14 November 2021
Avangard Omsk 5 Kunlun Red Star 0
Saturday’s short trip to Balashikha saw the Dragons catch up on a rescheduled game against defending champion Avangard. We were due to travel here on Sep. 25, but the arena was unavailable on that date so the action was rearranged for the first international break in the season. After a one-week break following our 1-3 loss at home to Sibir, Red Star was able to welcome back some familiar faces after injury lay-offs – but found itself up against an Avangard team with a point to prove after some indifferent recent form.
In the event, this game was all about Alexander Lazushin. Our goalie returned to action to make his 300th appearance in the KHL – and his 52nd for us – and found himself plenty busy as he made more than 50 saves. In the first period alone, he stopped 23 shots as Avangard dominated the game. In fairness to our defense, though, for all the home team dictated much of the play, only a couple of those attempts were anything out of the ordinary for a goalie of Lazer’s experience. The problem came at the other end, where ex-Dragon Simon Hrubec was a virtual spectator.
That pattern continued in the middle frame, with Avangard once again comfortably outshooting Red Star. However, it wasn’t until we ran into penalty trouble that the Hawks got ahead. It started with a minor for Denis Osipov, which was successfully killed. Then, midway through the session, Lazushin was assessed a double minor for a high stick as Pavel Dedunov looked to chase down a rebound behind the net. This time, Avangard turned a man advantage into a goal advantage when Nikolai Prokhorkin slipped the puck to Yaroslav Kosov on the slot and he made no mistake with a close-range finish.
Then came another penalty, this time for Vic Bartley on his return to the team. It all added up to almost six full minutes on the PK and the pressure told. Arseny Gitsyuk, an injury doubt in the build-up to today’s game, demonstrated his return to full fitness with a blistering one-timer off Corban Knight’s cross-ice feed to make it 2-0 to the host. Once again, our forwards were unable to make much of an impression on the game: apart from two shots from Parker Foo, back in the team after injury, the Dragons had nothing to test Hrubec.
At this stage, the shot count was 43-4 in Avangard’s favor yet, with just two goals, the game was still alive. However, the home team stepped up its offensive power at the start of the third and two more quick goals took the outcome out of our reach. Gritsyuk potted the third, breaking clear of the defense and rifling home a wrister from the right-hand dot. Then Dedunov, back in the game after needing treatment following that earlier high sticking incident, redirected an Oliwer Kaski shot to make it four. Dedunov was close to getting his second in the closing stages, but his odd man rush was brilliantly denied by Lazushin. There was time for a fifth in the 58th minute when Dmitry Sokolov marked his KHL debut with a goal.
The Dragons are back in action on Monday with a home game against Amur Khabarovsk. Then there’s a chance for quick revenge on Wednesday when Avangard comes to visit us in Mytishchi.