Yashin: No points..
Russians rally to tie Slovakia
By Lucas Aykroyd
Who will win Group A? Monday's 3-3 tie between Slovakia and Russia
provided more questions than answers. Viktor Kozlov's late goal
enabled Russia to secure the single point.
Much like the 2002 gold medal game, Slovak goalie Jan Lasak and
Russian netminder Maxim Sokolov faced off for bragging rights. This
time it was a saw-off, with Lasak stopping 28 shots and Sokolov
countering with 19 saves of his own.
Ivan Nepryaev and Andrei Markov also scored for Russia. Zigmund
Palffy, Marian Hossa, and Lubomir Visnovsky had the Slovak goals.
The previous Slovakia-Russia meeting in the Worlds was a 2-0 win for
the Slovaks in the 2004 Qualifying Round.
In the early going, neither team had a decisive advantage, but the
Slovaks looked better-organized, while the Russians struggled to get
their skating game in gear. Alexander Ovechkin managed a nice long
pass to Maxim Afinogenov streaking through the neutral zone, but the
breakaway failed to materialize. Going the other direction, Andrei
Markov hauled down Marian Hossa on a break and was penalized.
The Slovaks opened the scoring at 12:57 on the ensuing power play,
when Martin Strbak's low shot from the point rebounded off the back
boards to Palffy, who was wide open to Sokolov's left and tapped it
in the open side with the goalie caught off-guard. Ovechkin and
Afinogenov came back buzzing around the Slovak net, but their flash
and dash generated nothing.
At 9:23 of the second period, Slovakia stretched its lead to 2-0 on a
pretty power play tally. Josef Stumpel cut into the Russian zone on
left wing and circled round the goal, sending a backhand pass from
behind the goal to Hossa, who deked Sokolov and put the disc home on
the short side.
Just 22 seconds later, Russia had a reply. A shot fired by Vladimir
Antipov on the rush deflected off the skate of Ivan Nepryaev, who was
turning in front of Lasak, and the puck slid through the Slovak
netminder's legs. Seconds later, Alexander Ovechkin made a strong bid
for the tying goal, bursting down left wing and stickhandling his way
through Richard Linter, but Lasak stuck out his glove to stop
Ovechkin's fluttering shot.
The goal seemed to take the Slovak fans out of the game, and Russia
capitalized on its newfound momentum. During a two-man Russian
advantage with Stumpel and Handzus serving minors, Russian point man
Andrei Markov moved into the center of the rink and blasted a
slapshot past Lasak's stick side at 12:22, tying the score at 2-2.
A post-whistle scrum broke out at 16:01 of the middle frame in the
Russian zone after Sokolov had smothered the puck. Slovak captain
Miroslav Satan, Russian defenseman Vitali Proshkin, and Russian
forward Ilya Kovalchuk were the main combatants, dropping their
sticks and gloves, and when Finnish referee Hannu Henriksson had it
all sorted out, the Slovaks enjoyed the man advantage.
Then Markov was penalized for roughing up Michal Handzus deep in his
zone, making it a two-man advantage. Heavy Slovak pressure ensued,
particularly when Pavel Datsyuk lost his stick, but the Detroit star
recovered by kicking the puck out of the Russian zone soccer-style.
The Slovaks regained the lead just 1:27 into the third period after
Russia got dinged for too many men on the ice. Lubomir Visnovsky
stepped in from the right point and hammered a slapshot past
In the fourth minute, Russia's Alexander Kharitonov came close to
tying it but his blast from the left side ricocheted off the post
The Russians really started to crank it up in the last half of the
third period. The rushing Afinogenov had a wide-open chance off an
Ovechkin rebound to tie it at the side of the net, but he whacked it
off the side of the net. Nepryaev faked out Dominik Granak a couple
of minutes later and had a great opportunity cutting in from the
right side, but his shot drifted high and wide.
With 2:21 remaining, the Russians finally broke through. Ilya
Kovalchuk whacked the puck off Lasak's left pad in close before
Viktor Kozlov snared the rebound and put it high over the fallen
goalie to secure the tie.
Vladimir Antipov was named Russia's Player of the Game, while Zigmund
Palffy claimed the honors for Slovakia.
The Stadthalle was packed with a massively pro-Slovak crowd, which
frequently drowned out Russian fans' chants of "Shaibu!" by whistling
deafeningly and singing "Slovensko!"