3 October 2018
Back in Red Star’s first season of KHL action, Artyom Zagidulin had a brief but productive spell with our team. Although the young goalie only made six appearances while on loan from Metallurg, he picked up three wins and an impressive 94.7% SVG.
Today, we had a chance to renew acquaintance with our old friend as he lined up against Kunlun for Metallurg. That wasn’t the only familiar detail in this game: of all the teams in the KHL, Magnitka has been our most frequent opponent – due in part to the playoff series between the two teams back in 2016-17. And Wojtek Wolski, who began last season with Red Star, also lined up against us this time.
As for Red Star’s line-up, the absence of Victor Bartley and Johan Sundstrom, both suspended for one game, posed some selection problems. Ondrej Vitasek also sat this one out with a minor injury. All three should be available for the next game against Traktor. On the plus side, Blake Parlett returned to fitness in time to make his 100th appearance in the KHL but couldn’t mark that milestone with a victory.
“We didn’t play badly,” said head coach Jussi Tapola. “But we weren’t as good as we hoped we could be. Before this game we had a good road trip and we could see our play was getting better and better. We were counting on that progress continuing. However, it didn’t quite happen: like I said, we didn’t play badly but we weren’t good enough to get a win against a team of Metallurg’s quality.
“At times we were too cautious, at times we overplayed and we didn’t get enough shots on the net. We created some half chances but we couldn’t take them. And a team like Magnitka doesn’t need many opportunities, a team of that class is very good at taking its chances.”
And that, indeed, proved to be the difference. In the opening stages, Red Star had the better of the game. Magnitka rarely got into home territory except on the power play, and even then it struggled to create much danger around Alexander Lazushin’s net. However, in the second period Viktor Antipin opened the scoring for the visitor and set Metallurg on the way to a repeat of the 3-1 scoreline it enjoyed when we met in the Urals back in September. Things weren’t so comfortable for the visitor this time, however: it took a pair of goals from summer signing Pavel Varfolomeyev late in the third period to finally take the game away from Kunlun, and even then Brandon Yip had time to deny Zagidulin a shut-out in the finals seconds of the game.
Next up, it’s Traktor coming to Shanghai. Last season, as you may recall, we did not play at home against the Chelyabinsk team: the fixture was rescheduled and played on the road. This season, hopefully with some defensive reinforcements available, we get a chance to remind the team from ‘Tankograd’ what it’s like to try and storm a Chinese fortress.