Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
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In a game that was a sort of revenge match for the 2018 Olympic Games finals, the Germans had an admirable effort, but it wasn’t enough as Russia defeated them for the eighth straight time in the WJC history to qualify for the semifinals after a 2-1 win.

The Russians had to renounce to Yegor Chinakhov, who suffered from an injury in the game against Team Austria, and Mikhail Abramov, who is serving a one-game penalty following an on-ice incident in the round-robin game against Team Sweden. Danil Bashkirov was promoted to the second line, and he rewarded Igor Larionov tallying the game-winning goal in the second period. After the game, Larionov said that Chinakhov should be back for the semifinals.

After a bit more than three minutes and a half, Maxim Groshev presented himself in front of the German crease, but Lucas Flade slashed him for the game’s first powerplay. The Russians didn’t find space, and with the teams back on even strength, the German first line had a fine shift and hit the post with their captain Tim Stutzle. After nine minutes, Team Germany had its first man advantage with Daniil Chaika going to the sin-bin, but Russia found a well-timed shorthanded goal when Semyon Chistyakov found Vasily Ponomaryov in the O-zone with a sensational long-range pass. Ponomaryov, who potted a double in the tournament’s opener against Team USA, beat Florian Bugl after a nice deke for his third goal in this year’s WJC.

“I have to thank my partners,” Ponomaryov said about his goal. “Zakhar Bardakov was excellent as he kept retention of the puck, and Semyon Chistyakov gave me such a fantastic pass.”

The rest of the first period didn’t see much action as the Russians controlled the ice without giving Germany a chance to create dangers.

However, the second period started with Team Germany on the attack and a powerplay after less than two minutes due to a foul play by Kirill Kirsanov. No dangers appeared around Askarov’s crease, and with the teams back on even strength, the Russian first line had a couple of chances created by Podkolzin, without managing to beat Bugl. Shortly after, the Germans were on a powerplay again due to a high-sticking play by Chistyakov. Once again, the Russians controlled the situation, and once Chistyakov was back on the ice, the Red Machine forced the Germans into their own zone. After a couple of long stretches by the first line, Bashkirov found the back of the net for his first of the tournament after a great pass by Yegor Afanasyev close to the midway mark. With six minutes and a half to go in the middle stanza, the Germans had yet another powerplay chance with Team Russia having a mistake in the line change and icing six skaters. However, Yaroslav Askarov was called to a couple of big saves when the Russian penalty expired.

“We tried to play actively,” Daniil Chaika said in the second intermission. “We need to keep on play our best hockey. We also need to have more discipline and have fewer penalties.”

Once again, the Russians had many penalties in the second period, but Larionov isn’t worried about it. “We need a bit more discipline, but I think that we’ll try to win games using our approach and playing our game.”

In the third period, the Germans managed to cut the lead short when the Russian defense failed to clear the puck in the D-zone, and Florian Elias beat Askarov with an excellent shot to the Russian goalie’s right. A couple of minutes later, after a powerful attempt by Shakir Mukhamadullin, Team Germany was close to tying things up with a fast break by John Peterka stopped by Askarov.

“I think that Germany played a bit like the Czech Republic in the round-robin,” Larionov said after the game. “They played tight defense and tried to be dangerous by counterattacks. Also because of the early time, it has been a tough quarterfinal game for us, and now we need to rest, work on ourself and get ready for the semifinals.”

After the Russians enjoyed a certain advantage in the O-zone, the teams exchanged penalties late in the third period. Team Germany had another huge chance to tie the game, but a monumental save by Askarov denied Elias his second of the night. In the last minute of the third period, Team Germany pulled its goalie, but it wasn’t enough, and the Russians could celebrate another qualification to the semis.

“The important thing is that we won today,” Ponomaryov said after the game. “We’ll try to find solutions for tomorrow’s game.”

Team Russia will play its semifinal game on Sunday, Jan. 3. The opponent is TBD.

Main photo: Codie McLachlan/Getty Sport/GettyImages.ru

Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru
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