Sweden 4 Russia 6 (1-1, 1-3, 2-2)
Team Russia remains undefeated in this season’s Euro Hockey Tour after kicking off the final stage in Prague with victory over Sweden. That makes it 10 wins from 10 games in the competition so far. SKA forwards Anton Burdasov and Vladislav Kamenev led the scoring with two goals apiece as Valery Bragin’s team enjoyed an encouraging win barely a week before the start of the 2021 World Championship in Riga.
However, the Red Machine did not have everything its own way. Sweden took the lead in the ninth minute thanks to Oscar Lindberg. The Dynamo Moscow forward got the finishing touch on a Viktor Loov point shot and redirected the puck past Alexander Samonov. Russia tied it up after 14 minutes when a Petersburg combination unlocked the Swedish defense. Kamenev won the face-off, Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi drove the puck to the net and defenseman Igor Ozhiganov beat his man and scored on Adam Reideborn with a low backhander that would not have disgraced a far more prolific goalscorer.
At the start of the second period, Russia seized control of the game. First, Burdasov stole the puck on his own blue line and skated away from the Swedish D to put his team ahead. A minute later, the same player set up a power play goal for Emil Galimov with a pass from behind the net. Sweden pulled one back at the midway stage through Jesper Froden, with Loov again getting an assist, but a second Russian PP brought a second Burdasov goal to restore the two-goal lead going into the intermission.
When Kamenev scored a terrific individual goal in the 47th minute, it looked like Russia would coast to a comfortable victory. Sweden, though, had other ideas and hit back with two quickfire goals through Filip Hallander and former Jokerit D-man Jonathan Pudas. Suddenly, a tense finish was in prospect, but Kamenev sealed the deal for Russia with an empty-net goal.
Valery Bragin, head coach, Russia
It was a different tempo, a different kind of hockey. For the first six or seven minutes we were adapting, then we started playing well. We played two periods with good concentration, created lots of chances and scored twice on the power play. But at 5-2 we lost focus. When we got that back, we saw out the win.
Samonov won’t play the next game, we’ll use a different goalie. Even though this is the Euro Tour, we want to decide on our #1 for the World Championship. Right now we’re looking at everything, analysing. On offense we played well, our forwards and defensemen should play together in their zone.
Igor Ozhiganov, defenseman, Russia
About his goal
Shvets-Rogovoi did well to set me up and then you never know what you can do if you try. Right now, I feel like I’m encouraged to join the offense, I’m trusted on the power play. They’re giving me a chance to play to my strengths.
On the arrival of NHL defensemen before the start of the Worlds
I don’t want to spend a month on the team and then at the last moment not go to the World Championship. When players arrive from the NHL, that’s extra motivation.
Finland 1 Czech Republic 2 (1-0, 0-1, 0-1)
The Czech Republic made a winning start to its home leg of the Eurotour, with two former Severstal players on the scoresheet in a comeback win over Finland.
Finland’s rookie D-man Axel Rindell opened the scoring in the first period, assisted by Jokerit’s Teemu Turunen. In the second, former Severstal defenseman Libor Sulak tied it up for the Czechs.
Another former Severstal player, Matej Stransky, put the Czechs ahead midway through the third period and that proved enough to give the tournament host the verdict.