In a battle between Group B’s two unbeaten teams, ROC squeeked by Denmark in another tight game. After a 1-0 win over Switzerland on Wednesday, ROC followed it up with a 2-0 win in this one, with Ivan Fedotov posting back-to-back shutouts.
“It’s nice to get the shutout but, like I said, the most important games are still to come,” Fedotov said after his 16-save clean sheet. “Right now it doesn’t matter if we win 1-0, 2-0 or 5-4, the most important thing is to win. It was a good game, not as many shots as against Switzerland, but I tried to keep myself alert. There were times when I needed to be in the game.”
After a masterful 39-save performance from Sebastian Dahm against Czechia, Denmark went in goal with 20-year-old Frederik Dichow, who had quite a game himself, stopping 31 of 32 shots.
The goalie from the Swedish second tier said of playing against a team of KHLers: “It’s definitely better. More skill, more speed, but at the end of the day it’s the same game. I just need to stop the shots, so I’m just trying to do my job the same as I always do.”
After having great success grinding down Czechia in their first game, the Danes continued that into their second game, limiting ROC to just four shots on goal through the first 19 minutes. While much of the play was in the Danish end, their players blocked a lot of shots in front of Dichow.
“We’ve won two games but I’m not happy how we’re playing offensively,” said Russian head coach Alexei Zhamnov. “We don’t control the puck, we don’t have traffic in front of the net and too much playing around the outside. That’s why we haven’t scored many goals, and in upcoming games it’s going to be tougher. Teams are going to get better and better, so we have to be ready for that and we want to make sure our forwards start working in the attacking zone. Defensively, we’ve played well but offensively, we haven’t started playing yet.”
ROC pressed with a bit more urgency late in the opening frame, getting a couple of shots through to Dichow, and then really went to work in the second, thanks to a couple of penalties to Jesper Jensen Aabo. On their second power play of the game, Anton Slepyshev – scorer of the one goal in Wednesday’s win over Switzerland – had a great chance from the left circle which Dichow kicked away. More chances came on the third and then, with the teams skating at even strength, ROC broke through.
The play started with a long shot on Dichow, with Dmitri Voronkov recovering the rebound and passing back to Slepyshev in the high slot. His one-timer was blocked, but right in front Pavel Karnaukhov had a couple whacks at the loose puck, finally putting in his own rebound past a sprawled Dichow at 28:18.
“They got a deflection on my pads, which created a rebound. I hit it with the glove and it went in,” Dichow described.
After standing still for most of the game, Fedotov was suddenly pressed into action in the 35th minute when he had to face fellow KHLer Nicklas Jensen on a breakaway, but the CSKA Moscow goalie played it perfectly, denying the Jokerit Helsinki forward any room on the forehand deke attempt.
“He’s done his job and I think he’s playing well right now,” Zhamnov said of Fedotov. “We have a goalie coach who decides who will play the next game but, right now, he’s on top of his game and I hope he continues that the whole tournament.”
ROC outshot Denmark 18-5 in the middle frame.
“I mean, we won the game, our goalie played well, which is important,” said Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko. “We’ve just gotta work on our power play a little more.”
“We started taking penalties, which makes it harder to defend,” Danish captain Peter Regin said about the second period. “Certain guys get tired and other guys don’t get ice time, so it ruins the momentum a little bit when that happens. But I thought we played well on the penalty kill.”
Early in the third period, Dichow was forced to react quickly after a long ROC shoot-in from the neutral zone bounced off the end boards to Nikita Gusev, who tried to beat the Danish goalie to the near side.
After four straight ROC power plays, Denmark got its first chance with the man advantage midway through the third period when Karnaukhov was sent off for interference, and Jensen had his second great chance to tie the score, backhanding a shot from the slot just wide of the open side. Upon returning to the bench, Jensen slammed his stick on the ground in disgust.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Jensen. “We could have tied the game up and got one, maybe even two points out of this game, but we didn’t. Obviously, I shouldn’t show emotion like that, but it’s a disappointing feeling.”
He then rationalized: “It’s good that we’re disappointed losing to Russia. I think that shows where we’re at as a hockey nation and a team, and the expectations we put on ourselves. But if before this tournament started, if you’d asked us if we’d take three points from our first two games against those two teams, we would have taken it. There’s a lot to be positive about, but right now, it’s a disappointing feeling.”
ROC got some more shots on Dichow while Jensen was in the penalty box, but the young Danish netminder handled them with little problem. But once back at full strength, Denmark had to begin pressing offensively in the last five minutes. Just inside two minutes, captain Peter Regin dropped to Frederik Storm in the slot, but he was denied by Fedotov. With Dichow out for a sixth attacker, they passed the puck around the ROC zone but got little in the way of difficult chances.
Kirill Semyonov hit the open net with 5.1 seconds left to seal it.
Said Regin: “We followed our game plan and tried to get a result. It didn’t happen today but we’ll move on and look forward to Switzerland tomorrow.”