COLOGNE Ė Russia rolled over Finland, 5-0, getting goals by five different players and a shutout by Semyon Varlamov. Ilya Kovalchuk got two assists and Maxim Afinogenov a goal and an assist.
"With the new rules it is all about special teams and I think our penalty killing was great and the power play worked tonight. It is important for the quarterfinal," Kovalchuk said.
The last time Russia left a World Championship rink as a loser was in Moscow in 2007 when they lost to the Finns 2-1 in overtime. Since then, the team has raked in 24 wins. Before their game against Finland. Now the win count is 25.
Finland started the game strong, they came out of the gate like they meant business. And they did. Finland pressured the Russian defencemen, and created several good scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Finns, when it was time to put the puck to the back of the net, they hit the post instead. Four times.
"They played very well in the beginning," Kovalchuk admitted.
Russia got into some penalty trouble halfway through the period, with Alexei Emelin and Dmitri Kulikov taking penalties within a minute from each other. But the Russian defence, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov kept the Finns off the scoreboard.
Then it was Finland who ran into penalty trouble. The Russian powerplay showed why it needs to be feared. Finlandís defenceman Topi Jaakola injured itself, turning the situation into a 5-on-3 play. Alexander Ovechkinís onetimer failed but the puck found its way to Alexander Semin who took a onetimer. That failed but found its way to Sergei Fedorov, who was waiting for it at Petri Vehanenís doorstep, and tapped the puck in at 16:42.
"We are pretty good. We have almost all the guys who played in the Olympics and we have a great atmosphere in the room," Kovalchuk said.
In the second period, Finland lost players when defencemen Juuso Hietanen and Pasi Puistola were injured and Jussi Jokinen received 2+10 minute penalty for a hit to the head, forcing coach Jukka Jalonen to shuffle his lines and - having already decided to rest defencemen Lasse Kukkonen and Petteri Nummelin - move team captain Sami Kapanen down to defence.
"I wasn't trying to hurt him, but I play in front of the on our power play, and have to make sure I make some room for our guys," Kovalchuk said about the situation where Hietanen was injured.
Maybe thatís why Finland also ran into major penalty trouble in the second period, taking six minors, and Jussi Jokinenís ten-minute penalty for hitting to the head.
"Kapanen was excellent tonight. We hag five defencemen for half the game, and he was our top-two defenceman," coach Jalonen said.
Given multiple chances, Russia finally scored at 13:52 when Ilya Kovalchuk got the puck in the slot, and waited until a Finnish defenceman hit the ice to block a shot, then stepped around him and fed the puck to Evgeni Malkin, who shot the puck through Vehanenís five-hole to make it 2-0.
Right after the faceoff Maxim Afinogenov got the puck deep into the Finnish zone, and took the shot that Vehanen was able to stop with his leg pad. The rebound escaped from Finnish defence but not from Nikolai Kulemin who gave Russia three-goal lead at 14:02.
"We started well, but didn't stick to our system tonight, and didn't have the speed we need in our game," said Kapanen.
Russia put the game to bed, for good, early in the third. First, Kovalchuk sent a pass from the hash marks to the point and Emelin onetimed it high on Vehanenís stickside to make it 4-0 at 2:15 into the third.
But, Russia wasnít done yet. A mere 40 seconds after the fourth goal Afinogenov grabbed a loose puck on the Finnish blueline, took a step into the slot, and banged the puck past Vehanen for the fifth time in the game.
Russia wins Group E and meets Canada in the quarterfinal. In the other Olympic quarterfinal rematch, Finland will take on the Czech Republic.