Nikolai Zherdev's decision to keep playing hockey beyond the Rangers' playoff exit paid off on Sunday as Zherdev captured his first World Championship gold medal with Team Russia in Bern, Switzerland.
|Nikolai Zherdev poses with his first World Championship gold medal as part of a team shot taken after the Russians beat Canada on Sunday in Bern, Switzerland. |
Although he earned a medal as part of the winning team, Zherdev did not play in the gold-medal game, missing his second straight contest at the World tournament due to what is believed to be an injury. His participation in earlier games, helping Russia finish with a perfect 9-0-0 record, was enough to earn him a medal.
The Russians beat Canada 2-1 on Sunday evening, wrapping up their second straight World Championship crown. Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was the difference in the game for Russia. Bryzgalov stopped 37 shots, including all 26 he faced over the game's last two periods.
Canada outshot the Russians 38-17, but the gold medal-winners managed to beat goalie Dwayne Roloson on two of their 17 shots.
Ottawa Senators star Jason Spezza got the Canadians off to an early 1-0 lead, when he scored off assists from captain Shane Doan and defenseman Shea Weber at 5:37 of the first period. That advantage lasted for just over seven minutes until the Russians cashed in on their second power-play chance of the night.
Former NHL player Oleg Saprykin, now with the KHL's CSKA Moscow, got the tying goal at 12:59 of the first, scoring off assists from his defensemen, Metallurg Magnitogorsk's Vitaly Atyushov and Phoenix's Dmitri Kalinin, who spent most of the 2008-09 season with the Rangers before being dealt to the Coyotes at the March 4 NHL trade deadline.
Alexander Radulov, the Nashville Predators star who spent last season in Russia, made it a 2-1 game at 14:30 of the second period, scoring at even strength with Gorivikov and Saprykin picking up assists. Radulov, Russia's second-leading scorer behind Ilya Kovalchuk, picked up his 10th point in nine games on what proved to be the gold-medal clinching goal.
Kovalchuk did not score in the final game, but his dominating performance throughout the tournament earned him MVP honors.
Also on Sunday, Sweden captured the bronze with a 4-2 win over Team USA -- denying the Americans their first World Championship medal since 2004. The Swedes broke a 2-2 tie when 22-year-old defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, scored at the 9:00 mark of the second period. Jack Johnson and Joe Pavelski tallied the U.S. goals, but Swedish goalie Stefan Liv made 37 saves to frustrate the Americans.