Photo credit: Valery Zvonarev / KP.ru Chelyabinsk
In their third game of the 2012-13 KHL season, Traktor met Western Conference powerhouse SKA at home in Chelyabinsk. Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the game with two goals. He left with three.
Kuznetsov also tallied his first two-point performance of the year. His first point came very early in the game, as he got credit for a secondary assist on Jan Bulis‘ goal less than three minutes into the game. That goal tied the game at one. Things quickly unraveled for Traktor however, as SKA scored twice more to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
The score remained unchanged for the next 39 minutes, despite both teams trading chances (one of the biggest opportunities was a Kuznetsov breakaway denied by goaltender Ilya Yezhov). With about a minute to go in the third period, Kuznetsov finally broke through, skating the puck into SKA’s offensive zone guarded by two men. After his initial shot was blocked from the slot, Kuznetsov, out-battled three other defenders and got to the rebound first, snapping a shot past Yezhov. Kuznetsov celebrated by jumping high into the boards near center ice. Despite a late flurry, SKA, led by their netminder, managed to keep their one-goal lead and win 3-2. The game’s highlights can be seen under the jump.
Kuznetsov’s assist is at 0:50 mark, his breakaway is at 3:55 mark, and his goal is at the 6:00 mark.
The game also featured double goalie change for Traktor – something you don’t see very often in the KHL. After a bad first period, Michael Garnett was replaced by Vladislav Fokin coming out for the second. But with four minutes to go in the second, Fokin, who made a spectacular flashy save a few minutes before, was replaced by Garnett. This seemed irrational, but in the interview during the second intermission (you can watch part of it at 5:35 in the video) Kuznetsov told KHL-TV that he “saw Fokin limping” and that was confirmed by coach Valery Belousov in a post-game presser.
Traktor is now 2-1 on the year and will next play Dynamo Moscow on Sunday.