Feel the power
Source: Club Press-Office
METALLURG NOVOKUZNETSK 2 KUNLUN RED STAR 4
A great day for our power play set up a win that offers some vital breathing space in the battle for a playoff place. After two successive losses, three points in Novokuznetsk are a much-needed tonic – and lift Kunlun back into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Although Metallurg came into the game doomed to finish bottom of the KHL table, recent form suggested that the team was not content to drift into the close season without a fight. Playing its last home game of the season, Kuznya wanted to put on a show for its fans and edged an even first period when Kirill Semyonov opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
That opening stanza saw Kunlun enjoy two power plays without finding the net, but that was put right in the rest of the game as our team scored three times when it had a numerical advantage. The second period was a truly dominant display – three unanswered goals, a 14-4 lead on the shot count – and turned the game decisively in our favor.
Linus Videll got things moving in the 26th minute. Chad Rau’s backhand pass off the boards sent the Swede surging into the Metallurg zone, where he evaded the despairing lunge of Eduard Mikhailov and won his duel with Rafael Khakimov. Then came the PP. Just after the half-hour, Nikita Lyamkin got an interference call. Tobias Viklund took advantage, crashing a shot off the underside of the bar. The referee initially waved ‘play on’, but at the next break in play the video official confirmed that the puck had crossed the line. Immediately, Kuznya was short-handed again, this time on a slashing call for Alexei Vasilchenko. This time Max Warn delivered the punishment, snapping off a one-timer to put Damien Fleury’s pass beyond the reach of Khakimov.
In the third period Metallurg got a goal back early on through Timur Fatikullin, but couldn’t stay out of the sinbin. Penalty trouble handed Videll the chance to wrap up the points with his second of the game – and his sixth point in the last four appearances. This time, Rau fed Sean Collins for a shot from the deep slot and after Khakimov blocked the initial effort, Videll was on hand to stuff home the rebound.
It all added up to another impressive display from the Kunlun PP, which now has a 22.2% success rate, the fifth best in the KHL and the third strongest in the Eastern Conference. In 57 games, we’ve scored 47 power play goals – more than a third of our team’s total. It’s a figure that serves as a warning to any opponent, in regular season or playoff, that this team always poses an offensive threat.
As for the playoff picture, that’s also a little clearer. Our victory moves us ahead of Salavat Yulaev, while Sibir failed to pick up points from its game against Amur. As a result, Kunlun opened a four-point gap to ninth place, with three games to play.
The KHL takes a short break next week as five our players – Finns Joonas Jarvinen and Tomi Sallinen, Slovaks Martin Bakos and Tomas Marcinko as well as Frenchman Damien Fleury – were called up for international duty. Kunlun returns to action on February 14 with a trip to Vityaz to commence its final road trip of regular season. Following the game in Moscow Region, we go to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on Feb. 16 before finishing up at Dynamo Moscow on the 18th.