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Russia falls short of WJC Final, falls to Sweden 3-2

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning prospects representing Team Russia at the World Junior Championships gave a valiant effort, but fell short of playing in Saturday’s gold-medal game following a 3-2 loss in the shootout to Sweden today.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves, but let in two early goals that put Sweden up a pair after the first period. Nikita Kucherov again found the score sheet, registering an assist, while Artem Sergeev and Nikita Nesterov were held scoreless.

The disappointed Russians will take on Canada for bronze on Saturday before the Sweden-U.S. final. The host nation missed a chance to win its first World U20 title on home ice since 1983 in Leningrad, with a team featuring the likes of Sergei Nemchinov and Ilya Byakin.

In regulation time, Elias Lindholm and Filip Forsberg scored for Sweden.

Andrei Mironov and Mikhail Grigorenko replied for Russia, which overcame a two-goal deficit but will now have to regroup quickly under coach Mikhail Varnakov in search of bronze. No host team has won this tournament since Canada in 2009.

Despite Russia's gallant effort, Sweden was better-organized both offensively and defensively overall.

The Russians initially couldn’t get it together after rallying to defeat Switzerland 4-3 in a quarterfinal shootout the day before. Here, it took close to 15 minutes for them to register their first shot on goal.

Russia also ran into penalty trouble early, as Forsberg got Pavel Koledov to take Russia’s second straight minor with some effective cycling in the Russian end.

The Russians kept coming however, rallying furiously to get a goal in each of the final two frames, then holding Sweden scoreless in overtime to force the shootout tiebreaker.

Unlike the quarterfinal just the day before, though, this one ended in disappointing fashion as Sebastian Collberg finished off the opposition to send his native country into Saturday’s final.

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