BERNE – On Day One of the Qualification Round, Russia's never-say-die approach qualified it for a fourth straight victory. With his second goal of the game, Dmitri Kalinin scored the 6-5 winner versus Sweden with 56 seconds left in overtime.
"He has offensive skills and he was at the right place at the right time," said Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk of Kalinin's goal. "It was a huge goal for us. We want to win our group."
Russian goalie Ilya Bryzgalov earned his third win of the tournament as Sweden outshot Russia 38-35. Swedish goalie Johan Holmqvist left midway through the game due to injury and was replaced by Jonas Gustavsson.
The result solidified Russia's grip on top spot in Group E with eight points. Sweden sits at four points. So far, Tre Kronor has gone to extra time three times in the 2009 IIHF World Championship and lost twice.
Ilya Nikulin, Oleg Saprykin, Sergei Mozyakin, and Vitali Proshkin had Russia's other goals, and Kovalchuk had three assists. Kristian Huselius paced Sweden with a pair, and Rickard Wallin, Anton Strålman, and Niklas Persson added singles.
"The Swedes made it tough for us out there," said Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov, critical of his team's execution. "We didn't have the speed tonight, and the passing wasn't up to par. I think it shows that we had played three games without having to give our best."
Sweden opened the scoring at 2:53 on a broken play as Wallin went to the net and backhanded in a Kristian Huselius attempt that had deflected to the slot.
The Russians stormed Holmqvist's cage during a mid-period power play, and after a plethora of good scoring chances, Nikulin tied the score with a high shot through traffic at 11:56.
Russia jumped into a 2-1 lead at 11:56 when Saprykin skated into the Swedish end and unleashed a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat Holmqvist five-hole.
But the Russians got sloppy during a late-period power play, and the Swedes made them pay. Linus Omark found Strålman to the left of Bryzgalov's goal for an easy shorthanded tally with 1:45 left in the first.
Sweden came right back at 3:27 of the second period, exploiting the cross-ice pass again. Patrik Berglund dug the puck out along the right boards and fired it across to Persson, who made no mistake from the faceoff circle for a 3-2 lead. Then Mattias Weinhandl rang one off the post on a dazzling stickhandling rush.
At 7:16, Kalinin evened the score with a great slapshot that tipped off Swedish defenceman Magnus Johansson's side and over Holmqvist's glove.
Holmqvist left the game after being injured while stopping an Alexei Tereschenko shot, and Gustavsson took over between the pipes for Sweden. The intensity continued to mount. Kovalchuk got clipped in the mouth and had to go to the bench for repairs.
The teams traded chances in the third period, generating wild scrambles around each goalie's crease. Sweden finally retook the lead at 9:45 when Huselius whirled out of the corner into the faceoff circle and flung a shot through traffic that eluded Bryzgalov.
Just 22 seconds later, Russia tied it up again when Mozyakin, making his tournament debut, pivoted and lifted a fluttering shot from the top of the faceoff circle past Gustavsson's blocker side.
Proshkin's goal with 2:22 left looked like it might be the winner. The white-gloved defenceman from Salavat Yulayev Ufa first teed up a slapper from inside the blueline that left a stickless Andersson crumpled in pain. Proshkin then retrieved the puck and wristed a shot inside the post to make it 5-4.
But at 18:46, Huselius tied it back up with Gustavsson pulled for an extra attacker, banging a loose puck past Bryzgalov's goal stick. That set the stage for Kalinin's heroics.
"We played against a great team, even if they got their goals a little too easily," said Huselius. "We made some small mistakes, but I think we played a good game. It was a great team effort."
Attendance was 7,465.
Next up, Russia takes on the USA on Saturday, and Sweden plays Switzerland on Sunday.
"Russia is the toughest team you can play--they're the champions," said Wallin. "But we expect nothing less of the Swiss. That's our next game, so we'll focus on that."