Mantyla scores twice as Red Star shows playoff spirit

Source: Club Press-Office


(Metallurg leads the series 1-0)

Kunlun’s first taste of playoff action was a bitter-sweet affair. For the second time this season, a battling performance against an impressive Metallurg Magnitogorsk team ended in a 4-2 away loss, but once again the margins between victory and defeat proved to be smaller than the box scores might suggest.

A fatal lapse early in the second period, which gifted Magnitka two goals in seven seconds, ultimately settled a game. Those goals, a second for Tomas Filippi and a deflected effort from Yaroslav Kosov, took the score from 0-1 to 0-3 in the blinking of an eye, and left our team with too much to do to salvage the game.

Yet, had another deflection late in the first period bounced kindly for Max Warn, the whole game might have been very different. Kunlun had done well to steady any nerves after Filippi put Metallurg in front in the eighth minute – a goal that came when an attempted breakaway was quickly snuffed out by Chris Lee. The game was even, and when Warn got his stick on a dangerous slap shot right in front of the home net, his deflection left goalie Ilya Samsonov stranded on the wrong side of the goal. Sadly for Red Star, the puck flashed agonizingly outside the post; Metallurg saved by a matter of millimeters.

Then came that double blow, and for a time the home team enjoyed complete control. Andrei Makarov came into the game to replace the shell-shocked Tomi Karhunen and he immediately faced a fusillade of shots as the Eastern Conference’s top team scented blood. Makarov did well to limit Magnitka to a power play goal, forced home by Viktor Antipin.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though. Despite facing an almost hopeless task, Kunlun showed great determination and fought for everything. Tuukka Mantyla claimed the honor of scoring our first ever playoff goal, thumping in a slap shot in the 43rd minute. The Finnish D-man added a second with 10 minutes left, helped by the distracting presence of Oleg Yashin in front of Samsonov, and suddenly Metallurg had some cause for concern.

This time, the great escape proved beyond our team. The defending champ held on to secure the win and take the early initiative in this best-of-seven series. But throughout the season, Vladimir Yurzinov and his players have been quick to learn from adversity. Today’s lesson suggests that the distance between our Dragons and the masters of Magnitogorsk is not unbridgeable; Friday brings us a chance to prove that we can compete and ensure the series is wide open when the action moves back to Beijing at the weekend.