Kazakhstan fell to a third successive loss at the 2022 World Championship, dropping a 2-3 verdict against unbeaten Switzerland to remain stuck at the foot of the Group A standings.

There were some encouraging signs for Yury Mikhailis and his team in Helsinki. The first period saw a far more competitive Kazakh performance, restricting a dangerous Swiss offense to just eight shots at Andrei Shutov’s net. However, the flip side of that effort was a limited Kazakh attacking performance that yielded just three shots on goal at the other end.

And in the second period, the Swiss found another gear and took control of the game. Denis Malgin, now Zurich-based after three years in the NHL, opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Malgin, whose father Albert played in the Soviet league in Yekaterinburg, was assisted by another Swiss-Russian, Philipp Kurashev.

In the 35th minute, Switzerland extended its lead through Dario Simion and, given the problems on the Kazakh penalty kill, it was tempting to assume the game was gone when Yegor Shalapov was called for tripping early in the third. However, this time Kazakhstan not only killed the penalty but also added a short-handed tally from Jesse Blacker to get back into the game.

When Fabrice Herzog made it 3-2 on 55:49 it looked like Kazakhstan was done, but there was almost a sting in the tail. Valery Orekhov’s second goal of the tournament made it 2-3 with two full minutes to play. However, the Swiss defended strongly, forechecking hard to keep possession away from the Kazakhs. Goalie Shutov could not leave the game until 59:11, and the clock ran down before the extra man could make an impact.

Austria produces a shock

Austria pulled off the first shock result of the 2022 World Championships, defeating the Czech Republic in a shoot-out. That’s the first time Austria has ever defeated the Czechs, or Czechoslovakia, in 17 World Championship meetings and a further five Olympic encounters. The teams’ last encounter was in Bratislava in 2019 and finished 8-0 in the Czechs’ favor.

Today, though, Austria produced a determined performance on defense to frustrate a Czech team awaiting NHL reinforcements in the form of David Pastrnak (Boston) and David Kampf (Toronto). Limited to just 25 shots through 65 minutes, the Czechs could not build on Roman Cervenka’s opening goal late in the first period.

With just one goal in it, Austria always believed it had a chance. And with 38 seconds left on the clock, the tying goal arrived. It wasn’t the prettiest, a point shot bouncing back onto the crease for Brian Lebler to stuff it home with a combination of skate and stick, but it was enough to force overtime.

With no further scoring, it went to the shoot-out and Austrian goalie Bernhard Starkbaum won every duel with the Czech forwards. At the other end, Peter Schneider potted the only successful attempt. Austria moves to three points, clear of the relegation dogfight. The Czechs are on four and could yet be drawn into a battle to get to the last eight.

Swedes so strong

There were no surprises for Sweden, though. The Tre Kronor powered to an emphatic victory over Great Britain. It took just 13 second for Rasmus Asplund to open the scoring and he finished with two goals in a 6-0 win. Rasmus Dahlin, a #1 NHL draft pick in his year, scored his first World Championship goal and Anton Bengtsson also potted two.

The Swedes improve to 3-and-0, level with Finland ahead of tomorrow’s grand Nordic rivalry game.

In Group A’s early game, Denmark claimed a 2-1 verdict over Italy. Nikolaj Ehlers opened the scoring but despite outshooting the Italians 45-14, the Danes were never comfortable in the game. Italy hit back in the middle frame before Mathias Bau got the winner at the start of the third.

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