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Kucherov, Vasilevskiy shine as Russia remains undefeated

Kucherov recorded a goal and an assist while Vasilevskiy earned his third-straight victory

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tournament scoring leader Nikita Kucherov recorded a goal and assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy remained perfect with 26 stops on 27 shots as Russia pulled away from Latvia 3-1 to remain undefeated and atop Group B at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.

Russia is the only unbeaten team remaining at the World Championship.

Kucherov had the second assist on Nikita Gusev's game-winning power-play goal 3:50 into the second period. Minutes earlier, Dmitry Orlovr got the Russians on the board and tied the game 1-1 just :27 seconds into the second period after Russia exited the first down 1-0, Oskars Cibulskis netting Latvia's only goal against Vasilevskiy with :11 seconds remaining on a 4-on-3 power play. Vasilevskiy made a fantastic blocker deflection save on a rebound at the end of the first to keep the deficit to only one goal.

Later in the second period, Kucherov scored his fourth goal of the tournament and Russia's last of three goals in the first 12:40 of the second period to take over the game. Artem Anisimov backhanded a puck on the wall to a charging Kucherov at the blue line, the Lightning right wing splitting the Latvian defense and beating Elvis Merzlikins one-on-one with a forehand at the net.

Kucherov leads the competition for scoring with 12 points and is tied for the assist lead with the Czech Republic's Jakub Voracek at eight. Kucherov's four goals are second most on Russia behind Evgenii Dadonov's six.

Vasilevskiy has won all four of his starts and has allowed just three total goals on 92 shots for the tournament. Vasilevskiy's .967 save percentage and 0.75 goals-against average are both second best among all tourney goalies behind Switzerland's Reto Berra (2 shutouts in 2 games).

Russia plays Switzerland, tied for second place in Group B, on Sunday.

A pair of Tampa Bay forwards combined for Canada's final goal in an 8-1 rout of Germany to remain among the leaders in Group A.

Anthony Cirelli scored his third goal of the tournament on an assist from Mathieu Joseph, who registered his first assist and second point. Canada pulled into a tie with Germany for second place, a point behind group leaders Finland.

Host country Slovakia won its second-consecutive game following a 7-1 dismantling of Great Britain to keep alive its hopes of advancing out of the round robin stage.

Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak did not record a point in the victory for the Slovaks but was plus-3 in 17:12 time on ice.

Slovakia occupies fifth place in Group A with one round robin game remaining, Tuesday versus Denmark.

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