27 October 2021
Kunlun Red Star 2 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 4
For the third game running, the Dragons suffered the frustration of a goal ruled out on a video review. And, as is so often the case, disappointment at failing to score was compounded by allowing a goal at the other end. Today we went from 2-2 to 1-3 in barely a minute, and could not recover in time to salvage anything from the visit of Neftekhimik.
After a difficult four-game road trip, Red Star made some changes for Tuesday’s brief return to Mytishchi. Goalie Igor Saprykin started for the first time since joining us on a try-out contract last week. It’s not his first time at the club: he was part of our pre-season roster ahead of the 2020/21 season, but never featured in a KHL game with us. Today represents his first action in this league for any club other than Vityaz. On defense, Vic Bartley and Denis Osipov returned to the line-up. For Bartley, it’s a welcome return after a 10-day absence; for Osipov, the break was a single game.
Neftekhimik opened the scoring with a goal after 12 minutes. Technically, it wasn’t a short-handed goal as Timur Khafizov was just stepping out of the penalty box when the puck hit the net. In reality, though, the play came as our PP broke down and former Red Star man Mikhail Sidorov released Dan Sexton on a three-on-one rush. The American forward evaded Nikita Khlystov’s lunging challenge and fired past Saprykin. However, the response was almost immediate: the Dragons went to the other end and tied it up when Parker Foo burst down the right-hand channel, faked to pass inside for his brother and instead slipped the puck through Alexander Sudnitsin’s pads. Sam Hu was among the assists on this one.
Unfortunately, our guys were unable to build on that and fell behind once again as Neftekhimik grabbed a power play goal. This time, Czech defenseman Lukas Klok was the scorer, firing home a long-range effort as Brandon Yip sat out a delaying the game minor. The home power play had its chances, with Khafizov twice sinbinned in the first period, but at the interval we were down 2-1.
Early in the second, though, we got another chance to test our power play when Kirill Vorobyov took a double minor for high sticks. This time, Red Star thought it had a tying goal with Parker Foo again doing the damage. He charged down the left, just about escaped the desperate attentions of Maxim Berezin on the visitor’s defense and, as he fell, managed to lift the puck over Sudnitsin and off the underside of the board. However, a video review followed and ruled that the puck had not fully crossed the line. For the third game running, we had a goal whistled off and then, to make matters worse, Neftekhimik potted another short-handed goal through Khafizov.
Late in the frame, our power play came good and this time there was no question about Tyler Wong’s goal. Yip and Ethan Werek combined behind the net, and Wong moved in from the corner to find a shooting lane from the right-hand circle and beat Sudnitsin. That’s Wonger’s seventh of the season, matching his tally from last term, and it ensured this game was very much on.
Unfortunately, despite that boost, we were unable to get back into it in the third. Instead, Neftekhimik added another goal midway through the session and closed out the game to record a win that lifts it into the playoff places. The Dragons have a short pause to prepare for the next road trip, which starts on Saturday in Yekaterinburg.