A sense of deja-vu
Source: Club Press-Office
Kunlun Red Star 2 Admiral Vladivostok 3 SO
Another day, another match-up with Admiral, and another shoot-out. And, sorry to say, another defeat at the hands of Viktor Alexandrov, the man who crashed Saturday’s homecoming party in Shanghai.
The shoot-out was level at 1-1 – Wojtek Wolski for Red Star, Maxim Kazakov for Admiral – when Alexandrov stepped up to win his duel with Magnus Hellberg. Igor Bobkov proved strong enough to deny Geoff Kinrade and Jesse Blacker, and once again Kunlun was beaten by the narrowest and most frustrating of margins. Indeed, there’s a certain weary familiarity about it all. So far this season, Kunlun has managed only one win after tying in regulation – a shoot-out success against Traktor back on September 3. Since then, there have been two overtime losses and a further four in shoot-outs.
Monday’s feeling of familiarity was not limited solely to the outcome, nor the key role played by Mr. Alexandrov. Even regulation had its echoes of Saturday’s game. The first period was goalless again, the two teams evenly matched. Red Star moved ahead in the middle frame, building a strong position on the back of power play goals from Blacker and Wolski. Gilbert Brule had a hand in both; first, his rush ended with the puck sliding back for Blacker to unleash a one-timer from the top of the circle. Next, just after the midway mark, Brule was lurking down in the corners and picked out a pass for Wolski to thump home. Red Star led 2-0, and it felt like Saturday’s disappointment might be swiftly avenged.
Then our weekend nemesis, Alexandrov, got in on the act, halving the deficit before the second intermission. Going into the third with a one-goal advantage, that man Alexandrov thwarted Kunlun once again: his interception, deep in our zone, enabled him to set up Dmitry Sayustov for the tying goal and set us on the way to another round of extras. As mentioned earlier, overtime has not been our favorite part of the game this season – a contrast from last year, when we claimed the bonus point four times from seven – and once again the outcome was a disappointment.
And so, on the face of it, things don’t look good. One win in eight games is a poor return by any standards. But, digging a little deeper, the position is not quite as bleak as it might seem. Only two of those defeats came in regulation time, and one of those – the 0-3 reverse at Avangard – was hardly the one-sided encounter the final score suggests. This team is not far away from turning its potential into performances, and the next chance to do that comes on Friday when Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars comes to town. A tall order? Maybe, but what better way to show the rest of the league what our guys can do than by giving a real battle to an in-form opponent?
Official game sheet