STOCKHOLM – Russia kept its undefeated record intact as they defeated Germany 2-0 to stay atop the Stockholm group at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
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Nikolai Zherdev’s goal late in the first period was all the Russians would need as Semyon Varlamov proved impenetrable, earning his first shutout.
"We tried very hard to find a way to the net," said German head coach Jakob Kölliker. "Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to put goals in the Russian net."
With the loss, Germany drops its second straight game after defeating Italy in the opening game of the tournament.
The game was closely contested throughout, thanks to defence and goaltending from both sides. Germany was able to limit Yevgeni Malkin for most of the contest.
Malkin leads his team in scoring and second overall in the tournament. Malkin led the NHL in scoring this past season with 109 points in 75 games.
Russia threatened to get on the board first when Yevgeni Kuznetsov rang a shot off the post with just less than two minutes remaining in the first period. So convinced was Kuznetsov that he raised his hands in the air to celebrate what he thought was a goal.
On their next try shortly thereafter, Russia would finally convert.
With nine seconds remaining Nikolai Zherdev scored as he tipped in a shot from Yevgeni Medvedev. As time was winding down, Malkin drove to the net and took a shot that went wide and caromed off the boards to the point. It was there that Medvedev took control of the puck and sent a slapshot that was redirected by Zherdev.
Malkin would also register an assist, scoring in his third straight game.
"In the last minute of the first period, we can’t get scored on," said John Tripp. "That’s like one of the major rules in ice hockey. We had a turnover in the middle, and Russia’s one team you don’t want to do that against."
Germany would get their share of chances in the period, outshooting the Russians 13-8 but Semyon Varlamov was able to prevail. Christoph Schubert took three of those shots.
In the second both teams once again traded chances but there was no scoring in the period. This set up a third period where either Russia would add to their lead or Germany would equalize the contest.
Dimitri Kotschnew made his first start for Germany in the tournament and was solid in goal. Kotschnew made several key stops, including 17 of 18 shots through two periods that prevented the Russian national team from extending its lead.
With 48 seconds remaining on a slashing penalty to Germany’s Justin Krueger, Alexei Tereshenko scored in front off a feed from Sergei Shirokov to add an insurance goal. Zherdev registered his second point of the game with an assist on the goal.
"In the end, we got the win," said Dmitri Kalinin. "Germany played hard and came after us, got some forechecking going. But we scored first and got that power play goal at the end."
After the game speculation on whether Alexander Radulov would be joining the team was addressed at the post game press conference.
Bilyaletdinov said he had placed a phone call to star forward Radulov, a two-time World Champion (2008, 2009), and would make another one now that Radulov’s NHL club, Nashville, has been eliminated from the playoffs. He also said he was open to the possibility of adding another defender.
Additional reporting by LUCAS AYKROYD