Evgeni Malkin was on the scoresheet again as Russia, again, were pushed by a team they should beat easily. This time, it was Denmark that proved to be difficult opponents. Both teams played their backup goalies and it was Simon Neilsen who turned away 49 of the 52 shots he faced. The game started brightly enough for Russia when they took the lead on two minutes. Yevgeny Medvedev opened the scoring when he smashed the puck past Neilsen from the blue line. However, this wasn’t a signal for an onslaught as Denmark found a fortuitous equaliser from Montreal Canadiens player Lars Eller. Konstantin Barulin, in the Russian net, had to be vigilant as Denmark sought a go ahead goal and Frans Nielsen went close to giving Denmark the lead.
It was Malkin’s clinical finish from a superb Alexander Perezhogin pass that gave Russia the lead 13 minutes into the tie. This takes Malkin to 3 goals in 4 games and carries on his rich vein form for the season. The second period started brightly for Russia as they sought the goal that would kill off the game and found it 6:32 into the second period. Evgeny Kuznetsov burst towards goal and cooly dropped the puck off for Dmitri Kalinin to beat Neilsen off his right hand post. Both teams contested the rest of the period seeking goals.
Team Russia didn’t give us anything for free. Not often do you see a Russian team going out and playing that hard against teams like us.
The third period saw the Danes endeavouring to get a goal to claw their way back. Barulin was called into making 20 saves as Denmark stepped up pressure and intensity. This intensity overstepped the mark when defenseman Jesper Jensen was called for hooking but Nikolai Kulemin missed the resultant penalty shot. Another piece of Barulin excellence snuffed out a Jannik Hansen breakaway near the end of the game to thwart Denmark again. Malkin ended the game on 4 shots from his 17:05 on the ice with 57% face offs won.
The first big test for Russia comes today (11th May) with a showdown against joint hosts, Sweden. The Swedes are littered with NHL players such as Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg and are also unbeaten in the tournament. The Swedes top the group, over Russia, by virtue of a superior goal difference of 1 (+10 vs +9). A underperformance from the Russians will, undoubtedly, get punished in front of a partisan Ericsson Globe crowd.