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Kovalchuk nails first KHL hat-trick (VIDEO)

Published time: October 09, 2012 08:59
Edited time: October 09, 2012 16:33

SKA St. Petersburg's Ilya Kovalchuk (R) in the Kontinental Hockey League's regular season match. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Filippov)

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Ilya Kovalchuk scored three times as SKA Saint Petersburg came from two goals down to stun Pavel Datsyuk’s CSKA away in Moscow.

­Just a month ago, European hockey fans could have only dreamt of witnessing a match-up like this – Ilya Kovalchuk versus Pavel Datsyuk.

But now the NHL lockout made the meeting of two of the game’s biggest stars possible in a regular KHL match.

Hosts CSKA opened the scoring in the first army derby of the season, with the Russian magician Datsyuk netting his third KHL goal.

Early in the second period the Muscovites extended their lead after Aleksandr Radulov found Mikko Maenpaa in front of the net with an elegant pass, 2-0.

Not many expected SKA to bounce back after that, but the Kovalchuk show was just about to begin.

“We just lacked some drive in the beginning,”
Kovi explained. “We were not focused enough, just skating around, making a lot of mistakes. But we came out for the second period fired-up.”

And it paid off quickly, with the SKA captain doing what every player in the role has to do –inspiring his team with a goal, 2-1.

With plenty of goal scoring chances for the visitors, CSKA managed to stay in the lead through the second period.

However, SKA's comeback looked inevitable and just a minute into the final period Kovalchuk scored his second to level matters.

And things got even worse for the hosts when Kevin Dallman scored on a powerplay to give St Pete the lead, 3-2.

CSKA could've then evened the score, but Aleksandr Radulov missed the net on a breakaway.

Although, Ilya Kovalchuk didn't, netting his third on the night seven minutes from time to set the final score, 4-2.

“It was a good lesson for us,”
CSKA's Pavel Datsyuk stressed. “Fortunately, the season has just started and we have some time to improve. We've got huge potential, and we know what we should do to fulfill it. Some more important games are still ahead.”

The win propelled SKA to third place in the Western Conference as they sit three points behind leaders Lokomotiv Yaroslaval with a game in hand.