Russia’s best were made to fight every inch of the way for this win over the Danes, and may have to play the rest of the tournament without goaltender Evgeny Nabokov, who was substituted through injury. Sergei Zinovyev, with three goals, was Russia’s hero in this difficult game.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Sergei played his best game,” head coach Vyacheslav Bykov said after the game, “he’s played even better in the past, but his finishing was a delight. Then again, he could have scored another goal.”
Zinovyev’s treble strike dashed Danish hopes of creating a second successive sensation. For a ten-minute spell they were even ahead, and played over two minutes of the closing stages with six skaters, but here they came up against the second hero of the night.
Konstantin Barulin had come on in place of Evgeny Nabokov, who was injured trying to stop the third Danish goal. Evgeny was reluctant to leave the ice, struggling on for two more minutes before finally asking to be replaced. “He stayed on for a reason,” Barulin paid tribute to his comrade, “he gave me some time to limber up, so I wouldn’t be going out there completely cold.”
It was the second time in this tournament that Barulin has come on as a substitute and kept his goal intact, although this time his goal was not threatened as often as against Slovakia. There was one occasion, however, when Konstantin was indeed Russia’s savior. “I remember, there were three Danes against just two defenders,” recalled the goalie, “but I got my skate to the puck. To be honest, it’s really hard coming on as a substitute. But I hope Nabokov will be fine. Then it’s all up to the coach.”
Russia captain Alexei Morozov gave his take on the game: “Some people expected a higher score, a better game, but our opponents made it far from easy. We won, and that’s good. We knew the game would be a tricky one, and we prepared for that.”
“The first period went against Russia.”
“Yes, we made some mistakes, wasted some chances in power play, and that’s why we lost the period.”
“What did you say to each other in the changing rooms before the second period?”
“That we needed to do our job, and show the kind of hockey we’re capable of playing.”
“Slovenia, Denmark… Why are games against teams rated as outsiders turning out to be so tough?”
“Now they can all play hockey. See, even Norway achieved successive wins…”
“How will you prepare for the upcoming matches against the Czech Republic and Finland?”
“We have a two-day pause. The coaching staff will suggest a plan for preparation, we’ll have get-togethers and watch videos. Right now we need to rest, take a break, and gather our emotions.”
“What was the trickiest part of the game? When Nabokov was injured or when the Danes were in front?”
“Both were difficult. The Danes taking the lead, plus it’s a shame for Nabokov, and we don’t know what will happen with him. It’s good that we won. Towards the end we were tight in defense and didn’t let our opponents score. Well done to the guys.”
“What about the team’s morale if Nabokov won’t be able to play anymore?
“We’ll survive, we’ll see. It’s still too early to guess; we’ll know tomorrow.”
After the game Vyacheslav Bykov was cautious about commenting on the injury to Russia’s number one: “He has damage to his lower torso, but I can’t tell you the diagnosis. We’re considering what we should do. If we need to, we can call up Vasily Koshechkin. We won’t be inviting any other goalies.”
The coach was more specific when faced with questions about additions to the roster: “We’re waiting for Alexander Ovechkin and we’re keeping a place for Pavel Datsyuk. We’re not calling up anyone else. We won’t be calling Alexander Semin. He had a poor finish to the season, but it happens. It’s just that for this tournament he doesn’t feature in our plans.”
Bykov then corrected himself, admitting that nothing has been decided regarding Ovechkin. No ticket has been bought, and he can tell us nothing concrete as yet.
The coach was still happy with the result, although he conceded that there are still serious problems in defense. And the defeat of Denmark still does not guarantee a place in the play-offs. For that, Russia must continue amassing points while also hoping that the Slovaks do not win all their remaining games.
Nikita Berezhkov and Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru