Goals and assists: 27. Hossa (Řepík), 28. Němec (Voráček), 54. Klepiš (Vrána, Krejčík) - 3. Burdasov, 10. Tikhonov (Dallman, Kovalchuk), 32. Fyodorov (Nepryayev, Burdasov), 58. Tarasenko. Scoring sequence: 0:2, 2:2, 2:3, 3:3, 3:4. Shots on goal: 27:28 (8:11, 9:9, 10:8). Referees: Belov, Kiseliov. Linesmen: Gordenko, Parfionov. Penalties: 4:2. PP goals: 0:1. Attendance: 12 787.
Lev: Pöpperle - Němec, Škoula, Hunkes, Mikuš, Oystrick, Chára, Krejčík - Klepiš, Mikúš, Bartečko - Voráček, Chrinstensen, Novotný - Řepík, Surový, Hossa - Cingel, Vrána, Karamnov.
St. Petersburg: Bobrovsky - Alexandrov, Dallman, Kalinin, Chudinov, Semyonov, Serkin - Tikhonov, Tarasenko, Kovalchuk - Průcha, Martensson, Thoresen - Klimenko, Kucheryavenko, Makarov - Fyodorov, Nepryayev, Burdasov - Artyukhin, Vorobyov.
This was their 13th game of the season, so one would think they´d have a set routine by now. But anyone who´s been around the team for the past week could tell you that there was nothing routine about this game.
For starters, it was a home game, but not at their usual home. After getting comfortable within the friendly confines of Tipsport Arena, HC LEV had to adjust to something new this time, the larger and more modern O2 Arena, but that wasn´t all. Their defence had been almost completely rebuilt, with three new players on the back end, most notably Zdeno Chára. The media circus and the fan interest was something new too. So one could forgive them if they didn´t get off to the greatest of starts on Saturday. And they didn´t.
It wasn´t such a bad start, really, but the team definitely seemed nervous to begin with. The visitors from St. Petersburg, meanwhile, have become used to the attention, and for them this was just another stop on the road. They got the first goal on an innocent looking rush when Anton Burdasov´s shot snuck through the pads of Tomáš Pöpperle. Though listed as the team´s fourth line, the line of Burdasov, Ivan Nepryayev and Fyodor Fyodorov was SKA´s most dangerous in the opening period, getting several more chances after that goal. For Lev, their most dangerous player in the opening 20 was Jakub Voráček, who had a couple of good chances to score and then made a nice pass from down low to Juraj Mikúš in front. Mikúš fired a backhander that Sergei Bobrovsky made a great glove save on.
Voráček also got the game´s first penalty at 8:53 for hooking, and it took 44 seconds for the dangerous SKA power play to strike; Viktor Tikhonov got loose, took a pass and beat Pöpperle with a wrist shot to the stick side.
The home team seemed to start feeling more at home in the second period, and found their game. In the 27th minute, Marcel Hossa got them on the board with a great effort, beating Bobrovsky under the arm on a wrap-around. Right after that, Lev´s two most dangerous scorers, Jakub Klepiš and Erik Christensen, took advantage of a defensive miscue and had a couple of great chances but were unable to get the puck to settle down enough to get a really good shot on Bobrovsky. But the wave of pressure continued and, just 1:14 after Hossa´s goal, Ondřej Němec tied it with a wrist shot that hit the stick of an SKA defenceman and beat Bobrovsky upstairs.
After being somewhat quiet in the first period, the building was now rocking and the tempo of the game picked up, became more physical, which got the fans even more into it.
Perhaps SKA´s biggest asset is the depth. It was a pretty quiet night for the team´s top scoring line of Petr Průcha, Tony Martensson and Patrick Thoresen, and despite an assist, Ilya Kovalchuk was not so dazzling either. But the team´s fourth line struck again in the 32nd minute, with Fyodorov and Nepryayev executing a pretty give-and-go down low; Fyodorov finishing it off with a quick shot through traffic.
Early in the third period, the Lions finally got their first power play of the game when Maxim Chudanov gave Christensen a whack in the leg and sent him to the ice. Christensen hobbled off the ice, as did Voráček on an unrelated unrelated incident on the same play. Vořáček was seen hobbling in the corridor outside the dressing room and didn´t return to the game. Christensen, on the other hand, did return to ice during the power play but took a high-sticking penalty of his own, thus prematurely ending his team´s advantage.
Time was starting to become an enemy of Lev, but it was their most consistent scorer of the season who finally came through, as Petr Vrána made a great pass to Jakub Klepiš, who fired a nice shot into the top corner to tie the game with 7:17 on the clock, and the crowd erupted once more. Right afterward, Hossa came so close to giving the Lions their first lead of the game, but hit the goalpost, as the anxiety level in the arena continued to build.
It seemed that overtime was on the horizon, but the tie was broken on a great individual effort from young St. Louis Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, who circled the net wide and fired a shot from the slot that beat Pöpperle high to the glove side with 2:25 left.
Lev had one last hope when Průcha was whistled for tripping with 1:58 left, and they went to work, creating a couple of wild scrambles in front of Bobrovsky in the late going, but the locked out Philadelphia Flyer kept it out, twice managing to smother it while Lev attackers dug furiously. In the dying seconds the pressure was relieved as the puck was cleared, and SKA St Petersburg broke the hearts of Lev and their many fans, holding on for a 4-3 victory.
Comments of coachesJosef Jandač (HC LEV Praha): "We did not start the game well, we gave up two relatively cheap goals, then we we rose our level of play a little, we got into the game and tied it. Unfortunately, the third goal was also of the cheaper variety. When we again managed to tie it up, we had one big chance, Hossa went in by himself on the goaltender, and if he´d scored, it could have been different."
Miloš Říha (SKA St. Petersburg): "We got the lead and we had two other great chances. Then we got away from our game and started playing individually, which cost us. Otherwise, the game was even. It´s just a pity that the quality of the ice was bad and the players could not show all their skills."