UFA – All the big stars came out tonight for Russia at a noisy and packed Ufa Arena where the home side took it to the Germans to the tune of 7-0.
Yaroslav Kosov scored a third-period hat trick and four teammates had two points. Andrei Vasilevski was perfect in goal, stopping all 41 shots he faced.
The Germans were unable to match the speed and skill of the Russians, but after a horrible first period they played some solid, if unspectacular hockey the rest of the way. But for a lack of scoring touch, they might have had a couple of goals at least.
Having played three games in four days, the Russians now enjoy a day off before their climactic New Year’s Eve battle against Canada, a game that might well decide first place in Group B (depending on the Canada-United States result tomorrow). The Germans, now 0-3, will have to beat Slovakia tomorrow if they are to avoid the Relegation Round.
"I think we have more skill on our team, which is why we were able to score seven goals and didn't allow any," Danil Zharkov suggested. "Now we have a day off to prepare for our next game."
The Canada-Russia game promises to be another classic, and the Russians will have had a day off after this easy game to get ready. "It's always good to have that day off because we're going to have to play hard against Canada," Zharkov added. "It's, of course, going to be a very physical game, and both teams have good goaltenders. I'm really looking forward to it."
The Russians made sure to skate out to a first-period lead and leave no hope on the German bench of an upset. Mikhail Grigorenko got the ball rolling in the second minute, taking advantage of a turnover in centre ice and going in on a 2-on-1 with Nikita Kucherov. Grigrorenko’s saucer pass was perfect, and Kucherov finished the play easily at 1:18.
Russia made it 2-0 on another quick and skilled play off the rush. Nail Yakupov skated in over the German blue line, dropped the puck neatly to Alexander Khokhlachyov and headed to the net. Goalie Marvin Cupper made a nice save off Khokhlachyov’s shot, but Yakupov buried the rebound before Cupper knew what was going on.
Three minutes later, the Russians put the game out of reach when Yakupov patiently took the puck down the right side. He fired a perfect pass to Danil Zharkov, who eluded defenceman Stephan Kronthaler in front, and Zharkov, like Kucherov, had only to redirect the puck in the open side.
The Germans got their first great scoring chance midway through the second when Dominik Kahun was left alone in the high slot. He got everything of a snap shot, but Vasilevski was right there with a great glove save.
Germany played some decent hockey in the period, though, a proud team that had been humbled in the opening 20 minutes. Cupper made several fine saves and Tobias Rieder later had two good chances, but, inevitably, the next goal came off a Russian stick.
Albert Yarullin’s power play point shot snuck through traffic in front and eluded Cupper at 13:57 to make it a 4-0 game.
Kosov made it 5-0 early in the third off another turnover at the blue line. His long shot fooled Cupper, the first questionable goal of the evening for the German goalie.
Kosov scored again at 13:33 after Cupper had made two sensational saves, only to lose sight of the second and push it back between his pads and over the goal line. Kosov finished his hat trick with a short-handed goal late in the game.
The Germans have now scored only three goals in as many games while conceding 24. If they are to beat Slovakia, they'll have to do better at both ends of the ice. "We got more shots on goal tonight," said captain Stephan Kronthaler, "but we have to work harder, find ways to beat the goalie. It's not easy; we know that. We have to go hard to the net."