SKA St. Petersburg 4 HC Sochi 1 (0-0, 1-1, 3-0)
SKA eventually won this game quite comfortably — but it took time for the home team to solve Sochi despite dominating much of the play.
The Army Men blanked Kunlun in their first game on Tuesday and continued to swagger their way around the rink in the first period against Sochi. But at the start of the middle session, they were stunned by a goal from Jere Karjalainen to give the visitor the lead.
SKA tied the scores midway through the second period thanks to Linden Vey. The Canadian reacted smartly after Kirill Marchenko won a battle in front of the net and squeezed the puck into space for his team-mate to rifle into the open side of the net.
Vey was close to giving SKA the lead in the third, when he fired a shot against the post. Emil Galimov was first to the rebound but, with the goal at his mercy, his first touch took him to a tight angle and the chance went begging.
It was starting to look as though the home team’s domination of the game might go unrewarded, but a winning goal came with seven minutes left. This time Vey turned provider, springing the Sochi defense to release Marchenko and the youngster converted his one-on-one. And doubts about the final outcome were erased late on as Vey and Marchenko collected their third points of the game to set up another youngster, Arseny Brinkman, for his first SKA goal. There was still time for Miro Aaltonen to apply some gloss to the final scoreline.
The result moves the Army Men level with Avangard on four points from two games; the teams go head-to-head on Friday evening. Sochi, winless, will look to move off the foot of the table against Severstal tomorrow evening.
TPS Turku 2 Jokerit Helsinki 4 (0-2, 1-1, 1-1)
Eeli Tolvanen made his reputation at Jokerit as an 18-year-old, producing a break-out season in the KHL that earned him an Olympic call in 2018. Since then, things haven’t quite gone to plan: now 21, he has just seven NHL appearances to his name with Nashville and is still waiting to produce the kind of impact we know he is capable of.
Now, though, he’s back in Finland, on loan at Jokerit until at least the start of the new NHL season. And, in his first appearance this afternoon, he was straight back on the scoring trail. Tolvanen potted Jokerit’s fourth goal in this victory over TPS, in a game watched by 3,000 fans in Turku. He was assisted by Mikko Lehtonen, another player loaned back to Jokerit after moving to the NHL this summer.
The goal put the seal on a good day for the Finns. The team forged ahead at the end of the first period, with Jordan Schroeder collecting two helpers as Brian O’Neill and Jonathan Pudas opened a 2-0 lead. The home team responded with a goal from Ruslan Ishkhakov, once a CSKA prospect, early in the third, but David Sklenicka restored the two-goal cushion. The final stanza followed a similar pattern, with another young Russian — Timur Ibragimov, on loan from SKA’s system — pulling a goal back before Tolvanen secured the win.
Tomorrow Jokerit faces Dinamo Riga in its first game against KHL opposition this summer.