BERNE – Sunday night was not the goalies’ dream night, that’s for sure. Russian offensive weapons stole the spotlight as the reigning world champions pounded France 7-2.
It probably wasn’t the greatest of nights to be a goalie at either end of the rink. For France’s Eddy Ferhi, it was an uphill battle from the get-go, and his colleague, Alexander Eremenko, faced 22 shots in the game, and just nine in the first 30 minutes.
It took Russia just 1:23 to take the 1-0 lead. Alexander Radulov got the puck in the neutral zone and carried it over the offensive blueline. He got close to the French defenceman who had lost his stick a few second earlier, used him as a screen, then sidestepped him and sent a wrist shot behind Ferhi, beating him on the stick side.
And then Russia went boom, boom, boom.
At 7:06, Konstantin Gorovikov fed Danis Zaripov with a nice pass inside the French penalty killing box. Zaripov onetimed it next to the left post.
Just 14 seconds later, Sergei Zinoviev set up office behind the French net. His saucer found Radulov, who sent the puck upstairs while on his knees.
Fast forward 41 seconds: Ferhi thought he had the puck between his legs, covered when Alexander Perezhogin followed his own rush and poked the puck into the net with his stick.
"We had a pretty tough start, it was going too fast for us. Still, we tried to enjoy the game, because we hadn’t played against Russia since 2000," defenceman Baptiste Amar said.
Kevin Hecquefeuille put the French on the scoreboard at 10:25, but with five minutes remaining in the period, Alexei Tereschenko extended Russia’s lead to four goals again.
"France has a pretty good team, but they're still not quite at the top level. For us, the game was good preparation for the next game. France is going to be a good team in a few years," Denis Grebeshkov said.
"I guess this is a part of every tournament, but at the same time, you have to keep in mind that there are tougher games ahead of us," he added.
Tereschenko also was the lone Russian scorer in the second period which ended in a 1-1 tie after Luc Tardif’s slapshot got deflected through Eremenko’s five-hole when the puck hit a Russian defenceman on its way to the back of the net.
Third period was a chain of nice individual showings of skill by the Russians.
With 10:40 remaining, Ilya Kovalchuk carried the puck into the French zone, but the French defence managed to stickpoke it from him. It landed on Perezhogin's stick, he sent the puck back to Kovalchuk who onetimed it past Ferhi.
On Tuesday, France meets Germany, and the winner of the game will go on to play in the Qualification Round, the loser has to play a relegation round for a spot in the top division.
"It’s going to be a very different game against Germany. We need to play as a team, and work together, try to hang on there, and play a defensively good game," Amar said.
Russia takes on Switzerland in its next game.
"Switzerland plays hard, they have skilled players and a good goalie, so I think it’ll be a fun game to watch," Grebeshkov said.