Künast, a more than solid backup for two years and backbone to Germany’s successful run at the World Championships, got the call Wednesday after designated starter Boris Rousson’s surprise departure to Canada.
Although his spectacular saves made him look like Dominic Hasek, Künast was typically modest after his game MVP performance.
“I just did my job, as usual. We played very solid defense today, it was a great team effort,“ Künast stated. "It’s always a joy to come to the Kölnarena, whether you play or not.. It’s such a great atmosphere.”
The Haie got off to a good start. They were seemingly willing to take the offense right from the opening faceoff in front of 18,410 in a packed Kölnarena. However Künast and the Barons defense withstood the early Cologne rush.
“Cologne created a lot of pressure in the beginning,” Barons Head Coach Sean Simpson said. “Luckily we didn’t to fall behind.”
It was the Barons who stunned Cologne with the surprise lead nine minutes into the campaign. Johan Rosén skated around the net and centered the puck to Andrej Strakhov who knocked it past Cologne goalie Chris Rogles right from the doorstep to put Munich ahead 1-0.
A great way for the newly acquired youngster to start off his DEL career.
"It was terrific. I’m so glad I managed to score a goal in my first-ever DEL appearance.”, the 22-year-old Russian remarked afterwards.
The early lead was all the Barons were looking for to establish their usual game plan. Focussing on solid defense, they patiently waited for opportunities to open up against a shocked Haie squad.
05:38 into the second, Munich struck again – this time on the powerplay. Although they couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 advantage, the Barons kept on penetrating and managed to double the lead at 5-on-4. Former Philadelphia Flyer Derek Plante pulled to the net and lost possession in heavy traffic. But the puck bounced right back to the trailing Jason Herter who blasted it past the hapless netminder from 10 feet away.
Down 2-0 midway through the game, Cologne showed poise and was able to regain control. The hosts created several good scoring opportunities but couldn’t really change the momentum.
The Haie got more and more frustrated as they were denied again and again by an excellent Christian Künast in Munich’s net, who seemed to get better and better as time wore on.
Munich looked sharp on special teams while Cologne failed to capitalize on 22 penalty minutes against Barons, including two 5-on-3 advantages.
Barons captain Simon Wheeldon capped the scoring at 3-0 with a weird empty-netter at 59:56. His first attempt was successfully blocked by Haie defender Petri Liimatainen, but Wheeldon hung on and tried to center the puck from behind the net. He couldn’t find a teammate. However Liimatainen proved helpful this time as the puck deflected into the net right off his skate.