Early penalties cost Kunlun

28 September 2022

Traktor Chelyabinsk 3 Kunlun Red Star 1

Two early power play goals shaped the outcome of this game – and once again things did not go Red Star’s way.

Not for the first time this season, the Dragons were missing key components of the offense. Tyler Wong remains injured after that bruising blow against SKA and today Luke Lockhart, our most experienced player in this league, was also unavailable. That meant Alex Perevalov moved to the top line for Wednesday’s trip to Chelyabinsk.

After allowing five power play goals in our previous game, the emphasis had to be on staying out of the box. So, a penalty for Garet Hunt after 71 seconds was far from an ideal start. To make matters worse, Traktor quickly took advantage and Anton Burdasov opened the scoring. Since Burdasov returned to his hometown team, he’s made a habit of starting fast – this was his fifth goal of the season, and his fourth inside the first four minutes of a game.

It wasn’t long before Traktor had another power play, and another goal. This time Ivan Lisin was called for tripping and Sergei Kalinin deflected Burdasov’s shot past Jeremy Smith.

When the teams were at equal strength, though, the Dragons were capable of competing with their host. The solution was clear: stay out of the box. Kunlun managed that for the rest of the period and sustained no further damage.

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Indeed, it got better. Late in the opening frame, Traktor’s Sergei Karpukhin received his team’s first penalty of the night. Thus, Red Star began the second stanza on the front foot. True, the power play did not produce a goal. However, Karpukhin had barely returned to the game when our guys pulled one back. Ryan Sproul brought the puck down the right flank and looked to return a pass to Parker Foo. An attempted interception by the home defense dropped kindly for our man and Sproully was able to battle his way to the slot and beat Ilya Proskuryakov.

That was very much game on. Traktor’s early season inconsistency meant that Anvar Gatiyatulin’s team was vulnerable to a sudden loss of self-assurance and in the second period the Dragons enjoyed more possession and posed a greater attacking threat. However, with our current depleted offense, turning that into more goals proved a step too far and the teams went into the second break with the host up 2-1.

Now the stakes were rising with every passing minute. Both teams knew how important that next goal would be in shaping the outcome of the game, and that led to a cagey start to the third. Young Lisin was among the more eye-catching of the Red Star forwards, demonstrating how he is developing with regular opportunities at this level. However, at the other end the veteran Burdasov was also prominent and his thunderbolt midway through the frame effectively decided the outcome. A two-goal lead was too much for Kunlun to break down and another road trip ended in disappointment.

From Chelyabinsk, the Dragons fly back to Mytishchi where our next home stand begins Saturday. CSKA is the visitor, and a repeat of our earlier victory over the defending champion would be the perfect start to October’s schedule.

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