Chelios returns, but Ak Bars proves too strong

19 December 2022

Ak Bars Kazan 3 Kunlun Red Star 1

The big news ahead of this game was the return of Jake Chelios. Our influential defenseman has been missing through injury since Oct. 26 and it was great to welcome him back to the third pair here.

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Unfortunately, Chelly’s return could not deliver any points from a tough trip to Kazan. The host’s special teams proved too strong on the night despite a battling display from the Dragons. Things might have been very different if Devin Brosseau’s redirect from Ryan Sproul’s shot had found its way inside the post early on. Instead, it bounced off the piping to safety and Ak Bars escaped.

Not long after that, the home team had the lead when Stanislav Galiyev converted the first power play of the game. A minute later, KRS got its first PP chance, but on this occasion, things did not work out well for the Dragons. An unfortunate bounce invited Ak Bars to counterattack and Dmitry Voronkov doubled the lead.

Early in the second period, Garet Hunt displayed his peacemaking attributes once again. He took exception to a foul on Tyler Wong and stepped up for his team-mate, remonstrating at length with Ilya Safonov. That clash racked up the PIMs for both teams but did not affect the scoreline.

Goalie Matt Jurusik played a big part in keeping Ak Bars at bay during the power play. He pulled off an astonishing series of saves as a flurry of shots rained in on his net. Indeed, Jurusik was part of one of the more intriguing sub-plots of today’s game. Last season he and Alexander Radulov were both part of the Stars organization. Today they were in direct opposition, and Jurusik produced a big save to deny the veteran Ak Bars sniper.

However, Radulov is not the type of player to be easily halted and he responded with another power play goal midway through the third period.

The home team was well in control of the game at the second intermission and, in truth, there was rarely much sign of a fightback in the third period. Ak Bars dictated most of the play and limited the Dragons to just two shots on goal. However, with 19 seconds left, the second of the efforts found the net. Brandon Yip collected his 32nd point of the season with an assist on the play, and that moves him to within four of his best ever tally in a single KHL season. Cliff Pu was the beneficiary, and his backhanded shot looped over Timur Bilyalov’s shoulder to rob the home goalie of a shut-out.

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It was too late to save the game, unfortunately, but it gives the guys a lift as they travel on to Nizhnekamsk for Wednesday’s clash with Neftekhimik. After two wins at home to the Wolves this season, what price a third success, this time on the road?

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