More progress despite defeat at Amur

Source: Club Press-Office

16.09.2016

AMUR KHABAROVSK 3 KUNLUN RED STAR 1

Another road game, another 1-3 reverse … and yet head coach Vladimir Yurzinov still found positives from our loss at Amur.

The first cause for happiness was the improvement in our penalty kill: after four games Kunlun was the second worst in the whole KHL when it came to giving up goals when short-handed. Today, though, for the first time, we successfully killed all the penalties against us, including almost a minute-and-a-half of 3-on-5 play in the first period. Given the importance of special teams in modern hockey, this is an area of the game that we need to get right and, at last, there are signs that real progress is being made.

It's also true that we also had a more unwelcome first: no goals scored on the power play, despite a previously impressive return with a numerical advantage. But closer examination shows that this is no evidence of a crisis. We enjoyed just two power plays in this game in Khabarovsk, while our return for the season is one goal in every three situations when an opposition player is sent to the sin bin.

And, as Yurzinov told journalists after the game, our offense did a fine job of creating chances even as it struggled to solve Juha Metsola in the Amur net. “It was one of our best games on offense,” he said after match. “We took the initiative and created plenty of opportunities but unfortunately our problem was that we didn’t take them. And Amur played well and took its chances while we made a few serious individual errors that cost us the points.”

As with the two previous games on this tour, the second period was the damaging one. As before, Kunlun gave up two unanswered goals to put itself in a difficult position. This time Tomas Zohorna and Alexei Byvaltsev found the net, cancelling out Eetu Poysti’s first goal for the club. Sean Collins, who scored Red Star’s first ever competitive goal in Khabarovsk at the start of the month, got an assist on that goal and was denied an equalizer by the width of the post after beating Metsola. That came as part of a storm in the third period, with Kunlun topping the shot count by a whopping 19-6 margin. Unfortunately, though, the only goal of the final stanza went against us as Artyom Zub completed the scoring in the 51st minute.

A difficult series on the road comes to an end, and it’s time to prepare for Shanghai and our first games in our temporary home. The world’s biggest city awaits one of the world’s greatest sports, and we’ll be taking on Lada, Neftekhimik and Ak Bars in front of our own fans. Home comforts can provide the ideal cure for this brief bout of travel sickness when we get back on the ice on Sunday.