28 January 2020
Spartak Moscow 7 Kunlun Red Star 4
The Dragons’ visit to Spartak turned out to be a wild ride – and one that ended in an almighty crash for our team. The home team took the lead for the first time with 55 minutes played and went on to snaffle the win. It was a game full of incident – 11 goals, one player ejected from the game, a late flurry of fists and even two assists from goalies – but in the end it goes down as an opportunity missed for Red Star.
There was little sign of the carnage to come in the opening stages. Kunlun settled quickly and grabbed the lead after just 81 seconds when Trevor Murphy slotted home a Spencer Foo feed. And it got better: Luke Lockhart doubled the lead in the eighth minute, collecting a loose puck and deking his way past Nikita Bespalov. But the home team fired a warning shot midway through the first period when Kaspars Daugavins unleashed a snorting shot to halve the deficit.
In the second period, Anatoly Nikontsev spurned a chance similar to Lockhart’s first goal, and Lockhart responded by making it 3-1. Foo won possession on Red Star’s blue line, led the rush and squared the puck for Lockhart to fire inside Bespalov’s near post. Game over for the home goalie, but for everyone else the action was just beginning. Daugavins got his second of the game to keep it tight, but the last minute of the middle frame brought an incident that seemed to tip things in our favor. Spartak’s Ilya Arkalov had already upset everyone with a trip on Adam Cracknell and he followed up by turning round and jabbing his stick into Ryan Sproul’s ribs. A skirmish followed before Arkalov was ushered back to the locker room for spearing.
Yet the major penalty did not kill off the game. Instead, Spartak tied the scores on a short-handed goal from Fyodor Malykhin. Tyler Wong was caught out as the Red-and-Whites launched a counter attack, but quickly made amends when he scored on the power play to restore our lead. Jeremy Smith assisted on that play, collecting his second point in the KHL. Spartak even had to kill a 3-on-5 situation, but Julius Hudacek proved more resilient than Bespalov and the Dragons could not take advantage.
Back to even strength, and Andrei Kuteikin tied the scores at 4-4. Then it was our turn to run into penalty trouble and Artyom Fyodorov made it 5-4 with a power play goal on 55:04. Hopes of a fightback were hampered when Andrew Miller took a minor penalty, and all but extinguished when Alexander Khokhlachyov added a sixth. There was still time for another skirmish, resulting in four players heading to the sin bin in the last minute. Red Star had the power play and withdrew Smith to play 6-on-4 for the last 50 seconds. But to no avail. Hudacek stopped the puck at one end, Daugavins collected it to score at the other, giving the final score a flattering look.