MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Haunted by poor performances in the recent years, the Russian machine seems to be back on its track going for the confident four-game winning spree at the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship, held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk from May 9 to 25.
In their most recent match, held at the Minsk Arena on Wednesday, the Russians blasted past the team from Kazakhstan 7:2, although the score was uncorked by Russia’s Sergei Plotnikov only on the 14th minute into the game and remained unchanged at 1:0 until the end of the first period.
"We weren't very pleased with our first period," the championship’s official website quoted Znarok as saying after the game.
"We were trying too hard to make beautiful plays and we needed to score more goals. At the intermission we talked about the need to make sure we got the result. After that everything went smoothly," he added.
Whatever Znarok told the team during the intermission, the Russians surged to score three unanswered goals in the second period to recede for another intermission with the rich 4:0 advantage over the Kazakh team.
Russia’s Yegor Yakovlev scored his debut world championship’s goal shortly after two minutes into the second period and almost a minute later his teammate Danis Zaripov wristed a powerful netter past Kazakh goaltender Alexei Ivanov. The third and the final goal in the second period was scored by Russian forward Nikolai Kulyomin.
It is worth mentioning that the first three goals of the match were scored by the Russians during the power-plays. In their first three games of the championship, the Russian team scored only twice in a total of 14 power-play attempts.
Despite the 4:0 advantage over Kazakhstan, Russia’s Viktor Tikhonov brought the score to 5:0 with little over a minute into the start of the third period.Kazakhstan, however, managed to put an end to their scoreless drought and put the puck in the net behind Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovski on the 9th minute of the period, when Kazakh forward Mikhail Panshin tipped a shot from his Canada-born teammate Kevin Dallman.
Three minutes later Kazakhstan found the way to the Russian net again as its forward Andrei Spiridonov put the score against Russia to 2-5.
But it was again Plotnikov, who opened the score of the match, to bring Russia another goal with less than a minute remaining into the match. Russian fans had no time to quiet down after the shot from Plotnikov as Alexander Burmistrov netted another goal to seal the score at 7-2 with six seconds before the final buzzer.
Kazakhstan’s goaltender Ivanov was named as his team’s best player of the match. Repelling Russian squad’s heavy bombardment Ivanov made 40 saves out of 47 attempted goals during the game.
With three assists and one goal, Russia’s Viktor Tikhonov was named the best player of the match for his team. The 26-year-old Russian forward currently tops the rating of the best scorers of the championship boasting a total of nine points after four games (4 goals, 5 assists).
Speaking at a news conference after the match, Tikhonov said that the “match was not as easy as it could have seemed.”
“Although the score stood at 7:2, the Kazakh team displayed a great spirit by scoring twice in the end of the match making us nervous and teaching us a lesson that one should never relax,” Tikhonov, whose grandfather coached the legendary Soviet team in late 1970s and early 1980s, said.
The Russian team will play its next game of the championship on May 17 against team Latvia, which is very familiar to Russia’s 51-year-old trainer Znarok, who used to coach the Latvian national team in 2006-2011.
Russian fans expect their national squad to put on a new game at this championship following the team’s disappointing performance at last year’s World Championship, when it was knocked out from the quarterfinals after being creamed 3-8 by the United States. Another disappointing performance followed at this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where the Russian squad failed once more to clear the quarterfinals stage losing on its home ice 1-3 to Finland.
Russia’s most recent titles of world champions were conquered in 2008, 2009 and 2012. The 2008 title was a real treat for Russian hockey fans as it came to the team after a 15-year drought. That title Russia snatched from Canada, which was hosting the World Championship for the first time in its history, with 5-4 victory in overtime.