Two Buffalo Sabres prospects helped Russia steamroll Norway on the first day of the IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov scored a pair of goals Thursday and center Mikhail Grigorenko added a goal and two assists as Russia struck five times in each of the first two periods to cruise to an 11-0 win over Norway in their opening game of the tournament.
Zadorov put the Russians ahead 2-0 at 6:26 of the opening frame when he accepted a centering a pass and buried a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle high over the shoulder of the Norwegian netminder.
Grigorenko earned a secondary helper on the Zadorov marker.
Russia kept their foot on the gas with two more first-period goals before Grigorenko got one of his own. Cruising through the neutral zone, the talented centerman took a feed at the blue line, skated in 1-on-1 with a defender and quickly released a wrist shot to give Russia a 5-0 lead.
RUSSIA VS. NORWAY HIGHLIGHTS
With Russia well in control of the action, Zadorov put forth a great individual effort to score his second goal of the game, stealing the puck in his own zone while on the penalty kill and skating all the way down the left side to score a short-side marker and give Russia a 9-0 lead with 2:42 to play in the second period.
In addition to notching three points, Grigorenko would finish the game with a plus-4 rating and six faceoff wins on 14 tries. Zadorov scored on both of his shots on goal while logging a plus-3 rating.
Russia, who dominated all facets of the game including a 35-14 shot advantage, moves on to face an underrated Switzerland squad on Saturday.
USA VS. CZECH REPUBLIC
Elsewhere, Jon Gillies (Calgary) stopped 23 of 24 shots as the United States began defense of their gold medal with a 5-1 triumph over the Czech Republic.
Riley Barber (Washington) and Will Butcher (Colorado) put the Americans in front 2-0 at the first intermission, while Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles), Jaccob Slavin (Carolina) and Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) provided additional goal support over the final 40 minutes. USA continues pool play Saturday against Slovakia.
CANADA VS. GERMANY
(CLICK HERE FOR HIGHLIGHTS)
Anthony Mantha (Detroit) snatched a hat trick and 2014 NHL Draft-eligible forward Sam Reinhart recorded a goal and a helper as Canada got their World Junior Championship off on the right foot with a 7-2 victory over Germany.
Canada led 4-2 after the opening 20 minutes, but locked it down defensively the rest of the way while limiting top draft prospect Leon Draisaitl to just two shots on goal. Next up for Canada is a Saturday date with the Czech Republic. The Germans will look to even their record Friday when they take on Slovakia.
SWEDEN VS. SWITZERLAND
In the final opening day tilt, Filip Forsberg (Nashville) scored a goal and two assists as host Sweden earned a hard-fought 5-3 decision over Switzerland. Defenseman Christian Djoos (Washington) potted a power play marker to break a 3-3 tie early in the third period before Andreas Johnson (Toronto) bagged the insurance goal with under three minutes left in regulation. Sweden gets a day off before battling rival Finland on Saturday.
On Friday, Rasmus Ristolainen is expected to be in the lineup as Finland opens round robin play against Norway. The smooth defensive anchor – who hasn’t seen any game action since sustaining an upper-body on while playing for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League – should play a pivotal role for Finland’s Under-20 squad for the third straight year.