UFA Ė Albert Yarullin's power-play goal with 10.0 seconds left in overtime gave Russia an entertaining 3-2 win over Slovakia in what was the opening game of the 2013 U20 for both teams.
Albert Yarullin's power-play goal with 10.0 seconds left in overtime gave Russia an entertaining 3-2 win over Slovakia in what was the opening game of the 2013 U20 for both teams.
The goal came on a hard slapshot and dampened Slovakia's impressive comeback from 2-0 down, tying the game in the final minute. The result also spoiled a sensational effort from goalie Adam Nagy, who held the fort while the Slovaks slowly gained confidence.
"I'm really pleased with how the team played, and every point in the standings counts in the tournament," Nagy said.
"We didn't expect this game," Mikhail Grigorenko admitted. "They played well, but it was our first game so we weren't ready for that kind of game."
Buoyed by a raucous sell-out crowd at Ufa Arena, Russia dominated the opening 20 minutes and looked to be in a position to cruie to victory.Slovakia was inferior in every aspect of the game at the start, notably speed and skill with the puck.
The Russians opened the scoring on a beautiful play deep in the Slovak end. Mikhail Grigorenko got the puck on the right side and waited for Nikita Kucherov to arrive at the net. Kucherov eluded defenceman Richard Buri and got his stick on the ice as Grigorenkoís pass came across, and Nagy had no chance in the Slovak goal.
That goal deflated the Slovaks, and they were lucky to escape the first down only a goal. They tested Andrei Vasilevki precious few times and didnít show any signs of being able to recover from the overwhelming opening period.
But overcome they did, albeit briefly. The Slovaks were by far the better team in the first half of the middle period, but they came away empty-handed for their efforts. Richard Mraz had the puck behind the Russia goal and with no passing lane open he attempted to play the puck lacrosse style. He was unable to flip the puck onto his stick blade, though, but he deserves an A for effort.
Moments later Tomas Mikus made a nice deflection in front but Vasilevski got a pad on the puck, and a little later Marko Dano blasted a shot well wide on a turnover. The inability to covert cost the Slovaks dearly.
They were guilty of a mid-ice turnover of their own, and Russia counter attacked with lightning speed. Alexander Khokhlachyov finished a nice passing play by ripping a shot past Nagy at 8:28 to make it 2-0 and deflate the Slovaks once again.
Four minutes later, Nagy robbed Kucherov on a clean break to keep the game close. The Slovaks then got on the board to make that save mean something. On a delayed penalty, the puck around Vasilevskiís crease, Matus Matis banged in a loose puck to cut the Russian lead in half at 14:12.
"I think the Russians got a little nervous," Matis suggested. "We didn't know what to expect from them at the start. But after we scored, we started to feelmore confident. If we continue to play like this, I think we can go far."
The Slovaks were again the better team in the third period and had the final three power-play opportunities. The last was the critical one as they tied the game with 36.4 seconds left, sending the game to overtime. Richard Mraz was the marksman, his weak shot eluding Vasilevski.
"We didn't think they could come back, especially after going ahead 2-0 and the way we played in the first," Grigorenko added. "Their goalie was really good today. We had some amazing chances and couldn't score."
The Slovaks also had a power play to start the OT but couldn't capitalize, and then the Russians got a 4-on-3 chance with only 15 seconds left. But the Russians called a timeout, and with the faceoff in the Slovak end they made the most of the chance, winning the draw and getting the puck to Yarullin for his wicked slapshot winner.