"I don't that's ever been done before, and games against Switzerland are always special for us, so we'll be ready to go," said German captain Moritz Muller. "Today was a tough one. Congrats to Kazakhstan. They capitalized on their chances, and they transitioned the puck really well. We played a little sleepy against them, and it bit us. Still, we came out with three points. That's the best thing about the game."
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, is now winless in six games in Helsinki and faces a do-or-die game against Italy tomorrow with relegation on the line. They have zero points and Italy has one, so the Kazakhs will need to win to avoid going down to Division I-A for 2023.
"Our compete level was high," said Curtis Valk of Kazakhstan. "It's been getting better the last few games and when that happens you're going to get more chances. We need to shoot the puck a little more, get traffic in front. The next game is going to be big. We know what's on the line."
The win was especially sweet for goalie Dustin Strahlmeier who was making his national team debut. He struggled a little bit, but with Kazkhstan pressing to tie with six skaters, he was at his abolute best, giving up no rebounds and playing with confidence.
"He did a good job," Muller continued. "Some situations we left him alone but he played a good game. In the last couple of minutes, he covered a lot of pucks and allowed us to get a breather a few times."
The Kazakhs trailed 4-2 midway through the game and fought back to tie, only to give up the winning goal on a very unfortunate play. Kirill Savitski slid to block a shot, and it hit him in face. As he lay in pain, Yasin Ehliz beat goalie Andrei Shutov with a shot from close range at 7:08.
"We lost sight of the puck for a second when it hit our guy in the face," Valk explained. "We're worried about our teammate, and the puck goes right to their guy and ends up in the net. You can't blame the game on one play, though. We could have been better in a lot of areas. We just have to find a way to win a hockey game here."
Kazakhstan had its moments in the first period, leading 1-0 and 2-1, but each time they were in front they surrendered a quick tying goal. Captain Roman Starshenko got things started at 2:57 when he created a turnover at the Germany blue line. He skated in alone and beat Strahlmeier with a shot between the pads.
Less than two minutes later, however, goalie Andrei Shutov flubbed a point shot form Jonas Muller. The high floater eluded him and bounced off his shoulder and in.
The Germans tightened things up in the second and played more disciplined and assertive. They had an early five-on-three and capitalized on a lucky bounce. Lukas Reichel took a shot from the faceoff dot that hit the stick of Valeri Orekhov and bounced crazily past Shutov at 5:52 to make it 4-2.
They could have gone up by another goal, but Shutov stoned Marc Michaelis on a breakaway a short time later. But just when it seemed Germany would head to the dressing room after an impressive period of play, Kazakhstan caught them napping on a terrible line change. Daniyar Samat recognized the situation and fired a long pass to Starchenko at the Germany blue line, and he in turn hit Pavel Akolzin with a pass at the net. Akolzin held the puck as Strahlmeier went down and slid it into the open cage. Game on.
As so often happens, a late goal has positive effects in the next period, and Kazakhstan came out flying on the first shift and tied the game. Anton Sagadeyev wired a terrific pass from west to east, and Nikita Mikhailis went in alone and beat Strahlmeier over the glove after 38 seconds to tie the game 4-4.