Yashin fires a double blast
Source: Club Press-Office
KUNLUN RED STAR 3 SALAVAT YULAEV UFA 2
Oleg Yashin’s frustrating start to his career at Kunlun suddenly blossomed into the big performance we’ve been expecting from the talented forward.
After managing just one goal so far, the game-winner against HC Sochi, Yashin had attracted some criticism from head coach Vladimir Yurzinov. The boss felt that a player of Yashin’s undoubted talent should be contributing more … and the player responded in the best possible manner to help Red Star to perhaps its most impressive win of the season so far.
It wasn’t just the manner of this 3-2 victory, which combined skill and determination. The pedigree of the opposition also added to the significance of the result. Salavat Yulaev is one of the most titled teams in Russian hockey, and won the Gagarin Cup in 2011. Its roster contains proven international talent such as Linus Omark and, in Kirill Kaprizov, one of the brightest prospects in Russian hockey. Behind the bench, head coach Igor Zakharkin brings a wealth of experience at the very highest level.
None of that, though, was enough to deny Yashin & Co. The first goal came in the 11th minute, Yashin scoring from close range on the backhand. Midway through the second he made it 2-0, converting a breakaway chance.
Home celebrations were cut short – at least temporarily – as Tomas Marcinko was sin-binned and Kaprizov scored on the power play. That’s relatively unusual – Kunlun’s PK is among the best in the KHL – but it was less painful than what followed. A fight between Denis Bodrov and Brett Bellemore left the home team with a power play, but numerical advantage counted against us. Twice Salavat Yulaev pounced on errors to launch counter-attacks. Andrei Makarov stopped the first but Teemu Hartikainen scored from the second. Within four minutes our lead had evaporated and the score was 2-2.
Big problems demand big hearts. Kunlun refused to panic and restored its lead on 36 minutes with a goal from a well-worked face-off. Miika Lahti won the draw, Chad Rau found the net. Simple, effective, and not the first time our top line has delivered that kind of blow.
With 24 minutes left, strength and commitment were the team’s watchwords. Rigid discipline denied Salavat Yulaev another chance on the power play, solid defense kept the opposition away from Makarov’s net and Kunlun could celebrate a winning return to home ice.
It wasn’t just a big win for our team, it was also a special moment for head coach Yurzinov. He is a popular figure in Ufa, where he spent four years on the coaching staff at Salavat Yulaev and led the team to the Eastern Conference final. Beating a big name is always a big deal; overcoming an opponent after such a close history is bigger still.