Fast start leaves Dragons with too much to do

7 November 2021

Kunlun Red Star 1 Sibir Novosibirsk 3

The Dragons returned to Mytishchi full of optimism after winning back-to-back games on the road and climbing off the foot of the KHL standings. There was also recognition from outside the club, with Spencer Foo’s goal against CSKA shortlisted in the KHL’s Goal of the Month charts for October.

However, it was important not to underestimate our visitor: Sibir had won five of its previous six games to move into the playoff zone. Andrei Martemyanov’s team came to us looking to consolidate that success – and it took just 12 seconds for the visitor to give our growing confidence a serious jolt.

That was the time it took for Sibir to open the scoring in this game, with Alexander Sharov beating Jeremy Smith in the first shift. Allowing a goal so early, of course, is always a psychological blow: it’s impossible to identify the necessary tactical shifts when there is so little play to inform that decision.

And our misfortunes continued. Sibir kept up the pressure and got a second goal in the fourth minute, this time with a bad bounce helping Vyacheslav Litovchenko double the lead. After that, we were able to get a foothold in the game but found an opponent that could afford to defend deep and focus on spoiling our game, secure in the knowledge that it had a lead to protect. Nikita Khlystov’s long-range shots were our most prominent weapon in the first period, but it was tough to create much work for Harri Sateri in the visitor’s net.

The middle frame saw a few half chances – Foo went close on an early power play, for example. Denis Osipov also enlivened his 400th KHL appearance, delivering a mighty hit on Sergei Dubakin only to draw an interference minor for his troubles. On the PK, Zach Yuen forced a turnover in center ice and also presented Foo with a shorthanded goal. Once again, puck luck deserted our team at the crucial moment and the middle frame ended goalless.

After allowing a quick goal in the first period, we suffered the same fate in the third. This time it was ex-Dragon Alexei Kruchinin who did the damage after an exchange of passes with Nick Shore.


In the end, we managed to pull one goal back on the power play midway through the final stanza. Clifford Pu’s screen took Sateri out of the game and Jason Fram’s long-range effort made it 1-3. Soon after that, the Dragons got another power play. This time, though, it did not work out so well. An error on a line change resulted in a bench minor on our guys and the opportunity was gone. With it went the game.

Saturday’s action was our last for a week. The KHL is heading into the international break, with many players joining their national teams for Euro Tour action. We play again next Saturday, a rearranged road game at Avangard, before a couple of home games to follow.

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