MINSK- If this was a statement game by the Russians of their intentions to compete for gold in this tournament, the message was received. In a dominating performance, Russia defeated USA 6-1.
The Americans lost by the widest margin against Russia at the World Championships since 1991 when they lost to URS 12-2.
Russia also made amends for their 8-3 loss to the Americans in Helsinki at last years World Championships.
Alexander Ovechkin’s first period penalty shot game winning goal powered Russia en route to their third win in as many games in the tournament.
USA skated out to a chorus of boos in what was decidedly a pro Russia crowd. If anything has been as signature here at Minsk Arena is the capacity crowd favoring the home team Belarus or Russia when they play.
Between the spectators and the Russian puck pursuit, the American found themselves on the defensive early on. Russia enjoyed many key chances that kept Tim Thomas and the defense working.
Sergei Kalinin had two good opportunities to score off passes from Danis Zaripov. On both occasions, Thomas made the stop.
Russia made it 1-0 when Nikolai Kulyomin scored off a rebound of a Yevgeni Medvedev shot. Just after Jacob Trouba’s tripping penalty had ended, Artyom Anisimov sent a backhand pass to Medvedev whose initial shot was stopped by Thomas but Kulyomin sent in the rebound.
USA head coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout at 13:54 to try and settle team his team down.
There were a few good chances by the Americans but the majority of the action came from the Russians who were first to many loose pucks, aggressive on their forecheck and generally playing at a high, up-tempo pace.
With time winding down in the first period, Russia would add to their lead. With 1:13 remaining, defenseman Danny DeKeyser was called for hooking Ovechkin down from behind when he was on a break. A penalty shot was called.
When the whistle sounded, Ovechkin went wide and closed in on Thomas, sending a backhand over the American netminder.
In the second period, Russia turned things up even more. With four goals in the period, they put the game away and chased Thomas from the net.
20 seconds in, Viktor Tikhonov took a lead pass from Ovechkin to make it 3-1.
Team USA would answer back shortly after when Justin AbdelKader tipped a Jeff Petry pass in the net past Andrei Vasilevski who was making his first World Championship tournament start. The goal came at 19:03.
At the halfway point of the middle period, Yuri Kuznetsov and Sergei Plotnikov scored exactly two minutes apart to make it a four goal lead. After Plotnikov’s goal, David Leggio relieved Thomas.
The lead was extended when Tim Stapleton fell down while attempting a pass near the Russian blueline. This gave the Russians a 3-on-0 heading into the American zone. Tikhonov, who opened the period with a goal, closed it with another.
Team USA outshot Russia 17-7 but were outscored 4-1.
With no scoring in the third, the score remained 6-1. The Russian juggernaut continues on while the Americans need to regroup and focus next on Switzerland.