SKA St. Petersburg lockout star Ilya Kovalchuk scored as his team won 2-0 on home ice against Sibir Novosibirsk to move to the top of the KHL's Western Conference on Thursday.
SKA extended its winning streak to six games and is now three points ahead of second-placed Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, while Sibir remains second in the East.
After a goalless first period, New Jersey Devils forward Kovalchuk scored his sixth goal of the season, skating from behind the goal to hit a wrist shot into the top corner on 25 minutes.
“My goal? The best are lucky, I aimed for the place where it hit the net: sometimes you score, sometimes not.” SKA’s captain said after the game.
“I think we’ve shown our character today.”
Three minutes later, Alexander Kucheryavenko doubled the lead from a pinpoint pass from Igor Makarov.
The visitors tried to return to the game in the third period, but were hindered by repeated penalties.
Kovalchuk notched up his 19th point in 10 games and is now just two points behind KHL top-scorer Dmitry Makarov of Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
SKA’s goaltender Ilya Yezhov made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season.
“Goaltender Ezhov has deserved his award of the best player of the match.” Kovalchuk said.