Brave fightback falls just short
Source: Club Press-Office
NEFTEKHIMIK NIZHNEKAMSK 4 KUNLUN RED STAR 3
A battling attitude and some ‘never say die’ spirit saw Kunlun come close to upsetting the odds in a dramatic fightback in Tatarstan.
Three goals in five minutes in the third period of this game threaten to turn the scoreline upside down and forced Neftekhimik into a desperate defense of a lead that had seemed unassailable at the second intermission. It wasn’t quite enough to secure the points, but it gave the team some positives to take away from a difficult evening.
The day started badly with news that captain Janne Jalasvaara would serve a five-game ban for firing the puck in referee’s direction in Tuesday’s win at Lada. The Finn might feel hard done by: the official himself had a good view of his move and saw no evidence of malicious intent, but a later review deemed it an offense worthy of a ban.
On the plus side, five games is the minimum penalty for this crime – a more violent assault could have put Janne out of action for 10.
Into the action, and Neftekhimik was intent on making things even worse. Pavel Zdunov gave the host a first-period lead then a rapid salvo in the middle stanza saw the advantage leap to 4-0. Konstantin Makarov, Richard Gynge and Pavel Kulikov did the damage; Kunlun’s Andrei Makarov left the game as new signing Artyom Zagidulin came off the bench for his first action since arriving from Magnitogorsk.
After conceding three goals in 271 seconds in the middle session, Kunlun responded with three in 265 seconds in the third. Linus Videll, Miika Lahti and Joonas Jarvinen all found the net as Red Star’s offense finally lit up. It was part of a brave rally in the closing stages, one which saw Kunlun outshoot Neftekhimik 23-10 and left the Chinese team feeling somewhat aggrieved to leave the arena with nothing.
Although there is plenty of encouragement to take from the final period, which showed once again how much can be achieved if a team is willing to fight to the end, the fact remains that so far Kunlun has yet to mount a big comeback and win a game after trailing by more than one goal. That achievement, though, seems to be getting closer.
The next game is in Kazan, where a visit to Ak Bars concludes this three-game road trip.