With help from forward Artemy Panarin, the Russians took down Slovakia 3-2 in a speedy overtime game on Sunday afternoon. It was a battle of offensive firepower between two teams who tend to put defensive play as a distant second to goalscoring.
Tomas Kopecky put the Slovaks on the board with lucky goal early in the first period. A surprising shot along the ice from the boards evaded goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s attention, tipping off his stick and into the back of the net. It wasn’t the start the Russians wanted, as a win in this game would launch them into the 2nd place spot of Group B.
More than an entire period later, Sergei Mozyakin tied up the game, putting Russia on the board with his third goal of the championship. On their 8th powerplay goal of the tournament, Mozyakin and defenseman Maxim Chudinov connected for a give-and-go before Mozyakin fired a slapshot home from the top of the circles.
The story of the game after two periods was Russia’s discipline. Despite taking 14 penalties in their prior four games, they took only one against Slovakia in the first two periods. This lack of five-on-fours for Slovakia slowed them down and kept them from gaining momentum, keeping it a 1-1 game through two.
The first two goals of the game were both scored in the early minutes of a period, and the third goal was no different. Only a minute into the 3rd period, after Slovakia hit both a crossbar and a post, Vladimir Tarasenko took the puck down almost the entire ice and went top shelf on Slovak goalie Julius Hudacek. With Russia now in the lead, 2-1, Slovakia’s life in the tournament was on the line for the rest of third.
Halfway through the third, Marian Gaborik put up his third goal of the tournament with a slap shot from the top of the circles, tying the game 2-2. The goal was redemption for Gaborik, who rang the crossbar early in the period before the Russians took the 2-1 lead.
The rest of the third period solved nothing between the two teams, as overtime was required to break the deadlock. Midway through OT, Russian forward and future Chicago Blackhawk Artemy Panarin broke through the Slovakian zone on an end-to-end rush before squeezing a hard wrist shot through the pads of Hudacek, giving Russia the 3-2 overtime win and two points in the standings.
This game all but ruined Slovakia’s chances at making the playoffs. To qualify for the playoffs, Slovakia will need to get at least 2 points in their final game against the United States, and hope that Belarus loses in regulation to both Finland and Norway. The other option is for Slovakia to get the full 3 points against the United States, and for Belarus to pick up only 1 point combined in their games against Finland and Norway.
While they aren’t mathematically out yet, it’s likely that we will not see Slovakia in the tournament playoffs this time around.
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