Hockey Worlds: Russia defeats Slovakia, enters quarterfinals
Alexander Radulov scored one and added an assist, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves for Russia.
In the second period, Russia’s first power play unit with Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk got the chance they had been waiting for.
Ilya Nikulin’s shot was blocked by the Slovak defence, but Yevgeni Medvedev got to the loose puck first. He passed it two metres to the right to Radulov, whose shot from the face-off dot found its way to the back under Janus’s arm at 5:36, giving Russia the 1-0 lead in the game.
A few shifts later, Radulov had the puck in the Slovak corner. He battled with Slovakia’s Andrej Sekera, who lost his balance a little, and that half a step was all Radulov needed. He drove to the net, trying to slam the puck in, but Janus made a save.
Kovalchuk had anticipated the play, and while Radulov drove the net, he moved the opposite direction – where the rebound landed. Kovalchuk went top-shelf from the top of the crease, and Russia had a two-goal lead at 11:44.
The Russians got another power-play opportunity late in the second period. They moved the puck around the Slovak zone, but when Kovalchuk’s pass to Nikulin came the defenceman’s backhand, Branko Radivojevic could poke it out of the zone. Nikulin stumbled after the puck, but Radivojevic won the race, and then beat Bryzgalov with a quick wrist shot high on the glove side with just 16 seconds remaining in the period.
The goal gave Slovakia new hope, and they came to the third period energized. Five minutes into the period, Denis Denisov let the air out of the Slovak balloon, when his wrister from the right face-off circle went right through Janus, giving Russia a two-goal lead again.It was Kovalchuk’s tournament-leading seventh goal.
Russia hadn’t lost a World Championship game to Slovakia since 2004, and had beat them in three straight tournaments – including last year when the teams played in the final in the same arena. Russia won the game 6-2, and ended their night in a gold medal celebration.
Voice of Russia, IIHF