Evgeni Malkin and the Russian team will be glad that this game is over as Latvia made a real spirited attempt in Stockholm today. The Latvian team contained many KHL players from Dynamo Riga and this experience showed as they held Russia for 36 minutes. It was 2 powerplay goals, the second from Malkin, that unlocked Latvia in the 2nd period. A goal from Miks Indrasis had given Latvia the lead in the 11th minute and Russia responded well without reward. Latvia played their part and could have taken a 2-0 lead when a Mikelis Redlihs hit the frame of the goal with Semyon Varlamov beaten.
The third period was Russia’s as they finally found second gear. Malkin popped up again to make it 3-1 with a give-and-go to Alexander Popov and neatly finished the move. It was Popov who scored the fourth Russian goal with a clinical finish to Alexander Perezhogin‘s left wing surge. However, the Latvians weren’t going to go down quietly and gave themselves a chance when Martins Cipulis rifled a slapshot into Varlamov’s net. The threat of a comeback was snuffed out just over a minute later when Evgeny Kuznetsov burst through on goal and wristed the puck high into the net to finally kill the game off for Russia.
“There are 29 teams in the NHL that try to stop Malkin every day. These guys are top players in the world. We did well in the first period against these guys, but a game is three periods.”
Latvia coach, and ex-Pittsburgh Penguin, Ted Nolan was phlegmatic about the game in his post match interview but Latvia should be given real credit for showing heart and determination in the game. Malkin ended his game with 3 points (2 goals and an assist) with 7 shots in 17:16 of ice time. Next up for Russia is Norway who lost their first game against joint hosts Sweden.
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