Dragons make history in Moscow

8 November 2023

Dynamo Moscow 2 Kunlun Red Star 3

It finally happened. For the first time since joining the KHL in 2016, Kunlun managed to beat Dynamo Moscow. The Blue-and-Whites, one of the most famous names in European hockey history, remained the last team to enjoy an undefeated record against our guys. Today, that sequence is over, thanks to an OT winner from Brandon McMillan.

There could hardly have been a greater disparity in pre-game form. Dynamo was on a nine-game winning streak that put clear at the top of the KHL’s overall standings. Red Star, meanwhile, suffered five successive losses, albeit with several performances in there deserving better than the narrow verdicts that went against us.

A gutsy first period kept our guys in the game. To nobody’s surprise, the league leader dominated the play: 16-8 for shots on goal, 7:11 against 2:23 for attacking possession, 10-2 on the draw. But there was no scoring until Dynamo’s prolific power play got a chance in the 18th minute and Cedric Paquette took advantage. That PP, by the way, runs at 32%.

Almost immediately, the Dragons replied. Our D forced a turnover as Dynamo tried to enter the zone in search of a second goal. Tyler Wong brought play down the left-hand channel, but was forced into the corner. From there, his pass picked out Devin Brosseau and a lazer-like shot flashed inside the post to tie the game.

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That established a pattern that would recur in the second period. Another penalty, this time for Nikita Parfenyuk, saw Dynamo’s Vladislav Mikhailov send his team to 2-from-2 with a man advantage. Yet, exactly one minute later, the game was tied at 2-2. Teemu Pulkkinen chased down a lost cause behind the home net, taking the puck from Andrei Prybylsky and sending it back to Ryan Merkley at the point. His shot was deflected across the face of the net and Luke Lockhart arrived at the back door to rifle home from a tight angle just before the game reached its midway point.

It’s worth noting that the start of the second period was much more evenly matched. The teams had an even split of 18 shots on target, and Dynamo’s territorial and face-off advantages were in decline. Red Star even got its first power play chance of the night shortly after Luke’s goal, but could not capitalize on Artyom Ilyenko’s infringement.

The game remained tied going into the third period. Now Dynamo resumed its first-period dominance, but could not find a way past Matt Jurusik in our net. The KRS penalty kill also got back to its best, twice denying the Blue-and-Whites after fouls from Pulkkinen and Jurusik.

It all added up to overtime, and another valuable point for our guys was in the bag. But there was more to come. Dynamo’s frustration at failing to finish the job in regulation played into our hands. Nikita Gusev took a penalty, and the power play brought the winning goal. Pulkkinen sent the puck down the boards to Wong and as he lined up his pass, McMillan was on the move. Brandon took advantage of the extra space around Maxim Motorygin’s net and peeled away from the slot to receive the puck at the back door. Motorygin was committed to his near post, and there was a huge target for McMillan to fire home a one-timer and claim a famous victory.

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