26 September 2022
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 6 Kunlun Red Star 1
Winter is coming. The Dragons landed in Yekaterinburg to be greeted by snow flurries on the way to today’s game. And, after 60 minutes of action at the Uralets Arena, our guys were largely frozen out by an impressive home team that demonstrated why it’s among the early leaders in the Eastern Conference.
Recent visits to the capital of the Urals have been painful and today’s game ended in a third successive heavy loss here. The 1-6 scoreline was all the more disappointing because it would be hard to argue it did not reflect the balance of play. Avto had 21:29 in attacking possession, against 8:29 for Red Star. The shot count was 43-19 in the home team’s favor, and the Motormen had 81 goal attempts in 60 minutes. Taking 10 penalties fatally undermined our prospects here, with five of the six goals coming on the home power play.
Looking for positives? Well, how about the return of Brandon Yip? Our captain had to miss the last three games due to injury but was back on the team today. Not only that, he returned with his first goal of the season. That came late in the first period, a well-worked power play move that saw Yipper find space in front of Johan Mattsson’s net before steering home Ryan Sproul’s pin-point feed from the left-hand circle.
That goal saw us go into the first intermission down 1-2, having previously allowed power play tallies for Brooks Macek and Nick Ebert. It also gave us a first tally in Yekaterinburg since September 2019. Since then, Red Star suffered two heavy losses here; today’s first period at least offered hope that we could make a game of it this time.
However, early in the second period the game got away from the Dragons. Sergei Shirokov continued his hot form this season, scoring twice in two minutes. His first took him to 200 KHL goals, his second gave Avtomobilist its third power play goal of the game. From then on, it was damage limitation. A confident Avto team was eager to strut its stuff and, not for the first time, it took plenty of hard work from Jeremy Smith to keep the score down.
The second intermission allowed Red Star to regroup and the third period saw our offense return to the game. After managing just two shots on goal in the middle frame, our guys posed a bigger threat in the third. Alexander Perevalov forced Mattsson into a glove save, Brett Pollock sent a sizzling pass to the far post where Cory Kane was inches away from touching it into an open net but the Motormen survived without giving up any further goals.
Then, in the closing stages, the home team finished the job with two more efforts on the power play. Georgy Belousov squeezed a shot in off the far post to make it 5-1, then Curtis Valk’s one-timer wrapped up one of the slickest moves of the game.
Kunlun wraps up its latest road trip at Traktor on Wednesday, hoping to secure its first road win of the season.