Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Russia wrapped up its group stage campaign with a big win over Sweden – and completes Group B with a perfect ‘7 from 7’ record. That sets up a quarter-final against the USA in Bratislava on Thursday. The Czechs will face Germany, while Canada won Group A and takes on Switzerland and a Finland vs Sweden clash in Kosice completes the pairings for the last eight.

Russia dominates in second period

Sweden 4 Russia 7 (1-0, 0-6, 3-1)

The game with Sweden was due to be Russia’s toughest test so far. For 20 minutes, it was. Then a five-star show in the second period took the contest away from the Swedes and established Russia as favorite going into the knock-out phase.

Photo: 21.05.19. 2019 IIHF World Championship. Sweden - Russia

Trailing to a Gabriel Landeskog goal at the first intermission, the Red Machine moved up a gear. Artyom Anisimov tied the game early in the second, assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Gusev. Then the floodgates opened. Evgeny Dadonov turned the puck into the net as he fell, Evgeny Malkin set up Alexander Ovechkin for a goal as Russia’s two super stars found a way to work together. Kirill Kaprizov scored his first of the championship before two goals in 30 seconds saw Malkin and Mikhail Grigorenko complete a crushing 20 minutes of Russian play against the defending champion.

The third frame saw Sweden recover some pride as it hauled the score back to 4-7. William Nylander got one of the goals to stay ahead of Kucherov in the scoring race – the Swede has 17 (5+12) points to the Russian’s 15 (6+9). But overall this was an impressive Russian display that sends a warning to the remaining teams in the competition.

CSKA forward Kirill Kaprizov scored his first goal of the championships and said: “Everyone is relieved that we saw so many different players scoring. It feels like I’ve been born again. Thank God it worked out.

“Right now, I can’t say why we started slowly, and we’d like to finish the game more strongly. But it’s nothing to worry about.”

Ovechkin, who got his second goal in Slovakia, was unmoved by the prospect of facing the USA in the quarter-final, rather than Germany, the team expected to arrive in fourth place. “Maybe for you guys it’s better, but for the team it makes no difference,” he said.

Latvia encourages Hartley

Norway 1 Latvia 4 (1-0, 0-1, 0-3)

Latvia won its final game 4-1 against Norway to secure fifth place in Group B. It wasn’t enough to put Bob Hartley’s team into the quarter-finals, but it was good enough to encourage the head coach.

“I felt that we got better and better from game to game,” he said. “We were close to getting wins against the top teams. I know that on paper you can’t compare us with Russia or Sweden, but when we went up against them on the ice I felt that we could make Latvia proud.

“I told my players that I won the Stanley Cup and I won every league where I worked. I have two things left – win the Gagarin Cup and take Latvia to the Olympics. I’m sure I can’t do it on my own, so I got a great group around me.”

In the early game in Bratislava, Nino Niedereitter scored on his first appearance in the championship, but Switzerland still went down 4-5 in a wild game against the Czechs. An empty-net goal from Jan Rutter in the 59th minute gave the Czechs the win; the Swiss pulled goalie Robert Mayer knowing that only a regulation time victory would offer a chance of finishing higher than fourth and getting a potentially easier quarter-final opponent.

Nagy’s big farewell

Slovakia 2 Denmark 1 SO (0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Slovakia’s final game of the tournament also brought down the curtain on the career of Ladislav Nagy. The forward, who turns 40 a week on Saturday, hangs up his skates in the city where he started his career as a kid with HC Kosice back in 1995/6. Since then he helped Slovakia win the World Championship in 2002, played more than 400 games in the NHL and had several years in the KHL with Severstal, Lev Poprad, Dinamo Minsk and Slovan Bratislava. In total he had 123 points in 230 KHL appearances

Slovakia made Nagy captain for his final game and an appreciative home crowd unfurled banners in his honor during Tuesday afternoon’s match-up with Denmark. And he crowned the occasion by delivering the winning penalty shot to snap a 1-1 tie and sign off with a victory.

“Thank you all for a beautiful farewell, an emotional Nagy told local TV reporters after the game. “I think we gave everything in each game of this tournament. All the younger guys who were here worked hard and contributed to the team. Now it's time for them to take it further.

Dynamo Moscow’s Michal Cajkovsky paid tribute to Nagy’s career. “He's had a great career. He's a big guy with a big heart. We all appreciate what he's done for Slovakian hockey. Hopefully he'll take some time off to spend with his family and kids.”

Both Slovakia and Denmark are eliminated from the tournament after the group phase.

The early game in Kosice saw Germany defeat Finland 4-2, denying the Finns top spot in Group A. Finland led twice but Germany recovered to get a win that lifts it to third place, ahead of the USA. In the evening game the Americans lost out to Canada, which tops the group.

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