Evgeni Malkin contributed 2 assists as Russia overcame Norway’s dogged resistance and leads the tournament scoring with 5 points. As with Latvia, the Russians found Norway equally determined on the ice. Throughout the first period, Russia found it difficult to get good scoring positions despite outshooting the Norwegians 16-5. Lars Volden, a 19 year old Boston Bruins prospect, held firm throughout the period on his tournament debut.
The game burst into life in the second period when both teams found that their powerplay was working efficiently. Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring after video replay showed the puck firing off the back bar of the net and back into play. Norway paid an expensive price again for penalties when Denis Denisov made it 2-0. However, a high sticking penalty conceded by Russia gave Norway a two man advantage and Morten Ask fired a slapshot past Semyon Varlamov. It could have been worse for Russia when Per-Åge Skrøder backhanded a rebound in but the goal was called off as the whistle had already been blown. Norway lost focus whilst they were feeling aggrieved. Despite a big hit on Evgeni Malkin, he managed to find Nikolai Kulyomin who promptly tucked the puck away for a 3-1 lead. To add to Malkin’s woes, Norwegian captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen fell on him during the aftermath of the hit and Malkin was left shaken.
Another long range slapshot, this time from Marius Holtet, punished Russia on the powerplay and left the game tightly poised at 3-2 at the end of the 2nd period. The anticipation of the Norwegian fans in the crowd didn’t come to fruition as Alexander Perezhogin scored early on in the third period. Malkin turned creator again as Perezhogin smartly finished his give-and-go play.
“We have key guys like Malkin playing very well. If they continue to do that, we’ll see what happens. But we just have to keep playing hard.”
Russia are fully aware that they have sterner test to come, firstly in the form of Germany next match, but they seem fully prepared to be patient. Malkin’s NHL form has withstood the flight to Scandinavia and appears to be carrying Team Russia towards another final appearance at least.