After failing to win any silverware in 2013 in Sweden and on home ice in Sochi, Team Russia came to Belarus with a new attitude. Their last coach was gone and their new coach preached a defensive style of play, the result? Russia dominated competition at the 2014 Men’s World Championships allowing the fewest goals against and scoring the most goals for as their undefeated run resulted in gold medal with a dominating 5-2 victory over the pesky Finns.
Russia started the scoring with Sergei Shirkov’s goal on the man advantage before Finland equalized in the dying seconds of the first period. Finland was up to the task just like in Sochi earlier this year. Finland would jump ahead with their own power play goal and Russia would trail for just the second time all tournament. However their lead was short-lived as Alex Ovechkin equalized just a minute later which would be their lone even strength goal of the game.
Evgeni Malkin would break the tie late in the second period (on the powerplay of course) to re-give Russia the lead. As the game progressed so did the man advantages. Denis Zaripov would give Russia a two-goal lead before the tournaments leading scorer, Viktor Tikhonov, scored his 8th goal. Despite being frustrated by Pekka Rinne Russia dug deep to find goals and played like a well-oiled machine for the first time in a long time. The gold medal, (their fifth as an independent nation) makes the pain from Sochi disappear for now. Russia will have to repeat their dominant performance for the foreseeable future before their fans can truly believe their dominance is for real. With the Olympics four long years away they have plenty of time to help heal the Sochi wounds. Today was a step in the right direction.