Sharing points with neighbors
Source: Club Press-Office
Before the international break in the KHL championship we traveled to Vladivostok for a double-header vs. Admiral. Each team got three points for its labors.
Oct. 29. ADMIRAL VLADIVOSTOK 3 KUNLUN RED STAR 1
Injury-hit Kunlun deserved better than a 1-3 reverse at Admiral after a performance that could easily have brought greater reward.
The team came to Vladivostok with three key absentees: defenseman Joonas Jarvinen, leading scoring Max Warn and in-form forward Linus Videll. Despite that, and despite racking up nine penalty minutes in the first 30 minutes of the game, the Chinese team played the better hockey in the opening stages and looked the more likely team to break the deadlock.
Fate had other ideas, though, and the opening goal went to Admiral’s Mikhail Fisenko. Nothing daunted, Kunlun replied within a couple of minutes when Janne Jalasvaara tied the scores with a powerful long-range effort.
It wasn’t until the final stanza that Admiral finally solved Kunlun’s solid penalty kill; Red Star is currently the third strongest team in the KHL when playing short-handed but that statistic wasn’t enough to prevent Dmitry Sayustov scoring a shorthanded goal on us while Vladimir Tkachyov was sin-binned. It was the third team Kunlun had conceded on its own PP, and also the third time Sayustov had scored past us after he claimed two consolation efforts in our 6-3 victory way back in our first ever home game.
This time Sayustov’s goal proved decisive, with Viktor Alexandrov wrapping up Admiral’s win with a late empty-netter but head coach Vladimir Yurzinov was not too disappointed. In the post-game press conference, he told journalists that he felt his team had played well despite the result.
Oct. 31. ADMIRAL VLADIVOSTOK 2 KUNLUN RED STAR 3
Our team welcomed back first-choice goalie Andrei Makarov and Swedish attacker Linus Videll but still had to deal with absence of Max Warn. Sean Collins took Warn’s spot in Red Star’s first line and duly responded with two assists.
It took Chad Rau just 40 seconds to open the scoring thanks to a defensive blunder by the hosts who were seemingly caught unaware by visitors’ blistering pace right from the face-off. After such a lively start the action was destined to unfold at lightning speed, setting the scene for a potentially high-scoring game.
The first period lived up to those expectations with four goals flying in. After just 20 minutes the scoreboard already read 3-1, just as it had on Saturday. This time, however, it was in Kunlun’s favor. The Fetisov Arena went crazy at 16:29 as Sergei Ilyin levelled the score but just 57 seconds later Red Star went back in front. Not for the first time this season, Tuukka Mantyla’s precise wrist-shot from distance found the back of the net. Another 90 seconds passed and Damien Fleury scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. Oleg Yashin set up a breakaway for the Frenchman who went like a rocket one-on-one with Ivan Nalimov. The Admiral goalie stopped the initial shot but Fleury made no mistake with the rebound.
After the first break of play Igor Bobkov substituted Nalimov in home goal and in the remaining 40 minutes he had to deal with 21 shots. None of them could beat him but the game was already lost. James Wright scored on 54:39 to reduce the deficit and set up a nail-biting finale but Kunlun stood firm to secure three points.
The win takes the Chinese team to 7th spot in Eastern Conference with 36 points. With several teams battling around the dotted line that separates the playoff places from the also-rans, every result has a big impact on the standings. Kunlun still holds a strong position, though, with a couple of games in hand on its closest rivals as well as those points already on the board. But after the first, grueling stage of the team’s debut season comes to an end it’s a chance to enjoy a short break from competitive play until the action resumes on November 8th. After the break KRS plays Dinamo Riga, Dinamo Minsk and Jokerit Helsinki on the road before returning to Shanghai for a three-game home stand.