After last night’s letdown against the Swedes, Team Russia had little chance to sulk. Partially in part to a literal rude awakening at the hotel, but also because the young guns of North America awaited mere hours later. What Russia would come out after coming so close to clawing their way against a strong Swedish team versus a team that has existed for a good two weeks? It looked to be more of the same from Sunday, as again Russia allowed the first goal after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel made Pavel Datsyuk and the D corps look pedestrian for the quick lead. Russia would get numerous chances on the man advantage but could barely muster any sort of offense as that “here we go again” feeling slowly crept into everyones head.
Bless the intermission because whatever came out in the second period had been missing all tournament. A fortunate bounce off of Matt Murray’s skate off a Vladislav Namestnikov shot tied the contest and breathed life into a team that looked DOA. Russia’s next shot nearly a minute later resulted in a goal as well as the puck fell right to Nikita Kucherov after taking a fun bounce off the boards to give them a quick 2-1 lead. After some pressure from the kids, Evgeny Kuznetsov went coast to coast to double the lead as well as declare his love for chicken dances. The fun didn’t stop there for Russia as Vladimir Tarasenko got in on the act following a turnaround laser that would chase Murray to the bench. Four shots, four goals in just six minutes and the game appeared to be a wrap.
Ah, but this is Team Russia we are talking about here, a team that for whatever reason can’t make things easy for themselves. Before the second period came to a close the lead was cut in half. Just three minutes into the final frame saw TNA come within just one goal to mark an incredible comeback/collapse. Luckily for Russia and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sergei Bobrovsky is in mid-season form. Bob made 43 saves including crucial second and third chances to keep Russia from embarrassing themselves. Thanks to his heroics, Russia can breathe easier against Finland on Thursday (3pm est) but they will still likely need to overcome those pesky Northern neighbors in hopes of advancing to the elimination rounds.