Russia began the final stage of this season’s Eurotour with a shoot-out loss in Finland as Ilya Vorobyov again ran the rule over prospective World Championship players.
The teams tied 2-2 in Helsinki before former Vityaz goalie Harri Sateri had the better of Russia in the shoot-out and Finland took the verdict thanks to a goal from Veli-Matti Savinainen, who spent last season with Ugra.
Two newly-crowned Gagarin Cup winners, Vladimir Tkachyov and Stanislav Galiyev, were on the ice for Russia’s opening goal. Pavel Buchnevich, the third man on their line, got the assist as Galiyev opened the scoring in the eighth minute, surprising Sateri with a shot from a tight angle.
Finland recovered in the second period after Russian ran into penalty trouble. Three minors early in the frame kept the pressure on Vasily Koshechkin in the Russian net and eventually Juuso Puustinen took advantage to make it 1-1. Toni Rajala then put the Finns in front early in the third period, before Russia grabbed the equalizer in the 56th minute. It was the fourth line that combined to get the goal. Maxim Mamin and Ilya Kablukov battled in the slot after Alexei Bereglazov’s shot tested the goalie; Alexander Barabanov forced home the puck. Koshechkin remained alert in the final minute as more shots rained in, and the game went into five minutes of scoreless overtime before Finland won it in the shoot-out.
Head coach Ilya Vorobyov picked out that late equalizer as Russia’s key positive, and talked about the players he hopes to see on the national team in the next few days.
“On a positive note, we tied the game in the third period and that showed some character,” he said. “But at this level, we have to convert our chances. We’ll keep working.
“We need Artyom [Anisimov]. As you can see, our roster isn’t in the best shape and we have a lot of injuries. Right now, all help is welcome.”
Anisimov last played in a World Championship in Moscow in 2016. The Yaroslavl native is expected to join the Russian camp soon. Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, available following Toronto’s playoff exit, is also likely to join the team, although Vorobyov admitted that he can’t say exactly when.
Vladimir Tkachyov, who only joined the team in the week after helping Ak Bars win the Gagarin Cup last Sunday, explained that he was ready for action.
“We had a bit of time to rest and then we followed the same preparation as everyone else for this game,” he said. “We tried to play, we had chances and we just need to take them.
“Playing with Buchnevich is fun. He’s a smart player, gets into the game well. We weren’t just playing like three individuals out there, we worked together and formed a decent line. We’ll keep working on that chemistry.”
Sweden, which comes into this competition with several NHLers already in place, began its home tournament with a 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic. Goals from Jacob Nilsson, Mika Zibanejad and Oliver Ekman-Larsson secured a routine win.