31 January 2024
Kunlun Red Star 2 Vityaz Moscow Region 0
Hockey is a team game. But there’s no doubt that one man won this battle almost single-handed. Matt Jurusik secured our first shut-out since Nov. 23, making 36 saves to deny Vityaz. More than that, his spectacular stop late in the third period also triggered the attack that brought the Dragons a vital second goal and put the game out of reach of an energetic but wasteful visitor.
Before this game, we’d noted that Vityaz has the least productive offense in this year’s KHL. In the first period, we saw something of why that might be. Our guys had almost twice the attacking possession, with Vityaz adopting a shoot-on-sight policy that proved not to be a pathway to moments of drama for Jurusik. At the other end, Red Star had a couple of power plays but found it hard to get its own attacking game in motion in a goalless opening frame.
After the intermission, we had a spell of five-on-three play and managed to put some real pressure on Maxim Dorozhko in the visitor’s net. He coped well with the workload but Colin Campbell was beginning to have a real influence. Soupy missed out on a chance created by Ryan Merkley, but made up for that with the opening goal midway through the game. He reacted well after a Brandon McMillan feed was deflected away from him, reaching behind to get the puck under control and then launching it past the goalie from the left-hand circle. Moments later, we were close to a second as Luke Lockhart and Tyler Wong got an odd-man rush. Lockhart, who has four goals in his last two games, took the shot but missed the open side of the net.
Then the pattern of play changed. Vityaz found an extra attacking gear and began to pose some big questions to Jurusik. Jeremy Roy and Derek Barach failed with big opportunities to tie it up before the intermission, and our goalie pulled off a spectacular glove save early in the third. Then came a good penalty kill as Vityaz saw its first power play of the game midway through the third.
But the decisive moment came in the 56th minute. It sounds simple enough: Jurusik with the save, Turner Ottenbreit cleared the puck and Spencer Foo raced away to score the second. But that understates the spectacular stop we saw from our goalie. First, he beat away a fierce point shot from Roy, then showed stunning reactions to deny Ivan Savchik’s looping effort. At the other end, Spencer’s devastating one-timer was none too shabby either, a great way to bring up his 10th goal of the season and put this game beyond reach.
That’s the third win in a row. Admiral comes to Mytishchi next and we could post four straight victories for the first time this season.