SKA is off to a flying start in the playoffs. They clipped Kuzbass, 6-4, in a very tight showdown of the first quarterfinal match-up.
A head coach of Kuzbass Aleksey Kitkov once said during his press-conference following the loss to SKA, 10-7, early in the season, that for his team "it doesn't really matter whom to play in the playoffs, we are capable of romping over any team". It is hard to say, if he really meant it. Did he ever contemplate over contesting SKA? But he was partly right. Had it been any other team, but our hometown, a setback in the first quarterfinal game would have been quite a logical upshot. The Kuzbass players rode a very strong start, having SKA defence "work overtime".
The first half was at close quarters, with both teams keeping up pressure all the time. Kuzbass had a couple of sure scoring chances in tight, and if they had gotten it made, who knows, which direction the game would have gone to. SKA, on the contrary, used every opportunity they had, thus grabbing the momentum in the middle of the second half, having scored three within a five-minute stretch, making it 5-2. Maksim Ishkeldin, twice, and Pavel Ryazantsev seemed to have tipped the balance in favor of the Khabarovsk players, but Kuzbass didn't agree with such an assumption and kept on vehemently resisting to score "a nice pair"!.....but when Yuriy Shardakov found a seam in the opponent's net, it made it all clear for everybody - SKA is a legitimate winner in this showdown.
Despite of this success, it is way early to jump to conclusions, the next game scheduled on the eighth will surely be as tight as the first one. Other quarterfinal games produced the following results: Uralskiy Trubnk 3 - Yenisey 2, Dynamo Moscow 2 - Dynamo Kazan 4, Vodnik 9 - Baikal 3.