Alexander Ovechkin scored his first goal of the Championship as Russia crushed Italy 10-0 to power to the top of the Group B table in Bratislava. The team has won all four of its games and has shut-outs in the last three. Switzerland is level on points with Russia after a 4-1 win over Norway.

Russia 10 Italy 0 (4-0, 4-0, 2-0)

A 10-0 victory for Russia against Italy established a new post-Soviet record. Previously, the Russian national team had mustered two nine-goal margins (two years ago in Cologne, also against Italy, and back in 1994 when GB was beaten 12-3 in Italy).

Photo: 15.05.19. 2019 IIHF World Championship. Russia - Italy

The game was also significant for Alexander Ovechkin, who got his first goal of this year’s World Championship. Ovechkin scored Russia’s fourth of the night and said he was already looking for more in the tougher tests awaiting Ilya Vorobyov’s team.

“I’ve ticked that box and now it’s time to move on,” he said of his 17th-minute one-timer. “Of course, a win like this gives everyone confidence but, to be honest, I felt a bit sorry for the Italians. They tried hard, they’re good guys but the gap in class was immediately apparent.”

Evgeny Kuznetsov had an impressive game with two goals and two assists, while the Gusev-Kucherov combination sparked once again. The two Nikitas shared six assists on goals for Nikita Zaitsev, Dinar Khafizullin and Evgeny Dadonov before Kucherov scored his third goal and 10th point of the tournament. He tops the scoring charts while Dadonov scored twice in the game to move to six goals and lead the goalscoring race. Ilya Kovalchuk and Mikhail Grigorenko also found the net in Russia’s romp.

Head coach Ilya Vorobyov was keen to pay tribute to Italy. “We won, and sometimes games end up like that,” he said. “Italy treated us with great respect, let’s be respectful towards them. There were many positives from the game for us. We got to look at some new combinations and we set up some different power play teams.”

More late heartache for Slovakia

Slovakia 2 Italy 3

Host nation Slovakia now faces an uphill struggle to reach the quarter-final after a 2-3 loss to Germany. For the second game running, it all went wrong for Craig Ramsay’s team at the end of the game.

The Slovaks led 2-1 with two minutes to play thanks to second-period goals from Andrej Sekera and Libor Hudacek. But Germany tied it up through Marcus Eisenschmid on 58:08 and won it with a late goal from Leon Draisaitl. Slovakia’s previous game ended in a last-minute 5-6 loss to Canada.

Slovan’s Matus Sukel said after the game: “It’s a huge disappointment. We didn’t fight so hard for 50 minutes just so we could screw it up at the end. We should have scored more but the Germans also had chances and Marek Ciliak kept us in front. It hurts, but that’s hockey.”

David Buc added: “Bad luck has been on our heels for the last three games. I can’t believe we’ve been the better team three games and lost all of them. I have to believe we can move on from this.”

The afternoon games saw Switzerland ease to a 4-1 victory over Norway. The Swiss are level with Russia in Group B after both nations won their first four games. Norway is still seeking its first victory and former Jokerit forward Mathis Olimb admitted the Scandinavians will have to work hard in their remaining games to secure their place in the Elite Pool.

In Group A, the USA defeated Great Britain 6-3. The Brits were much improved after yesterday’s humiliation against Denmark, sharing the spoils in an evenly-matched first period, but goals from Clayton Keller and Chris Kryder either side of the midway mark put the Americans 3-1 up. Patrick Kane potted a goal and two assists, Britain’s scorers were Mike Hammond, Brett Perlini and Ben Davies.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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