Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Russia suffered its first defeat in this season’s Euro Hockey Tour, producing a stuttering performance on defense in a disappointing loss against Finland. Goals from Dinamo Riga-bound Jere Karjalainen and Jokerit newbie Teemu Turunen led the way, while Metallurg’s Juho Olkinuora backstopped the Leijonat to victory.

Russia 1 Finland 4 (0-1, 0-0, 1-3)

Head coach Valery Bragin handed Dynamo Moscow goalie Ivan Bocharov the starting place ahead of Alexander Samonov, who played in yesterday’s 6-4 win over Sweden. He was beaten early in the game when Axel Rindell potted his second goal of the tournament to give the Finns a fifth-minute lead. That came on the game’s first power play and was the only difference between the teams in an even first period.

Photo: 13.05.21. Eurohockey tour 2020-2021. Czech Hockey Games. Russia - Finland

Russia had its chances, most notably in the 35th minute when Evgeny Timkin hit the post, but there was no further scoring in the middle frame. Early in the third, though, Maxim Shalunov scored on the counter-attack, racing away from two opponents to tie the game.

At that point, Russia seemed poised to extend its winning streak to 11 games. But defensive jitters put paid to that. Jere Karjalainen restored Finland’s lead midway through the session, and 32 seconds later Teemu Turunen doubled the advantage. The Finns, like Sweden 24 hours earlier, exposed weaknesses in Russia’s defense and grabbed quick goals in the final frame. This time, the Red Machine was unable to get back into gear. Karjalainen potted his second of the game into an empty net to wrap up the victory for the Finns.

Valery Bragin, head coach, Russia

We weren’t ourselves in the first period but the second was much better. We had the advantage, we had good chances, but we couldn’t score. In the third we tied the game but silly goals cost us the game. We tried to save the game playing six-on-five but it didn’t work out. We’ll take a good look at everything, and after the game against the Czechs — which is likely to decide who wins this tournament — we’ll pick our players for the World Championship.

It’s hard to say [why we gave up quick goals in the third again]. We need to look at everything, analyse everything. It’s hard to give a precise answer immediately after the game.

We’re planning for Ivan Fedotov to play the next game. After that, we’ll see which goalie will start at the Worlds. Mikhail Grigorenko joined the team in good shape. He’ll train tomorrow and we’ll see. We’re expecting him to play against the Czechs. Sergei Tolchinsky is ill, he has a bad cold.

Grigory Dronov, defenseman, Russia

The third period wasn’t due to a problem with our systems, we just lost concentration. Sometimes you get a series of awkward coincidences like that.

On the arrival of several NHL defensemen

It makes it more competitive. Everyone is fighting for his place.

Yegor Yakovlev, captain, Russia

It was hard work [in that third period], we’re not quite used to playing back-to-back games. Plus it was really hot in the arena and the ice wasn’t too good. But it was same for both teams.

We allowed some needless goals, even though we got back into the game. Four goals in a game is a lot, but we have time to work on it and iron out the wrinkles. We need to play a simpler game, like in practice.

Czech Republic 3 Sweden 2 OT (0-0, 0-1, 2-1, 1-0)

Two goals from Filip Zadina saved the host nation from defeat against Sweden in regulation time. The Detroit winger scored twice in the third period to force a 2-2 tie, before Matej Stransky potted the overtime winner.

It all added up to another victory for Czech goalie Simon Hrubec over his Swedish counterpart Adam Reideborn. The two last met in the Eastern Conference final, when Hrubec’s Avangard eliminated Reideborn’s Ak Bars on the way to the Gagarin Cup.

Sweden was poised to bounce back from Wednesday’s 4-6 loss against Russia, leading twice in regulation on goals from Max Friberg and Par Lindholm. But Zadina scored a tying goal on the power play in the 57th minute to keep the Czechs on track for top spot in their home tournament.

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