In the fifth match of the 2019 IIHF World Championship, Russia proved too strong for Latvia, claiming a tense 3:1 victory in a physical encounter.
Oskars Cibulskis opened the scoring for Latvia in the first period with a heavy slap shot on the powerplay from the right wing. Nevertheless, Russia immediately got on level terms in the second, as Dmitry Orlov hit the target from distance within 27 seconds of the restart.
Minutes later, former SKA Saint Petersburg forward Nikita Gusev pounced on the loose puck at point blank range when on the man advantage to give the Russians their maiden lead, before Nikita Kucherov increased the advantage to 3:1.
In the third period, Latvia threw everything they had at Russia, but the team held on to emerge victorious 3:1. Goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 26 of 27 opposing shots.
Russia will next take to the ice on Sunday against Switzerland. Puck drop is scheduled for 21.15 Moscow time.
Latvia - Russia - 1:3 (1:0, 0:3, 0:0)
1:0 Cibulskis (Indrasis), 10.28
1:1 Orlov (Kovalchuk, Plotnikov), 20.27
1:2 Gusev (Dadonov, Kucherov), 23.50
1:3 Kucherov (Anisimov), 32.40
Goalkeepers: Merzlikins/Gudlevskis - Vasilevskiy
Shots on target: 27 - 33
Faceoffs: 27 - 32
Penalty minutes: 12 - 18