Metallurg shrugged off a sluggish first period to rack up a big victory at Kunlun Red Star. The home team chose this game to highlight its ‘Dragon Fight Cancer’ campaign. That meant a start for goaltender Alexei Murygin, who overcame a cancer diagnosis in 2019 and returned to play top-level hockey. Today he was up against one of his former clubs.
In the first period, Murygin had little to do. Kunlun led the shot count 17-8 and took a deserved lead into the intermission thanks to a neat piece of skill from Tyler Wong in the seventh minute. If anything, the Dragons should have scored more, but Vasily Koshechkin stopped good chances for Alexander Perevalov and Alex Riche.
A penalty on Riche late in the first, probably couple with some strong words in the Metallurg locker room, saw the visitor take control of the game in the second. Red Star killed that penalty but Yegor Korobkin soon tied the game. Then, late in the stanza, Josh Currie made it 2-1 on a delayed penalty. A defensive error presented Danila Yurov with Metallurg’s third goal before Nikita Korostelyov opened a three-goal lead during a 5-on-3 power play.
The game was all but decided by the second intermission and when Alexei Maklyukov added a fifth in the third period, both teams decided to change their goalies. The last few minutes gave a useful taste of KHL action to Chinese-born Sun Zehao and Metallurg’sIlya Nabokov. The 19-year-old Nabokov made his first appearance in the KHL and stopped the only shot he faced in four minutes on the ice. Zehao was less fortunate, beaten by Vladislav Yeryomenko in the closing moments as Metallurg wrapped up a big win.
SKA got the expected result in this top vs bottom battle. However, the league leader needed to quell a spirited Sochi fightback in the third period before skating off with the points.
The first period went exactly according to the pre-game script. SKA got on top from the start, and dominated the play. Marat Khusnutdinov and Dmitrij Jaskin each got a goal and an assist as the home team opened a solid advantage. It wasn’t just the scoreline that pointed to home team domination. Roman Rotenberg’s players outshot the Leopards 20-5 and spent far longer in Sochi territory.
At the start of the second, Sochi had a promising spell. The visitor even got the puck in the net on the power play, but a long video review whistled that play off for a hand pass. After that, SKA regained its earlier control and extended its lead thanks to Alexander Nikishin’s precise finish.
Game over? Not quite. Sochi rallied bravely and two goals at the start of the third period threatened an unlikely fightback. Nikita Zorkin pulled one back, then Timur Khafizov made it a one-goal game with a power play effort. Khafizov’s tally defied the stats: Sochi has the weakest power play in the game, while SKA enjoys the most effective penalty kill.
SKA, however, was not going to be rattled by Sochi’s sudden surge. Khusnutdinov got his second of the night, then Nikita Gusev continued his productive streak with the fifth and final goal.