Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev will have a chance to bring his first gold medal home from the World Championship tournament in Bern, Switzerland, even though he might not play for Russia in Sunday's gold-medal game.
|Nikolai Zherdev |
Zherdev, who had 23 goals and 58 points for the Blueshirts in 2008-09, missed Friday's semifinal game against Team USA due to what is believed to be an injury suffered earlier in the tournament.
He was replaced on Russia's second line by former Montreal Canadiens forward Alexander Perezhogin, who helped Russia to a 3-2 victory over the U.S. team.
Russia, a perfect 8-0-0 at this year's tournament, will face Canada in Sunday's gold-medal game. The Canadians beat Sweden 3-1 in Friday's other semifinal.
Even if he misses the game, Zherdev will receive either the gold or silver medal for having played in earlier tournament games.
Konstantin Gorovikov, a former Ottawa Senators draft pick who never reached the NHL, scored the game-winner for Russia when he beat goalie Robert Esche with only 1:47 remaining in the third period. The goal was assisted by Alexander Radulov, the Nashville Predators star who spent the past season playing in Russia.
Los Angeles' Dustin Brown, the team captain, and the Islanders' Kyle Okposo scored for the Americans, while Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Frolov, Brown's NHL teammate with the Kings, had the other Russian goals.
Brown got the U.S. team out to a 1-0 lead at 3:46 of the second period before Kovalchuk answered to tie it just under eight minutes later. Frolov put Russia up 2-1 at 14:25 of the third period before Okposo scored off an assist from Ron Hainsey at 18:03, setting up the dramatic third period.
Team USA outshot the Russians, 20-18, but the Americans were stifled by Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made six saves in the third period.
The U.S. team, coached by Ron Wilson, will face the Sweden for bronze on Sunday. The Americans will be looking for their first World Championship medal since winning bronze in 2004. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
was honored as a First Team All-Star in that 2004 tournament for leading the Swedes to the gold-medal game.