January 22, 2018 was the last game that Ilya Samsonov and Metallurg Magnitogorsk would play before breaking for the Olympics. Magnitka appears to have a longer Olympic break than many of the other KHL teams. Most of them play their last game on January 23 but others play their last pre-Olympic game as late as January 28. The KHL does not resume play until February 26 while the next game for Metallurg Magnitogorsk will take place on February 27.
In this “last game before the break”, Magnitka hosted the Kunlun Red Star, who are based in Beijing, China. Ilya Samsonov was in goal for Metallurg, four days after shutting out Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk. The goalie for Kunlun Red Star was Magnus Hellberg.
The first period was scoreless, but featured scoring chances for both teams. At least one of Kunlun Red Star’s shots hit the post. With just 17 seconds left in the first period, Cory Kane of the Red Star took a penalty which spilled over into the next period.
Just 35 seconds into the second period, with Metallurg Magnitogorsk on their spill-over power play, Matt Ellison scored, getting assists from former Capital and soon to be Canadian Olympian, Wojtek Wolski, and Jan Kovar. Magnitka now led 1-0. Seven minutes later, Kunlun tied up the score at 1-1 when former NHL’er, Gilbert Brule scored a break-away goal. The score remained at 1-1 when the second period ended.
At 6:51 into the third period, Wolski found a break in the Red Star defense, shot the puck, which went to an opposing player who then tried to pass it and it went back to Wolski who then shot it towards the net and scored the go-ahead goal. Magnitka now lead 2-1. At 11:48 in the period, one of the Red Star player took a penalty which gave Magnitka a power play. Sergei Mozyakin, the superstar of Metallurg Magnitka, scored more than a minute into the ensuing power play, giving Magnitka an insurance goal. He got assists from Chris Lee and Wolski. About 30 seconds after Mozyakin scored, Evgeny Timkin added another goal for Magnitka to make the score 4-1 which was the final score.
For the game, Samsonov made 30 saves out of 31 shots on goal. His save percentage for the season has now improved to .922.
Wolski ended up being named “Player of the Game” for his performance in his last game before representing Canada in the Olympics. This was the first time he had faced the Kunlun Red Star since being traded back to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, with whom he had played the previous two seasons.
This game involved a coaching matchup between two former Capitals players, who both began the season as assistant coaches and were appointed Head Coach of their respective teams. Viktor Kozlov, who had played with the Caps for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, is currently the Head Coach of Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Bobby Carpenter, who played with the team from 1981-1987 and again for the 1991-1992 season, is currently Head Coach of Kunlun Red Star.
Game Recap from Metallurg Magnitogorsk Web Site
Game Recap from Kunlun Red Star Site
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