24 October 2021
Spartak Moscow 4 Kunlun Red Star 2
Yet another Dragons’ battling performance away to Spartak failed to yield any reward. On another day, the outcome might have been rather different but on this occasion the home team took its chances while we were often close but too rarely successful.
Sunday’s game featured another debut. Mikhail Abramov, 22, made his first appearance in the KHL today after signing a try-out contract with the Dragons. The forward is well known within the organization, though: in 2018/19 he was top scorer for Heilongjiang in the MHL with 35 (12+23) points. The following year he had a promising rookie campaign in the VHL with ORG Beijing and continued in that league with Lada Togliatti and Metallurg Novokuznetsk before returning to the Dragons’ Lair. Today, he slotted into our second line alongside Tyler Wong and Brandon Yip.
The opening goal of the game rather summed up Red Star’s fortunes. Spartak was on the power play, but a misplaced Jori Lehtera pass almost dropped onto Tyler Wong’s stick. Had the puck stuck, we would have been off on the breakaway; instead it bobbled free and enabled Tim Heed to fire in a shot that Emil Pettersson tipped into the net.
Down by one at the first intermission, Red Star nearly got back on terms early in the second when a marauding raid from Luke Lockhart came close to beating Alexei Krasikov. And ‘nearly’ was a bit of a theme in the middle frame. After nearly tying the scores, the Dragons fell further behind to a Dmitry Kugryshev goal. However, a power play soon afterwards enabled Brandon Yip to halve the deficit when he stuffed the puck home from close range after both the Foo brothers got involved in a scramble in front of Krasikov.
Then ‘nearly’ worked in our favor as a turnover in center ice sparked a one-on-one rush that threatened to present Spartak with a third goal. Smith ensured it was a nearly moment at the other end, snuffing out Alexander Khokhlachyov’s chance. However, the home team did extend its lead on a power play late in the frame when Andrei Loktionov tipped Dmitry Vishnevsky’s point shot beyond Smithy.
There was still time for another ‘nearly’ moment in the closing moments of the frame when Lockhart opened up the home defense once more, only for his feed to bounce away from Parker Foo with the goal at his mercy.
A second goal for our guys did arrive at the start of the third period. Zach Yuen, who in Oct. 2017 became the first Chinese-eligible player to score a point in the KHL with an assist on our game-winner at Spartak, fired in a shot and Tyler Wong somehow forced the puck into the net amid a crazy pile-up of limbs on the home crease. Unfortunately, though, Zach then took a penalty and Lehtera restored the two-goal lead with a power play effort, the Red-and-White’s third PP goal of the game.
There was another ‘nearly’ to come, however, on 58:14 when Nikita Khlystov’s point shot ended up in the Spartak net. Was this the cue for a final surge that might save the game for the Dragons? Sadly not. A video review found that the puck deflected into the net off Zach Yuen’s stick, and the stick was too high. The goal was whistled off, and with it went our last chance of saving the game.