Captain Alexei Morozov scored his second goal in sudden-death overtime as Russia rallied to beat the Czech Republic 5-4 in the preliminary round of the World Ice Hockey Championships.
Morozov’s goal just over three minutes into the extra session spoiled a superb performance on Sunday by Czech forward Patrik Elias who had a hat trick at the Colisee arena.
The thrilling see-saw game featured four lead changes, seven power play goals and a Russian penalty shot in overtime.
In Group B action, Dany Heatley had a goal and three assists and Pascal Leclaire stopped 30 shots for the shutout as defending champions Canada cruised to a 7-0 win over Latvia at the Halifax Metro Centre arena.
The US defeated Slovenia 5-1 in the other Halifax game while Denmark rolled over Italy 6-2 in the late game Quebec City.
With the victory, Russia take over first place in Group D with five points in two games, one point ahead of the Czechs.
Konstantin Gorovikov, Kostantin Korneyev and Sergei Zinoviev also scored for Russia who outshot the Czechs 4-2 in the overtime.
Elias’ three goals all came on the power play. Buffalo Sabres forward Ales Kotalik added another power-play goal for the Czechs who blew two leads in the game (2-1, 4-3) and outshot the Russians 43-27.
Morozov capped off an exciting overtime frame, taking a drop pass from Zinoviev and firing it between the blocker of Czech goalie Milan Hnilicka and the far post.
The overtime started with Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk being awarded a penalty shot after just 30 seconds when he was hauled down on a breakaway by Tomas Kaberle. But after some nifty stickhandling moves, Kovalchuk’s shot hit the left post and sailed into the corner.
The victory may have proved costly for Russia as starting goaltender Alexander Eremenko left the game with a suspected knee injury. Russia are now left with just one fit goalie because their third string goalie is also hurt, Bykov said.
Eremenko was replaced by backup Mikhail Biryukov and it seemed to spark the Russians as Morozov scored the first of his two goals just minutes later to give Russia a 3-2 lead.
In Halifax, Canada’s Rick Nash had two goals against Latvia and with his four points on Sunday, Dany Heatley surpassed current general manager Steve Yzerman for the all-time lead for Canada in World Championships.
Heatley is playing on a star-studded line with Anaheim Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Columbus Blue Jackets Nash. The trio have 16 points two games so far.
Like Russia, Canada are also 2-0 after beating Slovenia 5-1 in their opening game.