In the second semifinal of the 20155 IIHF World Championship in Czech Republic, Russia defeated USA 4-0 for the opportunity to play for gold against Canada and the chance to repeat as champions.
Both teams had chances early on, but both goaltenders - Sergei Bobrovsky and Connor Hellebuyck - came up with huge saves and set the tone for the game.
First, it was Yevgeni Dadonov, Russia's leading scorer, with a great shot in the slot, but Hellebuyck snagged it right out of the air. Then, Jimmy Vesey had a great chance on the doorstop that was stopped by Bobrovsky.
Midway through the opening period, they'd again trade chances as Artemi Panarin fired a shot from the corner that deflected wide followed by another great chance for Vesey in the slot on the very next shift. Late in the period, Hellebuyck made a huge save with the toe of his pad on a shot by Malkin in the crease with just over a minute left to keep the game scoreless.
In the second period, Anders Lee and Charlie Coyle cycled the puck well and had a couple good opportunities, but Bobrovsky was there every time. Later on, Vladimir Tarasenko had two great opportunities. Then, it was Ilya Kovalchuk with a good look, followed by Yevgeni Malkin, but Hellebuyck was there with big save after big save after big save.
With seven minutes left in the second, Jack Eichel shot from the circles, Lee scooped up the rebound with Bobrovsky sprawled out on the ice giving him a wide open net, but he fired high. Soon after, Dylan Larkin had a great look that went high as well and this game was still scoreless after 40 minutes of play.
"I felt really good out there…like this may have been my strongest game of the tournament," said Vesey. "I kept getting chances and it was 0-0 so I was hoping one of them would fall. Unfortuantely, that didn't happen for me."
The goalie dual continued until Larkin fired a bomb from the blue line that Bobrovsky got just enough of to redirect it to the corner where it careened up the ice and right to Sergei Mozyakin's stick. He carried it up ice, through the neutral zone and let a wrister go that beat Hellebuyck to give Russia the 1-0 lead with 12:43 left in regulation.
Three minutes later, defenseman Justin Faulk loses an edge on the blueline, Ovechkin swoops into the offensive zone uncontested and beats Hellebuyck five hole with 9:41 left in regulation.
With the clock winding down and USA applying the pressure, Vadim Shipachyov pounced on a loose puck in the slot and Russia extends their lead to 3-0 with 4:32 left in regulation. Twenty seconds later, Hellebuyck goes off for the extra attacker as USA goes all in, but it didn't workout quite like they had wanted. With 1:25 left in the game, Ovechkin fakes out Torey Krug and goes 2-on-0 with Malkin against an empty net. 4-0 Russia.
A 35-save shutout for Bobrovsky as the Russians advance to the gold medal game against Canada to defend their title. The game will air live on NBCSN at 11:45am PT
"I've seen Bobrovsky do that a number of times," said Richards. "He's a great goaltender and he can win games on his own."
USA will play Czech Republic for bronze at 7am PT streamed live on NBCSports LiveExtra.
"We have a quick turnaround, but this next game is just as big for us," said Vesey. "Our goal was to get a medal at the end of this and that's still on the table. It won't be gold, but we don't want to go away empty handed."