Penalty troubles sink Red Star

4 October 2019

Amur Khabarovsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 2

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Two power play goals cost Red Star dear in its game away to Amur. The home team converted half of its penalty opportunities to edge a narrow verdict when the Dragons visited the Tigers. In contrast to Kunlun, our opponent did not incur a single penalty over the course of the 60 minutes.

Losing out to a pair of power play efforts was particularly frustrating given that today Red Star had just 8 penalty minutes. That’s a big improvement for a team that is currently the most penalized in the KHL. In the long run, cutting out the penalties can only help: after today’s game, the 16 goals the Dragons have allowed on the PK represent the second highest total in the league, behind only basement club Dinamo Riga.

Red Star handed a debut to newly-acquired defenseman Denis Osipov and continued without Wojtek Wolski and Mathew Maione, who also sat out the 5-2 win at Barys in our previous game. Jeremy Smith replaced Simon Hrubec in goal as Curt Fraser continues to rotate our netminders. Osipov slotted into the third defensive pairing alongside Mikael Tam; he had 11:49 on the ice in his first game of the season.

It didn’t take long for the action to start flowing. Amur took the lead in the fourth minute through Hynek Zohorna. The Czech scored at the second attempt after Red Star lost possession in its own end. Then chances came quickly at both ends: Tam tested home goalie Evgeny Alikin, Adam Cracknell was denied when through on the net and Amur responded immediately with a chance for Tomas Zohorna at the other end.

Hynek Zohorna thought he had his second of the night, firing into a displaced net as Amur got its first power play. The officials quickly ruled out that goal, but the home team doubled its lead soon after when Vladislav Ushenin redirected a shot from his twin brother Vyacheslav.

The Ushenins have been in good form lately, but so has our own Tyler Wong. He collected his fifth goal of the season to put the Dragons right back into the game within a minute. A superb no-look pass from Spencer Foo sliced open the Amur defense to present Wong with his chance to make it 2-1.

After such an open first period, Red Star succeeded in closing the game down for much of the second. While Amur was limited to just a handful of shots at Smith, our forwards continued to carve out opportunities and got their reward late in the frame when Cory Kane shot through traffic to find the far corner of Alikin’s net and tie the game at 2-2. Another Amur power play – Trevor Murphy again the man in trouble – did not faze our defense. By contrast, a short-handed Kunlun almost forced its way in front through Cracknell as Alikin was forced into a sprawling save.

However, a third power play for the home team at the start of the third period saw Red Star slip behind once again. Smith got behind Michal Jordan’s point shot but the puck bounced out wide to Tomas Zohorna and his quick shot wrong-footed our goalie to restore Amur’s lead.

That goal proved decisive. Having made one big fightback, Kunlun came up just short as it sought to force its way back into the game for a second time. The action continues on Saturday with the final leg of this eight-game road trip taking us to Vladivostok to meet Admiral.

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Kunlun Red Star