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World Juniors Recap: USA 3, Russia 1

USA scores twice in 6 seconds to secure win against Russia

by Peter Ekholm @ekholmpeter

Ostrava/Trinec, Czech Republic - Team USA scored two goals six seconds apart to win 3-1 against Team Russia at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship on Sunday. 

Both goals came late in the second period, making it a 2-0 game. 

At 16:41, Arthur Kaliyev took advantage of a power play, scoring on a one-timer off Trevor Zegras' cross ice pass. At 16:46, the puck ended up behind Amir Miftakhov again. This time, Nick Robertson converted on a bouncing puck in front of the Russian goaltender. Oliver Wahlstrom was given the assist. 

"We were all excited and had some fortune off the draw," Robertson said. "Wahlstrom got the puck and made a nice feed to me, and I just tapped it. It went in. It was good."

The Americans won their second straight game in the tournament and fifth in a row against Russia at WJC level. With the win, USA, which was coming off a 6-3 win against Team Germany on Friday, moves into first place in Group B.

Though both teams had power play opportunities, the first period was kept scoreless by USA goaltender Spencer Knight and by Miftakhov. Russia had a four-minute power play and created scoring chances, but Knight was solid between the pipes. 

"Obviously Russia is a very good hockey team, but we approached it right and just played hockey," said Knight, who made 25 saves in the victory.

Alexander Khovanov hit the post for Team Russia on a power play early in the second. Rangers prospect Zac Jones then had two shots on goal, but the defenseman couldn't find the net behind Miftakhov. The 0-0 score wasn't illustrative of the game; both teams were creating chances. It was Team USA, however, that struck first. 

In the third, Kaliyev extended Team USAs's lead at 1:20 when his wrist shot from the top of the left circle found a way through Miftakhov's pads. The goal led Team Russia Head Coach Valeri Bragin to make a goalie switch, and Miftakhov was replaced by Yaroslav Askarov.

"I'm just trying to help the team win," Kaliyev said. "Whatever it takes. Getting on the board there was huge after having a 0-0 game after half the game there."

The Russians were coming off a 6-0 win against team Canada on Saturday but were held scoreless through the first two periods on Sunday. At 3:04 of the third period, the Russians found a way to score on Knight. A slap shot from Alexander Romanov found its way in to the back of the net and Russia begun its rally attempt. Knight, however, continued his solid play between the pipes and the Russians couldn't capitalize. 

"They have a lot of talent on their team," Knight said. "A really good system, and overall, really good players. I think it's really fun playing them because it's always really good competition".

Russia went 0-for-6 on the power play, having one opportunity in the third.  

"Our PK was better tonight," Team USA Head Coach Scott Sandelin said. "Ending of the Germany game, too, helped them. They killed two at the end, 5-on-3, and the way they competed at the end... Obviously Steve Miller did a good job preparing our guys against these guys, and our guys did what we needed to do - some blocked shots and key saves."

Rangers prospect K'Andre Miller played 19:24 and had one shot on goal, while Jones got 15:24 of ice time and had three shots on net. 

With one game remaining in this round, the win was important for the Americans. Group B has, so far, been a tight race with all five teams - USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Canada and Germany - earning one win ahead of Sunday's action. 

Team USA finishes the group stage on Monday when it takes on the Czech Republic.

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