(Courtesy of Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Russia earned their 24th consecutive victory against the team that was last to beat them on the World’s stage on Tuesday by shutting out Finland 5-0. With the win the team earns the right to play Canada in the quarter-finals on Thursday in a rematch of the 2010 Olympics and the last two gold medal games at the World’s.
Sergei Fedorov would open up the scoring for the Russian’s with his first goal of the tournament with four minutes left in the first period on the powerplay collecting a rebound for the 1-0 lead. Evgeni Malkin, who was playing in his 50th game for Sbornya, doubled the lead 13 minutes into the second period beating keeper Petri Vehanen 5-hole. His goal would be the team’s second on the power-play.
Seconds later Nikolai Kulemin would collect a rebound off a Maxim Afinogenov shot to put the Russian’s up 3-0. Alexei Emelin would get his first goal of the tournament blasting it top-shelf 2:15 minutes in the third period for a commanding 4-0 lead before Afinogenov would cap-off the rout 40 seconds later with a slapper of his own to seal the 5-0 victory. Semyon Varlamov returned to action and turned away all 36 shots for his first shutout of the tournament.
Russia heads into the quarter-finals game winners of group E and their date with Canada will be the highlight of the tournament as the team’s have re-ignited their rivalry in the last few years including the embarrassing Canadian rout in Vancouver where 14 of the members of this team have surely not forgotten. We expect Russia to win and to see them defending their gold medal come Sunday.