Adding David Pastrňák and David Krejčí paid off immediately. Not only did the Czechs break Russia’s three-game shutout streak with the magic of the two Boston Bruins stars, but they also triumphed 4-3 on Thursday on Pastrňák’s overtime winner.
The goal at 3:23 was a masterpiece of craftiness. After taking Krejčí’s pass on the rush, Pastrňák couldn’t beat Russian starter Vasili Koshechkin with his initial deke, but he retrieved the puck behind the net and banked it in off defenceman Yegor Yakovlev in the crease.
Pastrňák finished with two goals and an assist and Krejčí had a goal and three assists. Dmitrij Jaškin added a single for the Czechs. Meanwhile, Alexander Barabanov led Russia with a goal and an assist, and Nikita Nesterov and Mikhail Grigorenko also tallied.
Despite their third extra-time win of the 2018 IIHF World Championship, the Czechs sit fifth in Group A with six points, behind Slovakia. Russia is second in the group with 10 points, behind perfect Sweden.
Koshechkin’s personal shutout streak ended at 114:41, as backup Igor Shestyorkin played the final period in the 7-0 romp over Austria. (The modern-day World Championship record belongs to Finland’s Pekka Rinne, who did not allow a goal for 237:05 in 2015.) While the shots were only 25-23 for the Czechs, both teams generated high-quality chances. It was an tight-checking yet exciting showdown between two traditional rivals in front of a jacked-up sell-out crowd of 12,490 at Copenhagen’s Royal Arena.
Russia drew first blood at 1:11. From the left side, Barabanov stickhandled through rookie blueliner Filip Hronek, cut to the net and was stopped by goalie David Rittich, but the rebound squirted out to Nesterov, who hammered it home high to the stick side. That was the first goal by a Russian defenceman at these Worlds. Chants of “Rossiya!” energized the building, and the Czech fans got loud too.
At 14:41, Krejčí gobbled up a loose puck in the high slot and beat Koshechkin high to the stick side to tie it up. The 32-year-old Krejčí led the NHL playoffs in scoring in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and in 2013 when they lost the final to the Chicago Blackhawks.
At 18:39, an unguarded Jaškin made it 2-1 with his third goal of the tournament when Pastrňák found him unguarded in the slot to beat Koshechkin. Jaškin pumped his fist and pointed straight to his new 21-year-old linemate, who currently sits third in NHL playoff scoring with 20 points despite Boston’s elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Both the goals and the great saves came fast and furious in the second period.
The Russians took just one minute to knot the score with classic Soviet-style playmaking. Artem Anisimov sent the puck behind the the Czech net to Pavel Buchnevich, and he pivoted to send a lovely backhanded pass out front to Grigorenko, who lifted it past Rittich. Moments later, the Czech netminder came up big to foil Anisimov on a shorthanded breakaway.
When the Czechs failed to convert on an odd-man rush, Krejčí grabbed the puck behind the net and coolly centred it to Pastrňák. He put it in the open side to the goalie’s left for a 3-2 lead at 4:17.
Just 1:32 later, Zaitsev faked a slap shot from the right faceoff circle and instead slid it to Barabanov, who had all day to slide it into the gaping cage. Rittich then robbed Zaitsev with a right pad save during a Russian power play.
Czech fans jeered when Tomáš Plekanec was called for goaltender interference with under four minutes left in the middle frame. Plekanec ran into Koshechkin on an odd-man break with Dominik Kubalek, as Zaitsev checked him from behind. During the ensuing power play, Yevgeni Dadonov managed to hit both posts with a wacky centre point shot that bounced off the ice, but the score remained 3-3.
In the scoreless final stanza, the teams traded power plays and the Czechs came perilously close to taking the lead with Buchnevich in the box. Krejčí set up Pastrňák for a stellar one-timer that Kosheckin got over to block. Late in regulation, Russia hemmed their opponents in but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal. The Krejčí line also came calling with an effective forecheck.
The Russians have placed leading 2018 Olympic scorer Nikita Gusev and goalie Ilya Sorokin on their roster, but neither suited up against the Czechs.
Russia missed its chance to open the IIHF World Championship with four straight regulation wins for the first time since its last Worlds gold run in Minsk 2014. It’s the first setback for new head coach Ilya Vorobyov. The Riga-born 43-year-old surprisingly replaced Oļegs Znaroks, who guided the Olympic Athletes of Russia to gold in February. He was previously Znarok’s assistant.
Next up, the Czech Republic faces winless Belarus on Friday, while the Russians take on Switzerland on Saturday.
01:11 – GOAL – Nesterov (Barabanov, Kablukov)
14:41 – GOAL – Krejčí (Jaškin, Gudas)
18:39 – GOAL – Jaškin (Pastrňák, Krejčí)
21:00 – GOAL – Grigorenko (Buchnevich, Anisimov)
21:30 – PEN – Khafizullin, interference
24:17 – GOAL – Pastrňák (Krejčí)
25:49 – GOAL – Barabanov (Zaitsev, Shalunov)
27:08 – PEN – Šulák, slashing
36:16 – PEN – Plekanec, interference
45:57 – PEN – Polášek, cross checking
47:51 – PEN – Buchnevich, high sticking
63:23 – GOAL – Pastrňák (Krejčí, Hronek)
W: Rittich (20-23)
L: Koshechkin (21-25)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+5+4+4 = 25
4+8+11+0 = 23
Goaltenders: Pavel Francouz, David Rittich. Defence: Radko Gudas (A), Filip Hronek, Michal Jordán, Michal Moravčík, Adam Polášek, David Sklenička, Libor Šulák. Forwards: Roman Červenka (C), Filip Chytil, Radek Faksa, Roman Horák, Tomáš Hyka, Dmitrij Jaškin, David Krejčí, Dominik Kubalík, Martin Nečas, Andrej Nestrašil, David Pastrňák, Tomáš Plekanec (A), Michal Řepík.
Goaltenders: Vasili Koshechkin, Igor Shestyorkin. Defence: Vladislav Gavrikov, Dinar Khafizullin, Bogdan Kiselevich, Nikita Nesterov, Niktia Tryamkin, Yegor Yakovlev, Nikita Zaitsev. Forwards: Sergei Andronov (A), Artyom Anisimov, Alexander Barabanov, Pavel Buchnevich, Yevgeni Dadonov (A), Pavel Datsyuk (C), Mikhail Grigorenko, Ilya Kablukov, Kirill Kaprizov, Maxim Mamin, Ilya Mikheyev, Maxim Shalunov, Nikita Soshnikov.
|Last Title||reign ends
(+ 20 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CZE vs. RUS)
URS 4-0 TCH – 02/27/1955 – WC – Krefeld
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CZE vs. RUS)
CZE 4-3 RUS – 02/07/2015 – EHT – Prague
|Last IHLC Game
RUS 6-0 BLR – 05/07/2018 – WC – Copenhagen
|Next IHLC Game
CZE 3-0 BLR – 05/11/2018 – WC – Copenhagen