The symmetry of revenge

Source: Club Press-Office



Back in September our team suffered one of its most disappointing setbacks of the season, failing to score for the first time in the KHL and slipping to a 0-2 loss at Severstal. So, the Steelmen’s visit to China was an eagerly-anticipated opportunity to set that record straight … and it ended with a mirror image of the encounter in Cherepovets as Kunlun won by the same 2-0 scoreline.

That brought a first shut-out for goalie Tomi Karhunen, who made 22 saves to preserve his 100% win record for Kunlun. While it’s true that the Finn has only played in three games, due to injury and the impressive form of Andrei Makarov, his stats from a disjointed campaign are making it clear why Kunlun was keen to make the 27-year-old netminder one of its first signings after appointing head coach Vladimir Yurzinov back in the summer.

Karhunen’s star performance was matched by the goalscoring contributions of birthday boy Oleg Yashin and Martin Bakos. Yashin, celebrating his 26th birthday, opened the scoring in the first period, albeit in somewhat muted circumstances. He took Zach Yuen’s pass and flashed a shot that rattled the crossbar and bounced back into play. At the next break in the action the officials reviewed the play and the video showed that the puck had crossed the line – belatedly, Kunlun was awarded the opening goal.

There was no doubt about Bakos’s strike early in the third. The Slovak forward collected Tomas Marcinko’s pass and homed in on the net. His first shot found Jakub Kovar’s pads, but the rebound dropped into space in front of goal and Bakos reacted fastest to flip a backhand shot over the goalie’s shoulder.

In between those two goals the game got bogged down in a series of penalties, the most serious of which saw Severstal’s Anton Sizov ejected from the game for a high hit on Tuukka Mantyla. Our Finnish D-man is made of tough stuff, though, and despite taking a juddering blow he played on for the rest of the game as normal. The power play did not accrue, despite Linus Videll carving out a good chance for Chad Rau in the slot; our top-scoring forward, for once, failed to get his shot on target.

The symmetry of our two encounters with Severstal did not end with the scoreline. In Cherepovets, despite failing to score, Kunlun created sufficient chances to suggest that the outcome might have been different. Here, too, the beaten team might look at a few key moments and argue things could have worked out in its favor. A big chance for Daniil Vovchenko on the counter-attack late in the second period might have tied the scores but for some sharp work from Karhunen, who blocked the initial shot and recovered to deny the forward a second chance on the wraparound.

Saturday’s win keeps Kunlun in seventh place with 55 points from 36 games. Ahead of us, Admiral is in sight, just one point clear having played a game more. Behind us, the all-important gap to ninth-placed Sibir increases to three points. Red Star returns to action on Monday when CSKA Moscow comes to Shanghai and our team prepares another revenge mission after a 3-0 defeat in Russia back in September.