The Russian national team’s final match of the EHT Karjala Cup took place today against the Czech Republic. Anton Burdasov and Ilya Kablukov were welcomed back into the side by head coach Oleg Znarok, while all other SKA faces also took part. Ilya Sorokin was reinstated into Russia’s net, with the KHL’s Jakub Kovar his opposite number.
Russia were full of confidence following the 6:3 triumph over Sweden yesterday, and they set their stall out early. The Czechs were struggling to get set up in Russia’s zone, and they had a lot of defending to do. They didn’t help their cause by taking plenty of penalties, and Russia had a number of chances to take the lead. Nikita Gusev couldn’t net one on one, Evgeny Dadonov misfired alone on the doorstep, and Vadim Shipachyov failed to take advantage of a number of close range chances. The Russians spent almost half of the period on the powerplay, but despite that they couldn’t find a killer touch around the goal.
Things promised to liven up in the second frame, and immediately the deadlock was broken. Despite having been on the back foot for the most part the Czechs spread the puck to the right faceoff circle, and Tomas Zohorna whipped a vicious wrister above Ilya Sorokin’s glove. That set the Russians back a bit, and it took them a few minutes to get back on their game. Nevertheless they were still dangerous going forward, and equalised within five minutes. Sergei Shirokov sneaked in alone on the right flank, and squeezed the puck between the goaltender’s legs. It could have been a second for Russia minutes later, but Evgeny Dadonov couldn’t connect off a Sergei Mozyakin on the right post. The Czechs went on to have the best chances after that miss, and Ilya Sorokin had a few tough saves to make. The best came against a Czech forward one on one, as the Russian goaltender shut the five hole in time.
It was anyone’s game heading into the third period, and the Czech Republic had an ideal chance to score early on. The puck was neatly sent to the far post, however glove side Ilya Sorokin got his body on to a tricky effort. Russia picked up following that episode, and eventually took their first lead of the game. Alexei Tsvetkov found the open Mikhail Grigoryev on the left wing, and the latter clinically wristed under Jakub Kovar’s glove. That was only the start of the action though, and the Czechs mounted a dramatic comeback. First of all Milan Doudera finished off a flowing play to the right of the crease, and then Milan Gulas backhanded into the left corner when one on one. Russia were on the back foot with time running down, but on the powerplay they managed to save the match. Vadim Shipachyov twisted to the crease, and Viktor Antipin tipped his pass home to send us into overtime.
Neither team could create any real chances during the extra five minutes, as everyone seemed to be waiting for penalty shots. To the shootout it went, and despite Vadim Shipachyov’s marker the Czechs took it 2:1. 3:4 today, and Russia take four points away from the Karjala Cup.
Russia – Czech Republic – 3:4 SO (0:0, 1:1, 2:2 – 0:1 )
0:1 Zohorna (Sobotka, Radil), 20.26
1:1 Shirokov (Mozyakin), 24.51
2:1 Grigoryev (Tsvetkov, Shirokov), 44.07
2:2 Doudera (Kovar), 49.41
2:3 Gulas (Kubalik, Doudera), 51.47
3:3 Antipin (Shipachyov, Dadonov), 55.41
3:4 Kovar, 65.00
Goalkeepers: Sorokin – Kovar
08.11.2015. Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland.