25 October 2023
Kunlun Red Star 3 SKA St. Petersburg 6
Teemu Pulkkinen scored his first goal for Red Star during a thrilling game against SKA – but in the end the visitor’s quality proved too much for the battling Dragons. The Finn struck midway through an impressive first period, putting us in front with his 100th KHL goal. However, a 3-1 lead evaporated in the middle frame and there was no way back in the third.
At times, our first-period hockey reached some of the greatest heights we’ve seen this season. Despite falling behind early on, the Dragons roared back to tie the game barely a minute later. Nolan Moyle refused to give up on the play, hassling and harrying the SKA defense as it tried to clear its lines. That saw a rash attempted pass go straight to Parker Foo, all alone between the hash marks. An emphatic one-timer put the puck beyond Artemy Plashkov to tie the game.
And there was more to come. Red Star’s first power play was going nowhere until a second SKA foul produced a five-on-three advantage. Four seconds later, we were in front. Cliff Pu won the face-off, Ryan Merkley moved the puck along and Teemu Pulkkinen slammed home a one-timer to record his first goal for KRS and his 100th in the KHL.
Best of all, we still had almost all of that second power play to enjoy. And we certainly enjoyed it. Merkley was involved again, moving to a potential shooting position before dishing the puck off for Ryan Sproul to let rip with a shot from almost the same spot as Teemu. That effort whipped past Pleshkov – the end of the goalie’s game – to leave Sproul celebrating in joy and a measure of disbelief at how quickly the pendulum swung in our favor.
Unfortunately, it proved to be too good to last. SKA began the second period at a fast tempo and Vasily Glotov quickly pulled a goal back. Then came penalty trouble, and a couple of power play chances for the visitor. Sergei Tolchinsky and Stepan Starkov did the business, and we found ourselves behind going into the third. Penalties – and especially bad penalties at key times – proved to be the Dragons’ undoing. Regular trips to the box made it impossible to generate much momentum against a strong opponent, and just three shots on incoming goalie Pavel Moisevich meant the 19-year-old enjoyed a relatively relaxed KHL debut.
However, he faced an alarming moment in the third. Turner Ottenbreit got away on the PK and had a huge chance to beat Moisevich and tie the game. However, the opportunity went begging and instead of a tie game the Dragons ultimately fell further behind as penalties continued to bite.
Gritsyuk got his second power play goal of the game before Alexander Nikishin made it 6-3, this time on a five-on-three PP. This time, our bench challenged the play due to possible interference on Jeremy Smith. However, the video review did not go Red Star’s way and the subsequent delay of the game penalty made it back to killing a three-on-five set-up.
In the closing stages, we managed to neutralize the visiting power play, and also gave Matt Jurusik some game time while Smitty got a welcome breather. But the game was long gone, with SKA taking the points for the second time this season.