The first think one might notice about the game is that the crowd is really into it. The second thing one might notice is that these are probably the two best teams and the probable gold-medal matchup. The third thing one might notice is that, who needs the NHL? This was a great game, especially the first period, that would satisfy any hockey fan’s hunger for fast-paced hockey.
Both teams were flying, clearly amped for the game between the two superstars of this tournament. In the first eight minutes or so, there was hardly any neutral zone play, hardly any whistles, and there were good chances on each side; you really didn’t have a chance to catch your breath after a scramble or just-missed pass before the next intense moment.
Stupid penalties have hurt the Russians before, and Valeri Nichushkin showed a lack of intelligence by hitting Tyler Wotherspoon of Canada clearly from behind into the boards (haven’t they seen the constant NHL Network commercials telling you to NEVER hit from behind?). He was given five and a game, which is debatable, but it’s still on Nichushkin to not hit from behind. No excuse.
Canada’s Dougie Hammilton scored two minutes into the powerplay on a ridiculous shot from the blue line that was perfectly placed right above the sliding defender and into the top corner of the net, and they almost scored again right after the goal. They did score again, though, a little more than a minute later. Note to everyone: the cost of hitting from behind is two goals (and often a suspension).
Right after penalty time expired, the puck bounced up in the air and Makarov stood up to bat the puck away; Brett Ritchie, of Canada, swung at the puck a missed, hitting Andrei Makarov in the neck, but he was alright – no penalty, though. But the hockey gods delivered swift justice on the next shift as Nikita Kucherov scored from the slot immediately after a Canada turnover.
Kirill Kapustin made a great defensive play to prevent Canada from scoring on a wide-open net early in the second, and Russia was awarded its first powerplay on a hit from behind, which was, appropriately, only two minutes. But they failed to score, and Canada scored shortly after.
Other than a cross-ice one timer on which Malcolm Subban made a tremendous save, Russia did not have many quality chances. Period 2 belonged to Canada.
Not much going on in period 3 (other than two Canadians drilling each other), and Canada ended up putting in the empty netter to secure the win. The real difference in the game was the two goals that Canada scored on the five-minute major in the first, and even though Canada had the better of the play for most of the game, Russia could have won, or at least grabbed a point, had Nichushkin not taken that horribly stupid penalty. Canada earns a first-round bye with the win, and Russia also gets the bye, drawing a game against dreaded team Switzerland in the quarterfinals. That game will be this Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. EST (take note: NOT 9 a.m. like all Russia’s games have been so far).