed to beat Hudacek, Oleg Li danced through the defense but could not find a way past the goalie and Pavel Datsyuk present Nail Yakupov with a good look at the Spartak net. SKA finished the period with 11 shots to one, but the scoreline remained locked at 1-1.
That all changed early in the third when Kaspars Daugavins punished the home team’s wastefulness. Shestyorkin failed to read the Latvian’s shot from a tight angle and the puck bounced off the goalie and into the net to give Spartak the lead. Despite some relentless home pressure, it looked as if the Red-and-Whites would hold on until a late penalty on Nikita Filatov gave SKA a spell of 6-on-4 play. Datsyuk’s pass unpicked the visiting defense and Hersley smashed home the tying goal.
Eric O’Dell scored twice as HC Sochi picked up a road win at Neftekhimik. The home team missed the chance to open a four-point gap over ninth-placed Kunlun Red Star after losing for only the second time in six games.
Sochi could hardly have made a better start. Twice in the first 15 minutes the visiting power play clicked into gear and O’Dell collected two goals.
Neftekhimik’s reply started with ‘Sochi-man’ himself. In January’s All-Star Game, Pavel Padakin donned a superhero costume in honor of his team. Since then, he moved to Tatarstan and – almost inevitably – scored against his former club tonight. Padakin reduced the deficit late in the first period; Adam Polasek wiped out Sochi’s lead early in the second.