Bouncing back. Win against Loko takes us to the playoff zone
Source: Club Press-Office
KUNLUN RED STAR 3 LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL 1
Life in the KHL is a relentless challenge for all teams – but the quick turnaround of games gave Kunlun a great chance to shake off the pain of a heavy home defeat against Metallurg.
Even so, the prospect of facing a Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team on a four-game winning run and buoyed by an 8-1 thrashing of Barys in its previous game could have been a daunting one as Red Star prepared for its second game in 24 hours.
Not that Loko’s journey to Shanghai was entirely smooth: flight problems forced Alexei Kudashov’s team to wait overnight in Krasnoyarsk airport before touching down in China on the afternoon of the game. Like Chatsky, the hero of Griboyedov’s ‘Woe from Wit’, Lokomotiv’s players had to rush ‘from the ship to the ball’.
Kunlun welcomed captain Janne Jalasvaara back to the line-up after a five-game suspension – good news at any time, and more so than ever given the need for fresh legs after yesterday’s loss. But both teams battled with fatigue in the first period and chances were few until Lokomotiv snatched a barely-deserved lead just before the intermission. Ilya Lyubushkin’s shot from the blue line looked like a routine effort but goalie Artyom Zagidulin was screened by players and reacted too late to make the save.
That goal seemed to galvanize Kunlun, while Lokomotiv struggled to maintain any intensity in its game from then on. The outcome was decided by Kunlun’s second line: Martin Bakos converted a neat move involving Sean Collins and Linus Videll to tie the game midway through the middle stanza. Bakos claimed his second goal in successive games, but Videll’s current streak is even hotter. In the 51st minute he popped up with the game-winning goal, making it five points in four games for the Swede. A trademark effort from Tuukka Mantyla made it 3-1 late on and confirmed a notable scalp for Kunlun.
As well as showing the strength of character in the team – both mentally, to shrug off the Metallurg loss, and physically, to meet the demands of back-to-back play – the result highlighted once again that Kunlun is well capable of mixing with traditional powerhouses of the KHL. And, while there are still two-thirds of the regular season to be played, Vladimir Yurzinov’s team can derive great satisfaction from climbing into the playoff spots just a few short months after assembling for the first time.
Next comes a precious day off before our five-game home series comes to an end against Amur Khabarovsk.