Questing for their first Women’s Worlds medal since 2016’s bronze in Kamloops, the Russians edged Switzerland 2-1 on Olga Sosina's late goal with a two-player advantage.
Sosina, an assistant captain, fired a quick shot from the slot that found the twine with just 37 seconds left.
Of her winner, Sosina said: "Nothing special. I see all the Swiss players were not near me. I shot and it was good!"
Despite the defeat, Swiss goalie Janine Alder shone with 41 saves in just her second career IIHF game with the senior national team. Alder, 23, recorded a 19-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the unified Korean team at last year's PyeongChang Olympics.
"I just put my heart on the ice every single time I go out there," said Alder. "I guess I'm just trying to enjoy every single minute I get here. This is the sport I love to play."
For Russia, Nadezhda Morozova had 10 saves for the opening win.
Anna Timofeyeva also scored for Russia. Evelina Raselli had the lone goal for Switzerland.
The Russians get little respite with a Saturday afternoon showdown with host Finland up next. The Swiss face a daunting challenge versus the defending champion U.S. on Sunday.
"Every team in this tournament is going to be a hard opponent," Alder said. "It's not just going to be the big nations. We need to be prepared for every single nation. We can't count anyone out. We'll get our rest now. We'll learn and look at video with those experiences we've had so far. Everyone is here to learn. We go day by day."
Led by Sosina, the human shots machine who shone in the Russian playoffs with Agidel Ufa, the Russians went after Switzerland hard in the first period. Yet poor discipline early on hampered coach Alexei Chistyakov’s team, which took four first-period minors.
Limited to six shots on goal in their opening 6-0 loss to Canada, the Swiss got a grand opportunity with a two-player advantage. It took Raselli just 12 seconds to hit pay dirt, as she banged in 2018 Olympic scoring leader Alina Muller’s centering pass at 13:41.
The Swiss got sloppy themselves with two late-period minors, and Sosina sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Timofeyeva, whose one-timer from the bottom of the right faceoff circle beat Alder with just six seconds left in the frame. Pure PP goodness.
That equalizer felt like a momentum-changer. The Russians subsequently outshot Switzerland by a whopping 19-4 margin in the second period, but couldn't put one past Alder, even with a late-period power play when veteran Lisa Ruedi went off for hooking.
Sosina commented on Alder's stellar play: "Good goalie. Of course, the last Swiss goalie [Florence Schelling] was the MVP in Sochi. But this goalie is very good too."
Penalties followed penalties in the third period, yet no one could bulge the twine. That is, until Sosina came through. The result dropped Switzerland's all-time Women's Worlds record against Russia to two wins, one tie, and four losses.
"We have to take less penalties," Sosina added. "We made a lot of moments, but we need to score goals."
Both teams were missing key offensive forwards.
Anna Shokhina, who led Russia in scoring at last year’s Olympics, served the first game of a two-game suspension for a kicking infraction at the end of the 3-2 bronze medal loss to Finland.
Switzerland’s Lara Stalder sat out her second straight game due to injury. The 24-year-old Linkoping HC star has 23 career Women’s Worlds points and eight Olympic points, and her offensive contributions are missed.