Salavat Yulaev is becoming Red Star’s favorite opponent. Kunlun got its first point of the season against the Ufa club last month, losing in a shoot-out after a 2-2 tie. Today, the Dragons went one better, claiming a first on-ice victory of the season after a battling performance at Arena Mytishchi.
Home hopes were boosted by the return of three players from illness. Danny Kristo, Trevor Murphy and Jake Chelios went straight back into Alexei Kovalev’s team here, while Alexei Toropchenko completed a three-game ban and slotted into the third line. And, in the end, the returning players would make a decisive impact.
However, the new faces could not Salavat from taking a firm grip on the game in the first period. The visitor scored twice on successive shifts midway through the opening stanza. Free-scoring Dmitry Kugryshev engineered an odd man rush with Mikhail Vorobyov to open the scoring. That was his 16th point of the season, extending his productive streak to four games, a run match by his helper Vorobyov. Next came a first KHL goal for 19-year-old Danil Bashkirov. Salavat’s youngsters have generated plenty of hype this season and the aptly-named teenager could be the latest big prospect to emerge from Bashkortostan.
Red Star hit back early in the first when Hunter Shinkaruk deflected a Sam Lofquist slap shot into Metsola’s net. That was Shinkaruk’s first goal of the season and it was followed by a major penalty on Kugryshev; the opening goalscorer would play no further part in the game, but the Dragons could not take advantage of the power play and tie the scores. The 2-2 goal came late in the frame when Chelios fired home from the blue line.
Ufa went back in front seconds into the final frame when Philip Larsen’s latest rush saw him drop a pass for Teemu Hartikainen. The Finn made no mistake with his finish, but there were plenty of errors to be seen among the visiting defense when a crowd of Ufa players allowed Kristo to tie the game immediately.
And the struggling Chinese team had a moment to cherish at last in the 52nd minute when captain Luke Lockhart put the Dragons ahead for the first time in the game. He angled his shot into Metsola’s weak spot as Andrei Bakanov screened the visiting goalie. Late in the game, Cory Kane sealed the win with an empty net goal.
Traktor lost by a solitary goal when these teams met on Chelyabinsk earlier in the season. Anvar Gatiyatullin’s men learned their lesson and unlocked their scoring power in the return encounter in Cherepovets. Two players got their first career KHL goals as Traktor consolidated in sixth place in the East.
The first period was goalless but early in the second a power play goal gave Traktor the lead. Tomas Hyka was the scorer, collecting his third of the season. The midway through the frame, Jacob Berglund got his first goal of a frustrating season. The Swedish forward has endured a stop-start beginning to life in Chelyabinsk, making just four appearances this season due to injury and illness.
Fitness worries have been a theme of this season, and so has the emergence of young players. Sergei Telegin, a 20-year-old assigned to Traktor’s farm club at Chelmet, is the latest to make an impact, claiming his first KHL goal to make it 3-0. And it wasn’t long before we had another moment to be immortalized in the family album when 19-year-old Artyom Shvaryov marked his KHL debut with Traktor’s fourth goal. Roman Will made 26 saves for his second shut-out since moving to Chelyabinsk.