Yet another successful debut

Source: Club Press-Office



Martin Bakos is the latest Kunlun player to carve himself a little niche in the club’s history. Our Slovak forward scored a shoot-out winner in Ufa and became the first player to win a competitive game for the club outside of regulation.

In its previous 37 games, Kunlun had never faced overtime – and it was only a 58th-minute equalizer from home D-man Denis Kulyash that snapped that run here in Bashkiria. But there was no time for disappointment: a first-ever period of overtime ended goalless and our debut shoot-out beckoned.

Bakos, who had already scored once in regulation, was first up for us. Against him stood Niklas Svedberg, chased from his net during the game after that Bakos goal, but sent back onto the ice to face the shoot-out. The duel went our way; Tomi Karhunen saved from Linus Omark and Maxim Mayorov while Denis Parshin shot wide. A test of nerve was decisively settled in Red Star’s favour.

In regulation, Chad Rau once again underlined his scoring power with a goal and an assist while Karhunen made some important saves in the third period as the home time battled to get back into the game. It was also a good day for Kunlun’s power play: the first and third goals came when we had a man advantage, and the fourth went in three seconds after Salavat Yulaev returned to full strength. In the early part of the season, our PP stats weren’t all that impressive so it’s good to see progress being made here.

As for the goals, Rau was instrumental yet again. His pass set up Janne Jalasvaara’s opener, a thunderous effort from the blue line that converted our first power play in the 10th minute. Then came a lull before the first period ended in a flurry of goals. Kirill Kaprizov brought the home team level on the power play and Denis Parshin came close to putting Salavat Yulaev ahead before Tomi Sallinen made it 2-1 to Red Star.

The Finn started the move behind the net, and after Bakos and Tommi Taimi got involved, he finished it with an emphatic shot from the deep slot to set a cluster of Chinese flags a-flutter in the heart of Bashkiria. That wasn’t enough for a first-period lead, though, as Parshin found the net soon after to send us into the first intermission tied at 2-2.

In past games, especially on the road, second periods have been a problem. All too often this has been the point where Kunlun has lost its way, going on to lose games due to a downturn in the middle stanza. Today we saw the opposite as the team applied the pressure on Ufa, drew penalties and cashed in on those opportunities. Rau scored the first, exchanging passes with Linus Videll before crashing home a one-timer from the right-hand face-off spot. Then, just as Zakhar Arzamastsev was returning to the ice, Bakos got the fourth, opening a two-goal lead for the first time in the game. The Slovak forward shot from the same position as Rau after collecting a pass from Taimi on the blue line. Svedberg, screened, failed to react and Kunlun was in a winning position.

True, there was an immediate scare when it seemed that Salavat Yulaev had got a goal back, but the eagle eye of Vladimir Yurzinov spotted an offside and after our head coach asked the video officials to check the play, Dmitry Makarov’s effort was ruled out. Alexander Loginov pulled one back for the home team late in the second period, but that looked to be all the home team would have to offer until Kulyash’s dramatic late strike offered Salavat Yulaev a stay of execution.

The result adds two more points to Kunlun’s tally and lifts the team to sixth, ahead of Admiral Vladivostok. More importantly, it opens a five-point gap over ninth-placed Sibir, which has also played two games more than our team. Those playoff prospects are looking more realistic than ever as we head to Magnitogorsk and a Saturday showdown with the defending champion, Metallurg.