Twenty minutes into the 2016 IIHF World Championships’ Thursday quarterfinal slate, Russia found itself in a bind.
Despite outshooting their German opponents 13-6–and otherwise controlling the flow of play–they found themselves trailing by one heading into the first intermission.
Patrick Reimer’s unassisted tally gave the Germans hope. It also sparked the home team to life.
Propelled by the tandem of Vadim Shipachyov and Evgeni Dadonov, Russia erupted in the second period, posting three goals en route to a 4-1 decision.
Two of the tournament’s top-scoring forwards, Shipachyov and Dadonov catalyzed the Russian attack–along with linemate Artemi Panarin, the trio has combined to score 15 of Russia’s 36 total goals scored.
Thursday’s tilt told a similar tale: A mere 40 seconds into the frame, Dadonov latched onto a bouncing puck in front of German netminder Thomas Greiss, who made the initial leg save. Pouncing on his own rebound, the SKA St. Petersburg skater took advantage of the netminder’s aggression, baiting him out of his crease before sliding the puck over to club teammate Shipachyov. Staring into a yawning cage, the competition’s leading scorer didn’t miss his mark, snapping in his fifth of the tournament and knotting things up at one.
Minutes later, Dadonov and Shipachyov would connect once more. Cutting a swath into the slot, Dadonov redirected Shipachyov’s centering feed on net, celebrating as his effort weasled its way past the New York Islanders’ goaltender.
Shipachyov would conclude the second-period Russian onslaught with a personal brace, converting a two-on-one opportunity. Ivan Telegin drew the assist on the pitch-and-catch passing play.
In total, Russia peppered Greiss with 16 shots in the frame. And, while things rapidly got out-of-hand for the Germans, their goaltender was the only thing preventing the contest from turning into a full-on rout.
With a two-goal lead safely in tow, the Russians swapped to a more defensive strategy, halving their shot total from the previous period. It paid off–the defensive corps contained the Germans, only allowing five shots against the solid Sergei Bobrovsky.
However, Russia would tack on an extra goal for good measure. Washington Capitals’ teammates Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov came together to post Ovi’s first goal in four games. CSKA Moscow winger Roman Lyubimov recorded the secondary assist.
Bagging the win, Russia secured its passage to the semifinal round. Awaiting the team is its stiffest opponent to date–Finland.
Fresh off of a 5-1 demolition of Denmark, the plucky Finns went undefeated in group play, winning all seven games they played by a combined margin of 29-6. 6’7″ goaltender Mikko Koskinen backstops the tournament’s premier defensive unit in terms of goals against, while forwards Patrik Laine, Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov spearhead an attack that ranks second and third in scoring efficiency and power play percentage, respectively.
Russia’s tournament hopes will be put to the test on Saturday, May 21, at the Moscow Ice Palace.