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MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. The Russian national ice hockey team began its journey for the world champion’s title with an edging 2-1 victory over team Sweden in Germany’s Cologne, where the 2017 IIHF World Championship kicked off today.
Both teams seemed to test each other for the most of the opening period, but with six minutes remaining it was Sweden’s forward Elias Lindholm to open the score as he shot the puck into the net behind Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski.
The Russian team had a chance to tie the score on the power-play by the end of the period, when Sweden’s Linus Omark was handed a two-minute penalty for ‘holding a stick,’ but the teams eventually retreated for the break with the score of 1-0 in favor of Tre Kronor.
Some five minutes into the second period, the Russians had another opportunity to score on the power-play after Sweden’s Victor Hedman was sent to the penalty booth for slashing, but the Swedish defense was strong again.
Ten minutes into the middle period Russia’s defenseman Ivan Provorov was sent for two minutes to the penalty booth for the high stick game, but the Swedish squad failed to take the five-on-four advantage over the opponents. The rest of the period went scoreless with a minimum number of attempted goals.
However, with the assist from Russia’s Alexander Barabanov, his teammate Sergei Andronov found a weak spot in the goal of Viktor Fasth to pierce the net with a shot to tie the score at 1-1 in the opening minutes of the third period.
Russia’s scored goal remained the only in the closing period of the match to take both teams to the sudden-death decider, which also proved to be scoreless to take the teams to penalty shoot-outs.
Russian goaltender Vasilevsky was solid during the shoot-out making a total of three saves, while his teammate Artemi Panarin scored the winning puck.
Another opening match in Group B on Friday in France put together last year’s vice champions Finland and the team from Belarus. Winning confidently 2-0 from the start of the game, the Finnish squad had to sweat off eventually to snatch the 3-2 victory from stubborn Belarus.
The 2017 IIHF tournament is held in Germany’s Cologne at its 18,500-seat Lanxess Arena and in the French capital at the Bercy 14,500-seat venue from May 5 through May 21, 2017.
Cologne is hosting 34 games, including Group A, two quarter-finals and all semi-final and medal games. Paris is hosting 30 games, including all games of Group B and two quarter-final games.
Group A in Cologne includes last year’s IIHF championship host and bronze medalist Russia, which was ranked second in the 2016 IIHF Men’s World Ranking, as well as Team USA, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Latvia, Denmark and Italy.
Defending champion Canada is playing in Group B in Paris, where they had been squared off against last year’s silver-medal winners Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, France and Slovenia.