One player who benefited from Ilya Kovalchuk’s benching in St. Petersburg was New York Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich. With Kovalchuk out, the 20-year-old winger got his first taste of playoff action with SKA on Tuesday. He started off strong with a first period assist, but his night ended early when he was ejected for a spear.
With SKA up 3-0 just past the midway mark of the second frame, Buchnevich lined up across Lokomotiv Yaroslavl winger Daniil Apalkov, who had scored minutes earlier. Apalkov and Buchnevich got their sticks tangled and jostled with each other, which was broken up by the linesman who was set to drop the puck. But as the players were being separated, Buchnevich jabbed his stick towards Apalkov and caught him in a rather uncomfortable spot:
Apalkov winced in pain and he drifted away from the pile and for his efforts Buchnevich was handed a major penalty for slashing and game misconduct for spearing. Adding insult to injury, Apalkov picked up a secondary assist on Staffan Kronwall’s ensuing power play goal, which brought Lokomotiv within one of tying the contest. Luckily for Buchnevich, it was the only goal Lokomotiv registered on the man advantage, and SKA went on to win the contest 3-2 to tie the series.
Total, Buchnevich managed 6:23 of ice time and one assist in his debut over 12 shifts. And after his spearing blunder, it’s hard to imagine SKA coach Sergei Zubov giving Buchnevich much of a chance in Game Three.
Buchnevich, one of the Rangers’ top prospects, scored 16 goals and 37 points in 58 games this season and has steadily increased his production each year in the KHL. He helped Russia to a World Junior Championship silver earlier this year.