Norway skated past Italy 3-0 after goals from Niklas Roest, Morten Ask and Anders Bastiansen. Goaltender Lars Haugen stopped 15 shots to earn the shutout.
Going into the game, Norway hadn’t lost to Italy in IIHF World Championship since 1996. The streak will live on for at least another year, as Norway skated past Italy 3-0 after goals from Niklas Roest, Morten Ask and team captain Anders Bastiansen.
Goaltender Lars Haugen stopped 15 shots to earn the shutout and was named Norway’s player of the game.
"We knew this was a big game, so we were a little nervous going in," said Haugen. "But we get the first goal and plays a solid game after that. Italy's a tough team to play and they have a good goaltender."
Norway got one goal from each period of play in Saturday’s first game at the Chizhovka Arena.
"We got four lines working really hard," said Bastiansen. "That’s how we’re going to win hockey games. I think every line was really good and we had three different lines scoring goals today."
Norway scored first after six minutes in, when Niklas Roest put the pack past Daniel Bellissimo in the Italian net after a nicely executed passing play in close. Andreas Stene, making his debut, had the assist.
The goal was Roest’s first for Norway in IIHF World Championship play.
In the first, Norway had the better chances, outshooting the Italians 12-6. In the second, the Italians got video-review-close to tying the game five minutes into the middle round when Daniel Sullivan hit the crossbar a shot from in close, but the margins worked in favour of the Norwegians.
"We have higher expectations," said Italy's Brian Ihnacak. "People don’t really believe in our team and where we came from. But we’re a hard-working group, and we’ve got a lot more to offer. Hopefully our luck changes here."
On their second power play of the night, Italy established pressure in the Norwegian zone with Sullivan again getting a good chance to score from the top of the slot, but Haugen was there to make the save.
The Norwegians made it 2-0 later in the second when Morten Ask made a nifty move to get past Nathan di Casmirro and into the slot, putting a low wrist shot past Bellissimo on the glove hand side. As his shot went into the net, Daniel Sullivan hit Ask, who fell to the ice as his teammates celebrated, drawing the ire of Per-Åge Skröder who was sent to the box for roughing.
Ask returned to the game in the third period.
In the second, play evened out as the Italians had three chances with the man advantage and tried to take more advantage of more opportunities for quick counter attacks.
Early in the third, Ihnacak and Vincent Rocco raced in on a two-on-one with the man disadvantage early in the third, but Haugen easily denied Rocco’s shot. The break counted as Italy’s best chance of the third period.
Instead, it was Norway who closed out the game as Bastiansen found the back of the net after a beautiful long pass from Mathis Olimb that cut through the Italian defense to send the captain on a partial breakaway.
"Winning is more a relief than anything else," said Olimb after the game. "We knew this was a game we had to win. Now we can look ahead to next game."