Kovalchuk debuted for Spartak with a goal! But he also “brought” to his own doors
Pavel Panyshev December 24, 2023, 16:37 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Considering Ilya hadn’t played hockey for two and a half years, he looked good.
Today is a big event for all Russian hockey. No matter how they treat Ilya Kovalchuk, no matter how they make fun of his considerable age by sports standards, the return of a 40-year-old maestro to big hockey is certainly great.
Ilya Kovalchuk suspended his career in 2021, leaving Avangard, where he moved after many years playing for HC SKA and National Hockey League (NHL) clubs. Kovalchuk graduated from the Moscow team. He last played in the KHL in the 2020/2021 season with Avangard Omsk.
What they said about Kovalchuk’s return to Spartak:
“When Ovechkin returns to Dynamo, it will be the same opera.” Reaction to Kovalchuk at Spartak
It is worth noting that Kovalchuk graduated from Spartak. By decision of the coaching staff, he was announced on the second line of the red and white team along with Maxim Tsyplakov and Andrei Loktionov.
The fans in the stands of the MCA Luzhniki greeted Ilya, if not with applause, then with loud applause. In the first half, Kovalchuk, taking into account the specifics of the first meeting, showed himself very well: he scored a dangerous shot on the power play, won the elimination and, in general, did not look like a player who had been out of game. ice for two and a half years.
What to expect from the red and whites?
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As a result, in the opening twenty minutes, Kovalchuk spent six minutes and 19 seconds on the court (eight shifts), including one minute and 36 seconds on the power play (two shifts). It was not possible to stand out and score points for his performance, but Tchaikovsky, Goldobin (28th goal of the season) and Loktionov, who scored the 100th goal of his KHL career, did it once each. The main thing is that the team won with confidence, which means that Ilya’s debut was definitely a success.
In the second leg of the match, Filin made the score 4-0, but then Ilya made a serious mistake. At the same time, the guests scored in the minority: Kovalchuk lost the puck on the opponent’s blue line, Chelios made a pass to Rodewald, who ran into Nikolaev’s goal from the left side and calmly beat the goalkeeper. Spartak’s number 71 played four minutes and 46 seconds (five shifts), including one and a half minutes for the power play, in which the unfortunate “take” occurred. The Muscovites, by the way, are the worst team in the KHL in terms of goals conceded on the power play. A wake-up call for coaches.
Video rights belong to KHL LLC. You can watch the video on the official website of the Kontinental Hockey League.
In the third period, Jiang Fu scored the “dragons” second goal, but Kovalchuk made no mistake. Closer to the end of the “2+2”, Zaitsev was ruled out for a dangerous play with a high stick, but the home team managed to fight back.
Photo: Vladimir Bezzubov, photo.khl.ru
Kunlun, with a score of 4:2, decided to replace Jeremy Smith with a sixth field hockey player, for which he paid. Almost immediately the crowd saw Kovalchuk’s first goal for Spartak in the KHL. Ilya received a pass from Loktionov on the left backboard on the blue line and, with an awkward hand, sent the puck into the empty goal.
Interesting fact: Kovalchuk also made his debut for Avangard in the match against Kunlun on December 30, 2020. Ilya scored immediately in that match, and this time he also scored. Let’s see what the experienced red and white striker will look like next. So far, apart from the “import”, everything is very decent.