Stayin’ alive! Kunlun takes the series back to Magnitogorsk

Source: Club Press-Office


(Metallurg leads the series 3-1)

This was a night that will live long in the memories of all who were there, and all who played a part in it. The bell for ‘last orders’ was ringing in the last chance saloon, Kunlun was nurturing the faintest of hopes in this playoff series … yet a sensational display at both ends of the ice delivered an unforgettable victory, frustrating the defending champion and giving another 7,000+ crowd in Beijing an occasion to savor. It might only be one battle in the playoff campaign, but the delight at winning a game against Metallurg for the first time in six attempts this season was all too obvious. Once again, our team confounded expectations and came up with a big performance when it counted.

The heroics started in our net. Tomi Karhunen faced down a storm of Metallurg offense, making 32 saves to keep one of the KHL’s deadliest strikeforces quiet. Only a power play goal deep in the second period got past him.

Then there was some rock solid defense, especially in the third period. With Metallurg chasing the game, our blue-liners limited them to just eight attempts on goal. The fearsome combination of Mozyakin, Kovar and Zaripov mustered a solitary shot between them. Karhunen had all the answers, and our team closed out the victory.

But all of that, of course, means nothing with scoring goals ourselves. The first period, in particular, was a masterclass of finishing. Despite being restricted to just five shots, Kunlun got two goals and claimed a stranglehold on the game. Martin Bakos opened the scoring in the ninth minute, redirecting a Joonas Jarvinen pass beyond Vasily Koshechkin. Then, after weathering the pressure from Magnitka, Chad Rau doubled that advantage just before the intermission. Linus Videll launched another raid deep into Metallurg territory, recalling his spectacular goal on Sunday. This time, though, he got behind the net and found Tuukka Mantyla, whose vision enabled him to pick out the unmarked Rau coming in on Koshechkin’s blind side. An inch-perfect pass just begged to be fired into the net and Rau duly obliged. Our leading scorer in the regular season opened his playoff account, and for the first time in the series Red Star had a measure of control in the game.

It got better in the middle session when Tommi Taimi scored on the power play to make it 3-0 and chase Koshechkin from the net. The pattern of play was more even, and apart from Viktor Antipin’s goal two seconds before the intermission, Kunlun seemed to be well in control of its destiny. The final stanza was all about defense. Metallurg battled hard to find a way through, but its attacks foundered against the great wall of Kunlun’s defense. The final hooter brought another landmark in our club’s short history and extends our season for at least one more game.

But why stop at just one? Having finally found a way to defeat Metallurg, the next task is to repeat that achievement on the road and bring this series back to China once again. The next instalment is on Thursday … don’t miss it.