In Cologne, the senior Russian national team began their 2017 IIHF World Championship campaign with a match against Sweden. Head coach Oleg Znarok included SKA's Artyom Zub, Anton Belov, Sergei Plotnikov, Nikita Gusev, Evgeny Dadonov and Alexander Barabanov in the line-up.
Feeling the pressure, both teams made a cautious start. Neither set of players was willing to take any risks, with the goalkeepers seeing little action early on. However, as time rolled on, chances began to appear. Nikita Kucherov had the best for Russia, but he failed to beat Viktor Fasth alone on the right faceoff circle. Unfortunately, with five minutes remaining in the period, Sweden struck first blood. Elias Lindholm was the scorer, lashing a fierce wrister under Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Buoyed by that goal, Sweden continued playing with the initiative in the second stanza. Andrei Vasilevskiy was alert in net, keeping the Swedes out with some alert stops. At the other end, Russia did carve out some opportunities, as Artemiy Panarin's line threatened. The Chicago Blackhawks man should have equalised when speeding down the right wing, but he could only shoot into the glove.
Russia emerged a different team for the third. Our players upped the intensity, crashing Sweden's net with force. Those tactics resulted in a game tying goal four minutes in. SKA forward Alexander Barabanov sent a clever pass back to the doorstep, where Sergei Andronov was waiting to pounce - 1:1. On the front foot, our players had plenty of chances to score more, being denied by Viktor Fasth on many occasions.
3 on 3 overtime couldn't be avoided. Nikita Kucherov missed a glorious chance when clean through, before Victor Hedman and Carl Soderberg were shut down by huge Andrei Vasilevskiy stops.
Nevertheless, Russia's stars came good in the shootout. Artemiy Panarin was the only player to score, sealing a dramatic 2:1 Russian victory against Sweden at the World Championship!
Sweden - Russia - 1:2 SO (1:0, 0:0, 0:1, 0:0 - 0:1)
1:0 Lindholm (Rask, Hedman), 14.40
1:1 Andronov (Barabanov, Panarin), 43.58
1:2 Panarin, 65.00
Goalkeepers: Fasth - Vasilevskiy
Shots on target: 23 - 30
Penalty minutes: 4 - 2
05.05.2017. Cologne, Germany.