The Russian defenceman snuck down from the point and buried a rebound past fellow countryman Andrey Makarov in the Saskatoon net at 5:45 to break a 2-2 tie.
The Blades had a number of good chances to tie it, including a power play midway through the period, but couldn't get anything past London goalie Anthony Stolarz, who finished with 27 saves.
Seth Griffith, with an goal and an assist, and Brett Welychka also scored for the Ontario Hockey League champions, who got off to the start they wanted in the 10-day round-robin tournament to decide the Canadian Hockey League's best team.
Josh Nicholls scored twice for Saskatoon, while Michael Ferland picked up two assists. Makarov was strong in stopping 30 shots for the Blades.
Stolarz was in goal for the Knights, despite watching from the bench as Jake Patterson won three straight to close out an OHL final that saw London storm back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Barrie Colts in a seven-game series that only wrapped up on Monday.
Down 2-1 after a sluggish first period following a 51-day layoff, Saskatoon started to find its legs in the second after killing off a London 54-second two-man advantage, thanks in large part to a couple of big stops from Makarov.
London's Max Domi then had a great chance in front of Makarov midway through the period but sent a backhand just wide.
The Blades were energized by a couple of big hits and Nicholls tied it at 15:21 after taking a breakaway pass from Ferland. Stolarz made the initial save but Nicholls batted in the rebound, much to the delight of the towel-waving crowd of 10,203 at the Credit Union Centre.
Saskatoon, which was eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs on March 27 in a stunning sweep at the hands of the Medicine Hat Tigers, came close to taking the lead late in the period, but Stolarz made two big saves from in close.
Blades coach Lorne Molleken told the media earlier in the week that his team was sick of practising and his players came out strong in the first period, laying two big hits in the first few minutes.
The hosts opened the scoring at 7:59 of the first when Nicholls banged a puck past Stolarz off a wraparound pass from Ferland after Saskatoon just kept the puck in at the London blue-line.
But the Knights started to find their game and carried the play until tying the score at 12:55 when Welychka swatted a shot in front past Makarov from in tight.
Saskatoon's long layoff might have contributed to the go-ahead goals at 18:21 when London's Bo Horvat jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone and fed Griffith, who beat Makarov with a backhand deke.
The Knights finished the night 1 for 6 on the power play, while the Blades wound up scoreless on their two chances.
Notes: Despite the host team playing in the first game, large swaths of seats in the upper bowl were empty. ... The Halifax Mooseheads meet the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday in the first game of the tournament for both clubs. The marquee matchup of the round robin features the three highest rated North American skaters for the upcoming NHL draft — Portland defenceman Seth Jones and Halifax forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. ... The Blades are back on the ice Sunday against the Mooseheads, while the Knights play the Winterhawks on Monday. ... The Memorial Cup was first awarded in 1919. The trophy was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in honour of the soldiers killed in the First World War. After a rededication in 2010, it now recognizes Canadian soldiers killed in any conflict.Suggest a correction