26 November 2021
Kunlun Red Star 4 Spartak Moscow 6
A good start wasn’t enough for the Dragons in Thursday’s clash with Spartak. Despite jumping to a 2-0 lead, our guys could not hold on and a disappointing second period cost us the points.
Captain Brandon Yip was back in action after his two-game ban, and he made an early impact with an assist as Cliff Pu opened the scoring on 3:22. Pu, one of our more recent recruits, fired home off Ryan Sproul’s pass to claim his second of the season and give Red Star the perfect start.
And it got even better in the seventh minute, when Spencer Foo grabbed his 10th of a productive campaign. Vic Bartley dumped the puck behind the Spartak net, Spencer chased it down and emerged to whip in a wrister that left Oscar Dansk with no chance. Ten goals for Foozie represents his best return in the KHL; he’s just two points shy of his best points tally as well. In between those goals, Parker Foo dinged one off the Swedish goalie’s crossbar as the Dragons threatened to run riot in the early stages.
Instead, though, Spartak got back into the game when Emil Pettersson pulled a goal back. And, late in the opening frame, the visitor tied the scores through Alexander Khokhlachyov. The Red-and-Whites thought they should have had a third in the closing moments, but Lazushin came up with a big save to deny Jake Virtanen.
The middle frame began with two quick goals from Alexander Nikishin, the first on the power play, before Khokhlachyov got his second of the game to take the scoreline away from Red Star. In the middle of all that, Ethan Werek saw Dansk deny him from close range – one of many frustrating moments for our guys in the second period.
We did get the puck in the net again, with Jake Chelios seizing a loose puck and shooting home from the blue line, but it could have been so much more with some kinder bounces at the crucial moment. Ty Schultz, for example, got his shot beyond Dansk but not quite over the line. Parker Foo’s rush handed Lockhart a chance from close range, but the Swede made the save. And Chelios was close to his second of the game, only for the shot to whistle just past the post. At the other end, a breakdown saw Jori Lehtera force the turnover and break clear to make it 6-3. The Finnish forward also had three assists in a starring role for his team.
The pattern of play was one of missed chances for Red Star and clinical finishing from Spartak. And half of that continued in the third as we battled hard to get back into the game but struggled to find a way past Dansk. The Dragons did have one more goal to celebrate, Parker Foo scoring late on, but by then it was too late to save the game.
The Dragons are back in action on Sunday against Metallurg. The league leader outdid Spartak’s fightback yesterday, recovering from 0-4 to beat Dinamo Minsk, so this promises to be another game full of goals and incident.