Mikhail Grigorenko scored a third-period goal to tie the game, but Russia couldn’t stifle a talented Swedish attack down the stretch en route to dropping a 3-2 decision Tuesday at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Sweden dictated the pace of play early, taking away the Russians’ time and space and winning possession battles to get goals from Andreas Johnson (TOR) and Nick Sorensen (ANA) to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Russia halved the deficit with an Alexander Barabanov power play tally in the24th minute, and despite Sweden continuing to carry the play for the balance of the second period, emerged with bit of a boost in the final twenty minutes.
Just past the midway of the third period with Russia again on the power play, Grigorenko raced behind the Swedish net to a loose puck, chipped it to a teammate, and rotated to the edge of the crease, where he set a screen and deflected a Pavel Buchnevich (NYR) shot to knot the score at two goals apiece. The goal, which came with 8:08 remaining in regulation, gives Grigorenko six points (3+3) through four tourney games.
The game would remained tied until Jacob de la Rose (MTL) hit the front of the net and tipped a Gustav Oloffson (MIN) shot for the game winning goal with 2:21 left on the clock.
Team Russia defenseman Nikita Zadorov went without a point for the second straight game, finishing with one shot on goal while showing flashes of his puck-rushing ability.
The victory gives Sweden a first-place finish in Group B, setting up a Thursday quarterfinal matchup versus Slovakia. With the loss, Russia concludes pool play in the third position.
In Group A, Canada rode a 24-save performance from Zachary Fucale (MTL) to earn a 3-2 victory over the United States. The regulation win allowed Canada to leapfrog the United States into first place at the close of pool play.
After a scoreless opening frame, USA’s Riley Barber (WSH) and Canada’s Nic Petan (WPG) traded second-period strikes to set the stage for an exciting third period. Canada broke the game open from there, getting goals from highly touted 2015 draft prospect Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar (OTT) to take a 3-1 lead.
USA closed the gap with a Stefan Matteau (NJD) tally with 2:45 to play, but Fucale held his ground as the Americans applied pressure with the extra attacker.
Next up for Canada is a single-elimination game versus Switzerland on Thursday. The United States, by virtue of their second-place finish, draws a tough quarterfinal matchup with Russia.
Elsewhere, Sabres prospect Rasmus Ristolainen missed his second-straight game due to illness as Finland completed the preliminary round with a 4-3 shootout loss to Switzerland. Flavio Schmutz, Fabrice Herzog (TOR) and Nico Dunner provided regulation markers for the Swiss. Ville Pokka (NYI), Aleksi Mustonen, and Saku Mäenalanen (NSH) countered for Finland, who moves on to the quarterfinal to face the Czech Republic.
In the day’s early game, top draft prospect David Pastrnak notched a goal and an assist as the Czech Republic avoided the relegation round with a 4-1 victory over Slovakia. Martin Prochazka added a goal and two assists, while 2014 draft eligible Ondrej Kase provided a single marker for the Czechs, who claimed third place in Group A.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.