21 September 2021
Sibir Novosibirsk 1 Kunlun Red Star 0
A courageous goaltending performance from Alexander Lazushin kept the Dragons in this game until the final seconds, but could not save the team from another defeat. Lazer stopped 37 of the shots he faced, including a penalty shot from home captain Yegor Milovzorov in a resilient display. At the other end, though, Red Star was out of luck – most notably late in the game when a Brandon Yip shot rattled against the piping before dropping to safety.
Ivano Zanatta went with the same line-up that lost 1-4 in Chelyabinsk on Saturday, although Jeremy Smith was back on the roster as the back-up goalie. And he was rewarded with a better defensive display in Novosbirsk. The change of emphasis came at both ends of the ice, as after a slow start the Dragons quickly adapted to their task and had an even share of the first-period play. Lazushin had a couple of big moments, denying Alexander Sharov in a one-on-one and later galloping out of his goal to chase down the same player, only to lose track of his surroundings and look on in relief as youngster Sergei Dubakin was unable to make the most of the opportunity.
But there were also opportunities for our offense, with Tyler Wong having the best of them as the team grew into the contest.
The opening exchanges of the middle frame were also very even and it was a tough blow when Sibir got in front. More frustrating still, the goal went to Anton Wedin, a Swedish import whose first steps in the KHL were proving difficult. In four previous appearances, he had yet to register a point; today he collected a pass from former Dragon Alexei Kruchinin and advanced down the right-hand channel before angling a shot past Lazushin.
Next came a big penalty kill as Sibir went for the jugular. Denis Golubev unloaded from the deep slot, beating Lazer but seeing his effort rubbed off following Zanatta’s challenge over a clear offside in the build-up. Then Oleg Li found the inside of the post, only for the puck to come flying to safety behind Lazushin’s back.
But Red Star hung in there and created opportunities in the third that might have saved the game. Unfortunately, a combination of Harri Sateri’s goaltending and a lack of puck luck at the crucial moment saw Sibir claim a shut-out. The final moments were full of incident, with Jake Chelios hauling down Yegor Milovzorov in front of the net, only for Lazushin to outwit the home forward on his penalty shot. Then, amid time-outs for both teams, the Dragons launched a final storm with our goalie getting a well-earned break on the bench. Yip was millimeters away from saving the game, but his effort stayed out and the clock ran down on a narrow win for the home team.