Goaltending blunders, goaltending heroics: Kunlun misses out in a roller-coaster game
Source: Club Press-Office
KUNLUN RED STAR 2 DINAMO MINSK 3 (SO)
A crowd of more than 7,000 came to the Le Sports Center to see another battling Kunlun performance – and they left with their team one point closer to its playoff target.
A 2-2 tie in regulation gave Red Star a share of the spoils against Dinamo Minsk, even though the visitor claimed the bonus point after winning the shoot-out lottery. And that solitary point ensures that Kunlun will hold on to seventh place at the close of play in Saturday’s late games.
The increased attendance indicates how well the club is spreading the word about hockey in China. The crowd at this game would be too large to accommodate in three of the arenas hosting KHL on Saturday, highlighting a healthy demand for our game among the Chinese public. Inevitably, though, with many in the arena coming to watch the sport for the first time ever, there’s some additional pressure on our players to put on a show and deliver a strong performance. Taking the lead twice, and forcing the contest to go the full distance to a shoot-out, shows that once again we have a team capable of competing with anyone in this league; a commitment to the cause that can’t help but encourage supporters to get behind what the club is striving to achieve.
Kunlun opened the scoring on 10 minutes, with its second short-handed goal in successive games. Last time Sean Collins fed Chad Rau for the marker, this time the roles were reversed. But the box scores don’t reflect the single most significant contribution to the goal – a catastrophic error from visiting goalie Ben Scrivens. He came out of his net to meet Rau’s hopeful play up the ice, failed to make contact with the puck and watched in horror as Collins came steaming past him to tap it into an empty net.
Dinamo’s next power play was more successful for the visitor, with Fredrik Pettersson tying the scores, but it took just 46 seconds for Kunlun to regain the lead. Rau got the helper again, feeding Tommi Taimi at the top of the right-hand circle, and the Finnish defenseman let rip with a wrister past Scrivens.
The second period saw Dinamo create more chances, but it took a 2+2 penalty for Tomi Sallinen to give the visitor the opportunity to tie the scores again. Red Star held out for all but 10 seconds of the penalty before Evgeny Lisovets made it 2-2.
Into the final stanza, and neither team could find a winning goal. In the early stages, Dinamo looked the stronger, but two Kunlun power plays in the last five minutes shifted the momentum back towards our team. Even so, Tommi Karhunen had to be at his best with 90 seconds remaining as Andrei Stas set off on a solo rush that took him from one end of the ice to the other only to be denied by the Finn’s pads.
Overtime could not produce a winner, but the shoot-out gave Scrivens a chance to atone for his earlier error and sadly for Kunlun, the Canadian did just that. He denied Damien Fleury and Joonas Enlund, while at the other end Pettersson beat Karhunen with some neat puck handling before Aaron Palushaj put his effort on the top shelf to win the game for the Belarusians.
Despite the loss, Kunlun remains in seventh place. The point earned in the tie lifts us to 70 for the season, one and three ahead of Admiral and Neftekhimik respectively. The action continues in Beijing on Monday when Dinamo Riga comes to town.