After two strange goals in the first period, things quickly reverted to normal as Russia defeated Switzerland in a 7-1 romp on Saturday at Malmö Arena.
Alexander Barabanov and Damir Zhafyarov paced the attack with a goal and an assist apiece, and Ivan Barbashyov, Andrei Mironov, Bogdan Yakimov, Vyacheslav Osnovin, and Mikhail Grigorenko also scored for Russia.
"We’re feeling pretty good right now," said Barbashyov. "We’ve played really well the last two games against Norway and Switzerland. But I’m pretty sure we can play much better in the defensive zone."
Jason Fuchs replied for Switzerland.
After splitting time with Ivan Nalimov in the opening 11-0 win over Norway, goalie Andrei Vasilevski, playing his third World Juniors, went the distance for Russia. Swiss backup Sascha Rochow got his first tournament start. Russia outshot Switzerland 34-26.
Eduard Giamatov drew the first Swiss penalty after a spectacular solo dash through the defence. The Russians held a big territorial advantage in the first period, controlling the puck at will.
Despite Russia’s dominance, the Swiss got on the board first with just under five minutes left in the opening stanza. Fuchs tried to center the puck from behind the goal line, and Osnovin inadvertently tipped the puck past his own netminder.
"They scored the one goal, and we’re pretty sad about that. We didn’t like that," said Barbashyov with a smile.
The Russians tied it up at 16:27 on another weird goal. Barbashyov dipsy-doodled his way to the net and the puck flew up in the air, bouncing off Rochow’s back into the goal.
At 17:31, the Russians took their first lead on the power play. They moved the puck quickly around the Swiss box, and Mironov’s long shot fooled Rochow through traffic.
"Our start was not bad," said Switzerland's Phil Baltisberger. "If we went into the first intermission with a lead the game would maybe have continued differently. Unfortunately we conceded two stupid goals in the last three minutes that were game-changers."
In the final minute of the period, Swiss blueliner Mirco Müller was injured in his own end. It appeared that Nikolai Skladnichenko threw an elbow at Müller’s face, but no penalty was called on the play. Müller stayed in the game.
With Switzerland’s Lukas Balmelli off for checking to the head, Russia seized a 3-1 lead when Bogdan Yakimov cruised into the Swiss zone and zinged a wicked wrist shot through Rochow’s legs at 6:23 of the second period.
Just over five minutes later, Barabanov stretched Russia’s lead to 4-1 when the puck bounced off a Swiss defender’s skate right to him in the slot, and he made no mistake.
It only took another 34 seconds for Barabanov to set up Zhafyarov on a 2-on-1 rush for a nice backhand deke goal that put the game out of reach for Switzerland.
At 8:17 of the third period, Osnovin atoned for his earlier own-goal gaffe by making it 6-1 on a lovely end-to-end rush.
For Russia's seventh goal, Grigorenko coolly tallied inside Rochow's right post with a two-man advantage at 9:52.
Russia’s all-time World Junior record against Switzerland improved to 19 wins, two losses, and two ties. The last time Switzerland beat Russia was in the 2010 quarter-finals, when Nino Niederreiter’s heroics produced a 3-2 overtime upset.
Russia faces Finland on Monday, while Switzerland takes on Norway the same day in a matchup that'll likely determine which nation ends up in the Relegation Round.
Defenceman Nikita Zadorov said of the upcoming game against Finland: "It’s a pretty good team with a lot of small forwards who are really quick. I’ve played against them the last five years. I think we know [how to approach it]."
"The next game will be our most important of the tournament," said Baltisberger. "We have to beat Norway. The game is our ticket to the quarter-finals."
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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