Kirill Marchenko showed nerves of steel to claim a shoot-out winner after an entertaining game in Petersburg. SKA’s 19-year-old forward, making only his sixth KHL appearance for the club, slotted the Army Men’s third attempt past Alexander Salak, opening a 2-0 lead in the shoot-out and ultimately securing the win for his team. However, SKA’s third win in four games only came after a real battle against the league’s basement club.
The first period was dominated by SKA. Salak was beaten for the first time in the fifth minute when Andrei Kuzmenko’s pass from behind the net was converted by Anton Burdasov. Kuzmenko thought he’d doubled the lead in the 10th minute when he squeezed a shot through Salak’s pads, but a challenge from the Riga bench saw the play whistled off for offside. However, with SKA dominating the play it was little surprise when the home team did increase the lead at the start of the second period thanks to Alexander Barabanov.
However, that second goal served to awaken Dinamo’s previously dormant offense. Uvis Balinskis served notice with a range finder from the blue line, then two goals in three minutes saw Lauris Darzins and Brandon McMillan tie the scores before the midway point. And that was just the start. Four minutes before the second intermission, McMillan scored again, smashing home a Darzins pass from behind the net to give Dinamo the lead.
SKA responded to tie the scores with a power play goal from the lively Kuzmenko just before the hooter, but in the third period Salak proved to be an impregnable barrier. The home team dominated the play, outshooting Riga 11-1 and produced 23 attempts on goal to Dinamo’s four. However, Salak repeatedly said ‘no’ and forced the play into overtime.
In the extras, McMillan was denied a game-winning hat-trick following a video review. The Canadian forward’s shot crept through Alexei Melnichuk’s defenses and was pushed over the line by the goalie’s trailing skate. However, a video review determined that the home goalie was pushed into the net along with the puck following Carter Ashton’s shove on Artyom Zub; goalie interference and thus no goal. Play went to the other end, where Vladimir Tkachyov fired a shot into Salak’s helmet, but the game was destined to go all the way to a shoot-out.