Today big moment for many Kunlun fans wasn’t part of this game, but came in Yekaterinburg. Avtomobilist’s tying goal against Sibir was enough to guarantee a playoff spot for the Chinese team in its first ever season.
That represents a huge achievement for a team which, 12 months ago, existed purely as an idea under discussion in Beijing and Moscow.
The news may have filtered through to the team during the first intermission of this game. After a nervous first period, with the pressure of being so close seeming to weigh on Kunlun’s shoulders, the middle stanza saw a more relaxed, confident team. Tomi Sallinen put the visitor ahead in the 29th minute and the second goal looked more likely to go to Red Star.
A short-handed goal from Denis Kokarev changed all that, bringing Dynamo level and setting the home team on the way to victory. Martins Karsums got the decider early in the third period, meaning the Blue-and-Whites pipped Lokomotiv to third place and will face Torpedo in what looks like a highly competitive playoff series. For Kunlun, the first ever taste of playoff hockey will bring another big challenge – a match-up against defending champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk.