Russia defenseman Nikita Zadorov scored two second-period power-play goals to help rally his team to a 5-3 victory against the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday.
Russia advances to the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the quarterfinal later Thursday between Sweden and Slovakia.
After earning medals in two of the past three WJC events, including the gold at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia, the Americans will go home this year without a medal.
Playing a huge part in the triumph for Russia was goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy who finished with 30 saves, including 16 over the final two periods. Vasilevskiy, a 2012 first-round pick (No. 19) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, rebounded well after allowing three goals on 17 shots in the opening 20 minutes.
His best save in the third came at 11:09 when he denied Ryan Hartman, a 2013 first-round draft choice (No. 30) of the Chicago Blackhawks, off a strong move to the slot on a play that actually resulted in a Russian penalty. He also stopped defenseman Matthew Grzelcyk with less than one minute remaining on a blast from the left faceoff dot and U.S. goalie Jon Gillies pulled for an extra attacker.
New York Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich scored two goals for Russia, including an empty-net goal with just 28 seconds left, and Edmonton Oilers prospect Anton Slepyshev had three assists. Slepyshev, the Russian captain, was named the player of the game for his team.
Zadorov, chosen by the Buffalo Sabres with the 16th pick of the 2013 draft, scored a pair of power-play goals in a span of 1:01 in the second to give his country a 4-3 lead. Both goals were scored with Russia on a 5-on-3 man advantage after the Americans were assessed three minor penalties in a 57-second span.
The first extra-man goal by Zadorov came with Stefan Matteau (tripping) and Thomas Di Pauli (hooking) in the penalty box midway through the period. Zadorov teed up a feed from Slepyshev in the right circle and blasted a shot past Gillies to pull his team into a 3-3 tie at 13:15.
Zadorov's second came with Di Pauli still in the box and Steven Santini (delay of game) off the ice. That's when Zadorov took a pass from Slepyshev and unleashed another bomb from the center of the blue line point that beat Gillies over his glove to give Russia a 4-3 lead at 14:16.
Vasilevskiy was tremendous in the second period with a few big stops. After a shaky first period, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound goalie turned away all seven shots in his direction in the middle period.
His best save came six minutes into the period when he denied Hartman off an odd-man rush with Grzelcyk when he threw out his right pad at the last second. He later stopped Di Pauli by hugging the right post at 7:43.
In a bit of a shakeup, U.S. coach Don Lucia opted to make a shift on left wing on his second and third lines. He promoted Matteau to the second unit alongside Hartman and center Jack Eichel. Adam Erne, who had played the entirety of the tournament in that spot, was shifted to Matteau's spot on a line with Hudson Fasching and center Andrew Copp.
The move seemed to reinvigorate Matteau, who had a goal and an assist in the opening 20 minutes when the teams combined for five goals.
The U.S. took its first lead late in the first when Nicolas Kerdiles collected a waist-high pass from Riley Barber at the Russian blue line and whipped a shot past a surprised Vasilevskiy high to the short side at 16:51 for a 3-2 edge. It appeared as though Vasilevskiy thought he had the short side covered but Kerdiles found some room for his second of the tournament.
The United States pulled into a 2-2 tie midway through the first when Hartman took a pass from Matteau while skating hard down the slot and beat Vasilevskiy with a backhand shot at 11:23.
Mikhail Grigorenko, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2012, gave Russia a 1-0 lead 6:17 into the first when he took a feed from Slepyshev and scored his team-leading fourth goal of at the right post. The U.S. squared the contest when Matteau cleaned up a rebound at 8:50. Eichel made the play happen when he skated hard down right wing, curled behind the Russian net and got a shot on Vasilevskiy that the Russian goalie stopped, but Matteau scored on the rebound.
Russia took a 2-1 lead when Buchnevich jammed a shot home off the right post while Gillies was sprawled on the ice at 9:11.