The win means Russia will play Slovakia in Vancouver on Wednesday in one quarter-final, and Canada will play the loser of United States-Finland being played tonight in Victoria.
Emotions ran high tonight, and why wouldn’t they? A New Year’s Eve tilt between the greatest of rivals, Canada and Russia, first place in the group on the line. And, of course, Russia seems to play its best hockey in Canada.
"When the whole arena is against you, booing you, we hear it all, so it brings the team together. We play like a family. That's why we play our best here," explained Grigori Denisenko.
The teams delivered a blockbuster. What it lacked in goals on the scoreboard it more than made up for in animosity, electric atmosphere, hits, theatrics, and great plays. The packed house of 17,556 loved every minute of it.
Just a typical Canada-Russia game!
"It was a very tough game, especially mentally because you have to make decisions faster," Denisenko said. "We were prepared for them. They are a fast and physical team, but our goalie played well and gave us confidence."
"It was a pretty good game, but we have to get the lapses out of our play," Canada's Owen Tippett said. "We have to play a full 60 minutes. We knew adversity was going to come at some time, so we're happy it's now. We're going to re-charge and get ready for the playoffs."
"We were flat in the first period," agreed Cody Glass, Canada's goalscorer. "They really took it to us. We got better, but in a tournament like this you can't take a period off. We've learned from our mistakes."
As for coming out flat, when there are over 17,000 srceaming fans cheering you on, Glass suggested that, "maybe some guys haven't been in this kind of atmosphere before and maybe the nerves got to them. But we're here together. We're here to win the gold medal as a team."
"We were hard on the forecheck and Tipper gave me a little pass. I just tried to get it off my stick as quickly as I could, and it went in, Glass described."
The period changed three minutes later when Morgan Frost took a penalty for a hit from behind, resulting in a minor and misconduct. The Russians converted on the power play, Vitali Kravtsov making a nice pass from the top of one circle to Denisenko in the other. Denisemko drilled a one-timer past Michael DiPietro.
The Russians dominated the rest of the period. They skated and passed with confidence and moved freely around the ice. The Canadians were hesitant and overly cautious, lacking confidence moving up ice. They were lucky the period ended in a 1-1 tie.
Canada came out in the middle period with more purpose than in the first, but Russia matched them, creating an up-and-down game that turned physical and then a little nasty. Players chirped and embellished, hit hard and with purpose, and gave the fans plenty to cheer and boo about.
Kochetkov made the save of the game when Tippett made a great backhand pass to captain Maxime Comtois speeding towards the net. Comtois redirected the puck perfectly, but the big goalie got his left pad over to the far post blinkety blink to make the save.
"We didn't have the start we wanted, so we wanted to start the second with a different mentality and show what we can do – use our speed and get pucks to the net," Tippett said.
Canada, however, couldn't get another puck past Kochetkov, setting the stage for Shen's great goal midway through the final period. With DiPietro on the bench, Canada made a final push, to no avail.