Winning start to European road trip

Source: Club Press-Office



There was no sign of travel sickness as Kunlun Red Star powered to all three points at Dinamo Riga.

Despite making the long trip to the Baltic without Miika Lahti, Max Warn and Joonas Jarvinen, the Chinese team found its reshuffled top line of Chad Rau, Sean Collins and Linus Videll proved just as potent as Rau’s prosperous partnership with Lahti and Warn.

Admittedly it took time for the new unit to gel. The first period was a disjointed affair; neither team seemed to have regained the momentum that faded during the week-long international break and chances were at a premium in an error-strewn session. Dinamo broke the deadlock in the ninth minute; Andrei Makarov denied Gunars Skvorcovs on the rush but was beaten to the rebound by Pyotr Schastlivy.

Head coach Vladimir Yurzinov had plenty to talk about in the first intermission, and his words clearly had an impact as the team finally found its rhythm. The pace picked up, chances started coming more frequently and it was only a matter of time before goals followed.

Kunlun’s new-look first line delivered the first blow: Videll tied the game from close range on a power play in the 25th minute, then added an assist as Rau put Red Star in front seven minutes later. From that point Yurzinov’s men never looked back. Martin Bakos made it 3-1 at 35:58 with a precise long-distance shot on another power play.

Having proved that its special teams were on the money on the PP, Kunlun went on to show it mettle on the PK. The third period brought two shorthanded goals to end Dinamo’s hopes. In the 42nd minute Oleg Yashin finished his breakaway with a deadly wrist-shot and at 49:09 Rau scored his second of the night. This was a highly unusual goal as Dinamo boss Normunds Sejejs decided to pull the goalie for a sixth skater right after Tomas Marcinko was sent to the penalty box. At 4-1 with 11 minutes to play, Sejejs must have thought that the game could still be salvaged but that hope was dead and buried after just five seconds. Sean Collins won the face-off in the D-zone, Rau got the puck and sent it high in the air towards hosts’ empty net.

Fittingly enough, this was not the end. There was still enough time for Patrick Mullen to convert the power play but it was too late to affect the result. Even though nine-and-a-half minutes remained for the Latvians to try to retrieve a three-goal deficit, Kunlun was in complete control and saw out the closing stages without any great alarms for Makarov and his D-men.

Our team began its mini Euro Tour with its biggest road win to date and moves on to 39 points from 26 games. That puts Kunlun seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a five-point cushion over Barys Astana and Sibir Novosibirsk, two teams currently striving to break into the playoff places.