COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 5: Russia's Andrei Vasilevski #88 follows the play while Ivan Provorov #29 battles with Sweden's Marcus Kruger #16 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Panarin SO goal caps exciting afternoon tilt
Three periods of exciting hockey, an overtime and shootout opened the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship afternoon game between Sweden and Russia.
Russia and Sweden met this afternoon in the first game of the 2017 World Championships in Germany. Artemi Panarin’s shootout goal at ended an entertaining contest played before a sold out crowd of 18,537 at LANXESS arena in Cologne.
Sweden limited a Russian team known for offensive theatrics and high powered scoring to a goal in regulation time. Last year, Russia scored 44 goals at the World Championships, second only to gold medal winning Team Canada. But as the game wore on, Russia kept pressing and finally found its stride.
"It was going to a tough game but a great game." Swedish head coach Rikard Gronborg said in the postgame press conference. "We started first 15-16 minutes excellent. We forchecked well and caught their transition game and scored. In the second we got on our heels and I think Russia got stronger then by the third we cold not keep going for 60 minutes. Weeed to look forward. Good to get this game in as a measuring stick for our team."
The first period was fun to watch as both teams traded chances. Sweden came out on the attack, taking the play to their opponents and keeping the inexperienced Russian defenders bottled up in their own zone over the early part of the game. A strong pace to the contest led to chances in both ends of the ice. There were few whistles over the first half of the period.
Shots on goal in the period were 10-9 Sweden.
Alexander Edler established an early presence with two jarring hits in the period.
Sweden would get on the board at 14:40 when Victor Hedman sent a long pass out of the defensive zone through the neutral zone, rebounding off the board to Victor Rask on the wing. Rask brought the puck along the sideboard, fought of a check from Artyom Zub, to find Elias Lindholm streaking towards the net.
Lindholm’s high wrister beat Andrei Vasilevski, putting Tre Kronor up early.
Both team continued at it in the second period but both defences cut down the number of quality chances. Vasilevski was in fine form, handling the wave of Swedish attacks on his net. Vasilevski was a member of the 2014 gold medal winning Russian team that went undefeated in Minsk, Belarus. In the two games he appeared, Vasilevski won both, conceding a lone goal and registering a shutout.
Panarin was involved in the action and had a few opportunities to get Russia event. In the first period, he received a cross ice pass from Vadim Shipachyov that he fired on goal but was stopped by Viktor Fasth. Then in the second period he was stonewalled on another high quality chance.
Russia applied pressure early in the third period and were close. A wraparound try by Alexander Barabanov was blocked by a perfectly positioned Fasth.
At 3:58 of the third, Russia’s continued pressure finally led to a goal. Working to keep the puck deep, Ivan Provorov sent the puck behind the net to Barabanov whose backhand pass found Sergei Andronov in front to equalize the game.
The goal brought the decidedly pro Russia crowd to life and sparked the team. In the period, Russia was dominant, showing more energy and getting after loose pucks. The stat sheet told the story as they outshot Sweden 14-3.
"Maybe we didn't play all that well in the first two periods, but we got it right in the third." Vasilevski said. "We worked harder, skated harder, the guys never gave up. They blocked shots well, they helped me see the puck. It wasn't easy to adapt but thanks to the way our guys played - especially in the third period - it got easier."
In overtime three-on-three made for more thrilling action. Nikita Kucherov missed on a breakaway when he shot the puck backhand and wide. Then Vasilevski made a stop in front, shoveled the puck forward to create a two-on-one for his team but an errant back pass by Provorov sent Sweden back two-on-one in the other direction but Rask could not tee up the puck off a pass from Hedman that hit him in the chest.
The ever dangerous Panarin scored the only goal of the shootout to cap the Russian comeback and earn his team its first win of the tournament.
Sweden came up just short but able to pick up a point.