29 November 2021
Kunlun Red Star 1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5
The KHL’s leader came to Mytishchi and powered to a comfortable victory. After taking control early on, Metallurg was in no mood to relinquish control of the game and the Dragons struggled to make an impression against a powerful opponent, despite a highlight reel save from Jeremy Smith in the second period.
There was a boost for Red Star going into this game with defenseman Colin Joe returning to action. The 33-year-old picked up an injury back on Sep. 6 against Dinamo Riga in only his third appearance in the KHL but is fit again at last and joined Vic Bartley on our second defensive pair.
The game could hardly have got off to a worse start for the Dragons. From the opening face-off, Metallurg won possession and immediately launched an attack that led to the opening goal. There was more than a whiff of offside as Artyom Zemchyonok’s long pass sent the puck into our zone off a defenseman’s skate, but out bench challenge was tossed out by the officials. In the event, Josh Currie steered the puck into the path of Andrei Chibisov who scored from close range. And that failed challenge put the home team straight onto the PK.
The bench minor was not such a fearsome test: before it expired, Philippe Maillet took a slashing minor to even the sides but once everyone was back at full strength, Magnitka struck again with a breakaway goal from Nikolai Goldobin doubling the visitor’s lead.
Rocked by that start, Red Star struggled to get into the game in the first period. However, a power play enabled Tyler Wong to pull a goal back in the 14th minute with a neat piece of skill. He collected a pass from Ryan Sproul and manoeuvred defenseman Alexei Maklyukov into position before firing through his legs and beyond the grasp of Juho Olkinuora.
However, this was not the start of the road to recovery. The league leader continued to dominate the play and held a 33-16 advantage on the shot count by the end of the second period. It was testimony to Jeremy Smith’s goaltending that all those attempts yielded just one more goal, scored by Brendan Leipsic on the power play late in the middle frame. Among Smith’s many bright moments in the game, the highlight came early in the second period when he managed to scramble back across his net to rob Anatoly Nikontsev of a virtual open net chance off Leipsic’s feed.
Check out the highlight reels for this week, month, season … it’s going to be there.
Early in the third, though, Metallurg added a fourth goal through Arkhip Neklenko and that extended the visitor’s lead beyond what Red Star could reasonably hope to recover. The Nikontsev-Leipsic combo that was denied so spectacularly earlier in the game got its goal in the 47th minute as the Canadian potted his second of the evening. Indeed, this encounter was turning into a personal battle between the Metallurg forward and our goalie: moments later, Smith pulled off yet another big save to deny Leipsic a hat-trick.
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