Severstal Cherepovets 3 Kunlun Red Star 1
Red Star’s mini-revival stalled against the Steelmen, with a two-game winning streak halted by Severstal. Although the result was disappointing, there were still positives to take from a competitive performance that might – with a different verdict from a crucial video review – have yielded a more tangible reward. Instead, though, defeat here coupled with Neftekhimik’s victory at Amur sends the team back to the foot of the Eastern Conference – although Dinamo Riga’s loss in Yaroslavl confirms that we will not finish the season bottom of the overall KHL standings.
There was nothing wrong with Red Star’s offensive efforts on the day – once again, we fired in more than 40 shots. However, fortune did not favor the Dragons and with one goal ruled out our guys came up just short against a Severstal team fighting to secure a playoff place.
The first period was highly competitive. Alexei Kovalev’s team enjoyed the better of the play and, as the intermission approached, could feel slightly aggrieved to be deadlocked at 0-0. So allowing a goal in the last seconds of the stanza was a real blow. Severstal opened the scoring on 19:29 when Daniil Vovchenko fed the puck back to Vadim Kudako and he ripped a shot through traffic to beat Dmitry Shikin.
The second period continued in similar vein. A good contest, with Kunlun performing well but let down by the final shot. And, as in the opening session, Severstal withstood the pressure and then got a goal. This one came midway through the frame from Nikita Makeyev.
Red Star was denied a swift response when a video review whistled off an effort from Tyler Wong. The move started with Spencer Foo haring through center ice, leaving the home defense in his wake and firing in a shot that Vladislav Podyapolsky could not hold. Wong followed up and stuffed the puck home from close range but was ruled to have fouled the home goalie in the process.
That decision only added to the sense of injustice in our camp. After all, the stats pointed to a performance where the Dragons were doing the right things – getting pucks to the net, winning face-offs, blocking shots – more frequently than the opposition, yet the rewards were not coming.
And feelings of disgruntlement only increased early in the third period when Severstal extended its lead. Kirill Adamchuk, a defensive whose long spell without a goal came to an end last month, fired home his fourth of the season from long range with Shikin unsighted as the puck flew inside his left-hand post.
Some justice was restored – however belatedly – when Wong was awarded a goal. This time it was a shorthanded effort. Viktor Baldayev cleared our lines and moved the puck out left to Wong. Our forward moved into the Severstal zone and fired a shot that cannoned back off the boards, then followed up to get to the slot and force the rebound past Podyapolsky. That made it three goals in three games for Wonger … and all since he got a new haircut.
However, with 13 minutes left, the clock was against us and not even a power play following an offense by Adamchuk could offer a path back into the game. A time out with almost three minutes left, and the decision to replace Shikin with a skater, ensured that there was still hope – especially when Adam Liska was overly energetic in pursuit of a possible empty net goal and picked up a hooking penalty. 6-on-4 play inspired one last push but Severstal killed the penalty and closed out the win.