(Courtesy of Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)
On Sunday, Russia opened up their title defense against Slovakia with a 3-1 win in Cologne. Goals by Alexander Ovechkin, Maxim Afinogenov, and Viktor Kozlov were all the team would need to hold off a usually competitive opponent in the Slovaks. Goaltender Vasili Koshechkin turned away 32 of the 33 shots including 13 in the third period with his team being outshot 14 to 3. Playing on Lada Togliatti in the KHL this is Kosheckin’s first start for the National team since 2007.
Russia grabbed the lead with a goal by Afinogenov 14:51 into the first period beating Peter Budaj stick side through a screen. Oveckin would make it 2-0 with a goal off the face-off with his wrist shot ricocheting into the net midway through the second. Being down two goals didnt stop Slovakia from pressing and three minutes into the third period they would get within one with a goal by Ivan Majesky.
Koshechkin would close the door for the remainder of the game until Kozlov sealed the game with an empty net goal clinching the Russian’s first win of the tournament. The team looks to continue it’s winning ways with Kazhastan awaiting them Tuesday. Capitals goalie and likely starter throughout the tournament Semyon Varlamov did not suit up against Slovakia because his airline lost all of his equipment and it is unclear whether he will feature in tomorrow’s game.
According to Puck Daddy Contributor Dmitry Chesnokov’s twitter, Pavel Datsyuk is set to join the team either tomorrow or the following game against Belarus in a move which can only benefit the team as he is one the best two-way forwards in the world. According to the rules, new additions not on the original roster will have to wait until the second round to join their respective teams but these international tournaments and their rules are often wacky and unpredictable.
Below are goals from both Afinogenov and Ovechkin.