30 November 2019
Kunlun Red Star 3 Avangard Omsk 2 OT
Everything looks better at the weekend, and today’s rematch with Avangard proved the point. This wasn’t so much a repeat of Thursday’s match-up, it was more of a remix. Taking the best elements of our performance in a battling shoot-out loss and reworking them to produce a recognizable remake with a better outcome.
The basic outline remained the same: Red Star went in front, fell behind, and battled back. This time, though, we got a much more satisfying finale when Trevor Murphy potted the overtime winner to bring some immediate revenge for that shoot-out loss two days earlier. The result also lifted Kunlun back into the top eight, albeit in a precarious position tied on 34 points with Metallurg and Neftekhimik. Metallurg could overtake us later on Saturday when it plays Salavat Yulaev.
Regardless of the league standings, the Dragons demonstrated once again that the gap between the top teams and chasing pack is not as great as it might appear. This was our fourth meeting with Avangard this season, and we’ve taken five points from a possible eight against the Chernyshev Division leader and last season’s beaten finalist. And with players returning from injury at last, there’s every reason to hope that a winning end to a difficult month can pave the way to better results in the coming weeks.
Gilbert Brule and Jake Chelios were the latest guys to emerge from the treatment room. Saturday saw them both back on the ice, and it was Brule who was all over the opening goal. First, the Canadian forward drew a penalty at the end of the first period when Kirill Semyonov dragged him back as he burst through on Igor Bobkov’s net. Then, at the start of the second period, Brule converted the power play into a goal when he deflected Murphy’s shot past the Avangard goalie.
However, much like Thursday’s game, Avangard hit back to take the lead. Semyon Koshelev, our tormentor during the week, tied the scores before a short-handed effort from Alexei Potapov made it 2-1 to the visitor. The scoreline, though, did not reflect the balance of play in a second period where the Dragons did a good job of neutralizing Avangard’s press and generated the bulk of the offense. The reward came just before the second intermission when Cory Kane prevented Slava Voynov from clearing his lines. The loose puck was collected by Tyler Wong and his feed was rifled home by Spencer Foo, who tied the game with his sixth goal of the season.
Nothing could separate the teams in the third period. Red Star outshot Avangard 12-6, but the balance of play was closer than the stats might suggest and there were few dangerous moments for either goalie to deal with. And so, for the second time in three days, we had a 2-2 tie after 60 minutes.
This time, though, overtime was done quickly. Red Star’s first attack of the extras came when Andrew Miller’s long diagonal sent Murphy into the Avangard zone with Brandon Yip in support. The defenseman didn’t need the help, though, firing a wrister that beat Bobkov stick side and avenged Thursday’s shoot-out loss.
The action in Beijing continues next week. Monday sees us look for a second victory of the season over Vityaz before Spartak comes to visit on Wednesday.