International Ice Hockey Federation

Turning on the power

Turning on the power

Six PP goals lead Russia to a rout

Published 07.05.2017 14:59 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Turning on the power
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 7: Russia's Aretmi Panarin #72 celebrates with Anton Belov #77, Sergei Mozyakin #10, Vadim Shipachyov #87 and Yevgeni Dadonov #63 after scoring a second period goal against Italy's Frederic Cloutier #29 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Russia's offence delivered a high-voltage performance as it overwhelmed Italy with a deadly PP and eight points from its Tampa Bay Lightning duo.

Russia had little difficulty in overpowering Italy to record its second victory of this year’s World Championship in Cologne. A perfect power play brought six of Russia’s goals in a 10-1 triumph that maintains the Red Machine’s early stranglehold on Group A.

The final scoreline only told part of the story of a meeting that Russians dominated throughout. Italy, so close to landing a surprise win over Slovakia on Saturday, was simply unable to ask any significant questions of its opponent in the first period when the play was overwhelmingly around Frederic Cloutier’s net, with Russia able to recycle the puck in the Italian zone almost at will. Italy's first power play, in the 15th minute, summed up the gap between the teams: Italy, despite its man advantage, was unable to get a single shot on Andrei Vasilevski. Even short-handed, Russia was too strong all over the ice.

If there was any cause for Russian concern in those early stages, it lay in the lack of scoring. The squaddra azzurra deployed a deep defence, seeking to block up the ice and shut down shooting lanes. As such, Russia needed to unpick that lock, a process that took nine minutes. Sergei Andronov made the breakthrough, claiming his second goal in his rookie World Championship when he got the touch on an Alexander Barabanov shot to beat Cloutier. The floodgates, though, failed to open immediately. Despite dominating the game, it took a 19th-minute power play effort to extend the Russian lead when Artemi Panarin did the hard work behind the net and found Yevgeni Dadonov with all the time in the world out in front.

For Sergei Plotnikov, who would get his first goal of the championship later in the game, the big benefit of today's big win was seeing the team's offence firing on all cylinders at last.

"The big plus from a game like is that our different lines began to gel," he said. "And maybe people got a bit more of a feel of the game, got a sense of what we need going forwards. That all helps the team."

But Italy showed in its previous encounter that it can cause trouble when it shows sufficient self belief to attack its opponents. Early in the second period Vasilevski had an anxious moment when he lost sight of Marco Insam’s tip on a Giulio Scandella shot and was relieved to see the puck slither just past his post. Moments later, Italy got on the scoreboard. Vasilevski blocked Anton Bernard’s shot, only for Tomasso Traversa to spin onto the rebound and lift a backhand onto the top shelf. For Italy, that was the first World Championship goal against Russia since it tallied in a 1-7 drubbing in 2008. It was only the second this century. Bernard, who admitted that overall Italy's game "wasn't great", said it was "a big goal at the time".

Sadly for the neutrals, any hopes of the Italians making a game of it ended 71 seconds later with another Russian power play goal. This time it was a Lightning bolt: Tampa Bay’s Vladislav Namestnikov fed his clubmate Nikita Kucherov for a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Cloutier’s blocker got a piece of it, but not enough to keep it out and Russia had its two-goal cushion once again. And Lightning struck again in the 35th minute as Kucherov returned the favour with a delightful feed for Namestnikov to rifle home a fourth. Kucherov’s reward was a stick in the face from Diego Kostner on his next shift, and the subsequent power play saw Anton Belov ding a rasping shot against the post before Panarin slid home number five from a tight angle to maintain Russia’s 100% PP conversion rate.

"Maybe we eased up a bit at the start of the second period, but we came back strongly to take control again," Namestnikov said. "Overall, I don't think this result will make anyone complacent. The key thing is that we've won two games, now we need to get ready for Germany. We know they're a decent team, we saw them beat the USA, so we have to be fully prepared."

Russia swapped goalies during the second intermission, giving CSKA Moscow’s Ilya Sorokin his first taste of the action here in Cologne. But it was Cloutier who had the busier Sunday afternoon as the Red Machine motored to two more power play goals. First, Plotnikov stuffed the puck home from close range to make it six, then Sergei Mozyakin whipped in a seventh with a trademark PP move familiar to anyone who has followed his exploits in this season’s KHL.

With Italy in disarray, Russia’s Tampa Bay axis combined once again for Namestnikov to claim his second of the game, stretching the lead to 8-1, before Mozyakin rattled the underside of the bar. Another PP brought yet another goal, Panarin exchanging passes with Mozyakin before making it nine. Panarin had chances to complete his hat-trick, but the final word fell to Andronov. The CSKA Moscow man finished the rout he started by taking Russia into double figures with one minute left to play.

Plotnikov, asked whether Russia had aimed for another 10-goal show after its 10-0 thrashing of Denmark a year ago, merely smiled.


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