Bakos double isn’t quite enough

Source: Club Press-Office



The season is fast approaching the business end, and all around the Eastern Conference, nerves are starting to fray.

This time around, the race for a playoff spot is more intense than ever – with Kunlun right in the thick of things. Going into Monday’s home game against in-form Dynamo Moscow, Red Star had 66 points from 46 games, good enough for eighth place and one win shy of climbing to sixth. But those promising prospects were offset by the knowledge that below us, outside the playoff zone, lurked Neftekhimik on 66 points and Sibir on 65. There isn’t much margin for error in this race as five teams are separated by just three points, although Kunlun does have one ace up its sleeve, having played fewer games than most of its immediate rivals.

The visit of Dynamo was always likely to be a tough examination: the Blue-and-Whites arrived on the back of three straight wins, and goalie Alexander Yeryomenko had picked up December’s player-of-the-month award after some almost impregnable shows. Our own offense, not always at its best in recent games, would need to hit the heights to make an impact here.

Happily, that’s how things started out. Zach Yuen, our versatile utility man, typifies the team’s commitment to give everything in every shift. Today he was deployed as a center, and created the opening goal in the sixth minute as he wrestled control of the puck behind Dynamo’s net and squirted it back into the danger zone. Tuukka Mantyla stepped up from the point to collect it and launched a powerful shot from the top of the circle to beat Yeryomenko.

Sadly, that advantage did not last long. Denis Kokarev led a Dynamo breakaway and found Konstantin Gorovikov for the equalizer. Having exchanged fire, both teams adopted a more circumspect game, with Dynamo’s well-drilled defense showing just why Yeryomenko’s recent GAA numbers have been so impressive.

The second period saw Kunlun in front again – and Dynamo respond even more quickly. Martin Bakos got the second goal, applying the vital touch to a booming shot from Sergei Peretyagin and deflecting the puck past Alexander Yeryomenko. For Peretyagin, a stay-at-home blue-liner of the old school, the assist was his first point of a season profitably spent intimidating opposing forwards rather than terrorizing opposition goalies. Once again, though, Dynamo responded fast, with Artyom Fyodorov tying the scores at 2-2.

Bakos was also our key man in the third, making it 3-3 after Vladimir Bryukvin put the visitor in front for the first time in the 43rd minute. Once again, Bakos combined with his fellow Slovak Tomas Marcinko, before firing a rising shot beyond Yeryomenko. With just under five minutes left, there was everything to play for.

Unfortunately, that goal was not enough to spark Kunlun’s push for victory. Instead, as this game entered its closing stages, Dynamo snatched the points. Ilya Nikulin made it 3-4 in the 59th minute and Kokarev wrapped it up with an empty-net goal.
The playoff picture remains almost unchanged: no ground lost to the chasing pack, but no advantage claimed either. Our next chance to boost those post-season prospects comes around quickly, with Vityaz visiting Beijing tomorrow.