The Russians recovered two important players as Yegor Chinakhov is back after his injury, while Mikhail Abramov served a one-game suspension after a foul play against Team Sweden. Vladislav Firstov will then sit out for the game, while Maxim Groshev will serve as the thirteenth forward as Chinakhov took his place on the team’s fourth line.
The game started with the Canadians going forward and finding the first goal after less than a minute with a close-range shot by Alex Newhook that was ruled in after the refs reviewed the play. “We didn’t expect for that shot to went in,” the team’s head coach Igor Larionov said after the game. “We were playing in the offensive zone, and then we got it. It was hard for us.” The game was incredibly tense, with not so many shots, and the Russians had a couple of good attempts first with Chistyakov, then with Chinakhov. However, Team Canada slowly gained control of the rink, and they found the 2-0 goal with the first line when Connor McMichael converted a swift pass by Jakob Pelletier.
Things got even harder for the Russians when the team’s captain Vasily Podkolzin was given a double-minor penalty for high sticking. Team Canada couldn’t miss the chance and secured its lead with Cole Perfetti and a solid three-goal lead to the first intermission.
“It was my fault,” Podkolzin said after the game. “I wanted to contest the opposition with my stick, but unfortunately, I hit the opponent quite high. I was unlucky, but it was my fault.”
In the second period, the Russians tried to create something in the O-zone, but they couldn’t get scoring chances around the Canadian crease. After four minutes, Team Canada’s D-man Braden Schneider got full advantage from high traffic in front of the Russian net to make it a 4-0 game. The Russians killed off a penalty around the game’s midway mark, then they had a huge chance to return into game consideration when Mikhail Abramov found the back of the net during a powerplay, but the refs ruled the goal out for offside. “It could have been a huge goal for us,” Larionov said. “I think we could get back in the game, but there’s nothing we can do but respect the refs’ decision, whatever it is.”
The Red Machine had a couple of fine plays, but Yaroslav Askarov was soon busy again as he stopped a penalty shot by Dylan Cozens in the second period’s dying seconds. Larionov praised Askarov’s high-level play throughout the tournament in the post-game press conference.
In the third period, the Canadians kept on controlling the game, while Team Russia went ahead, tried to score at least one goal. However, all their efforts were vain. At the end of the third stanza, Larionov tried pulling Askarov for a sixth skater, but it only led to Team Canada’s fifth goal for a deserved win.
“It’s hard to say what we could do differently,” Podkolzin said after the game. “We should have just played better.”
“This is hockey”, Abramov added. “Mistakes can be made, and anything can happen. We’ll get ready for tomorrow’s game.”
“This loss was tough to swallow,” Podkolzin explained. “However, we need to tune in for tomorrow’s game — it will be the last game at the WJC level for many other guys and me, and we want to finish with a victory.”
Team Russia will return tomorrow for the bronze-medal game against the loser of the other semifinal game between Team USA and Team Finland.
Main photo: Codie McLachlan/Getty Sport/GettyImages.ru