Nikita Zadorov blasted home a pair of power play strikes Thursday to thrust Russia to a 5-3 quarterfinal victory over the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. Mikhail Grigorenko also scored for Russia, who ended USA’s quest to defend the gold medal earned at the 2013 event in Russia.
USA/RUSSIA GAME SUMMARY
Grigorenko opened the scoring at 6:17 of the first period when he was in the right place at the right time to bat a loose puck past USA goalie Jon Gillies (CGY). The marker gives Grigorenko seven points (4+3) through five tourney games.
The Americans would claw back with goals from Stefan Matteau (NJD), Ryan Hartman (CHI) and Nic Kerdiles (ANA) to capture a 3-2 lead at the first intermission. Pavel Buchnevich (NYR) replied with the other Russian marker.
Play tightened up in the middle frame until penalty trouble plagued the Americans, allowing Zadorov to step into two one-timers just 1:01 apart to quickly put Russia in front 4-3 at the end of two periods. The goals, which both came with Russia holding a two-man advantage, were all that Russia needed as they held off the USA attack the rest of the way before getting a Buchnevich empty-net tally late to advance to the semifinal round.
Zadorov’s second two-goal game of the tournament gives him four marks in five games, placing him in the tournament lead among all defenders.
In other quarterfinal action, Rasmus Ristolainen returned from his two-game absence due to illness, recording three shots on goal and an even rating as Finland overcame a two-goal deficit to claim a 5-3 win over the Czech Republic. Saku Maenalanen (NSH) scored twice while Teuvo Teravainen (CHI) connected for two helpers to keep the Finns in medal contention.
FINLAND/CZECH REPUBLIC GAME SUMMARY
Anthony Mantha (DET) scored the game-winning goal on a second-period penalty shot as Canada advanced to the semifinal round with a 4-1 triumph over Switzerland. Griffin Reinhart (NYI), Curtis Lazar (OTT) and Derrick Pouliot (PIT) also scored for the Canadians. Zachary Fucale (MTL) held down the fort with 19 saves to earn his third-straight victory of the tournament.
CANADA/SWITZERLAND GAME SUMMARY
In the day’s final action, NHL first-rounders Elias Lindholm (1+3) and Filip Forsberg (2+2) each had four points to propel host Sweden to a 6-0 thumping of Slovakia. The Swedes dominated all facets of the game, including a 40-18 shot advantage, to remain undefeated. Goaltender Oscar Dansk (CBJ) finished with 18 saves for his first shutout of the tournament.
SWEDEN/SLOVAKIA GAME SUMMARY
Semifinal action takes place Saturday with all three Sabres prospects remaining in the medal hunt. In the early game, Zadorov and Grigorenko hope to continue their hot hands when Russia battles Sweden (10 a.m., NHL Network). The Russians will be looking to avenge their 3-2 loss to Sweden in preliminary round play. Ristolainen will again be counted on to log big all-situations minutes as Finland takes on Canada in the nightcap (1:30 p.m., NHL Network).
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.