Viktor victorious for Russia

Power-play goals are the difference

15.05.2014
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Minsk Arena Minsk  Belarus

Russia's Sergei Shirokov (#52) skates with the puck while Kazakhstan's Roman Starchenko (#48) defends. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Viktor Tikhonov continued his sublime play in Russia's 7-2 win over Kazakhstan.

After a day off Russia returned to its winning ways, defeating Kazakhstan 7-2. Viktor Tikhonov continued his high-flying exploits with a goal and four points on the night.

Sergei Plotnikov scored two goals that allowed the Russian machine to stay undefeated at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Coming into tonight’s game, the dynamic duo of Alexander Ovechkin and Tikhonov has scored 6 of Russia’s 15 goals and assisted on another five. They have accounted for 73% of Russia’s offence.

From top to bottom in the lineup, Russia has looked formidable and appears to be clear contenders to advance in this tournament. The offence sparkles every night they play. Goaltending is strong.

If there are two areas for concern it is the defence, made thinner with the loss of Dmitri Orlov to a broken arm, and the power play.

After their first three games, Russia scored twice on 14 power-play attempts, placing them twelfth among tournament leaders.

Well that was not the case against Kazakhstan. With three power-play goals over the first two periods, Russia improved what is usually an important part of their success.

In the first period, Kazakhstan held managed to stay briefly on par before Russia began to surge.

Seven minutes into the period Danis Zaripov and Alexander Burmistrov had quality chances. Anton Belov’s sent a pass in front of the net to Burmistrov but Kazakh goaltender Alexei Ivanov was there to meet the challenge.

Making his first start of the tournament, Ivanov made 15 saves over the first twenty minutes of play.

A high sticking penalty on Andrei Spiridnov allowed Sergei Plotnikov to capitalize on the man advantage with a goal. The goal, coming at 14:24, was Plotnikov’s third of the tournament. Ovechkin and Tikhonov got assists.

Still, the Russians were not yet at uptempo.

"We weren't very pleased with our first period," said head coach Oleg Znarok. "We were trying too hard to make beautiful plays and we needed to score more goals. At the intermission we talked about the need to make sure we got the result. After that everything went smoothly."

Three goals in the second period, including two on the power play put the game out of reach.

With Dmitri Upper in penalty box, Danis Zaripov made a nifty move to gain the zone and delivered a pass to Yegor Yakovlev for the score.

Zaripov scored Russia’s third power play goal on the evening at 3:26. Plotnikov and Tikhonov recorded assists. Zaripov had a goal and two assists on the evening.

Nikolai Kulyomin and Tikhonov added goals to make it 5-0. Tikhonov’s play in the tournament and chemistry with Ovechkin has made him every bit as dangerous as his peers on the team.

Kazakhstan finally found the net when Mikhail Panshin tipped a Kevin Dallman shot in at 9:31 and again at 13:33 as Andrei Spiridnov scored, beating Sergei Bobrovski who returned in goal for the Russians.

Plotnikov scored his second of the contest with 43 seconds left in the game. Not to be outdone, Burmistrov closed scoring with six seconds remaining, giving Russia the win and its throng of fans something to cheer about.

JOHN SANFUL

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