Russian hockey players are both lucky and unlucky with the opponent in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup. On the one hand, in the group stage of the tournament, the Americans didn’t even show themselves as a team capable of stopping the superstar attack of Ilya Vorobyov. Even with the excellent game of goalkeepers Cory Schneider and Thatcher Demko, they missed 15 goals in seven meetings and in none of them were they able to keep their goal intact.
At the same time, having brought to Slovakia a scattering of speedy and incredibly technical forwards led by Patrick Caine and Johnny Godro, the stars and stripes had everything they needed to seriously load Andrei Vasilevsky with work, and approached the playoffs with one of the best tournament performance indicators of the numerical advantage, exceeding the mark of 40%.
To whom luck has smiled for sure, it is neutral viewers. The Russia-United States duel became one of the most entertaining at a tournament in general and certainly the most interesting with the participation of two really high-level rivals.
But the domestic fans had to be thoroughly nervous: right up to the final seconds of the third period it was not clear which team would continue to fight for one of the sets of prizes of the world championship. And this is with the obvious advantage of the “Red Car” both in terms of shots on target (43 vs. 32 for the Americans) and in real scoring chances. Even in the match with the Swedes, who missed seven goals from the charges of Ilya Vorobyov, there were significantly fewer goals.
There is a squad for the quarter-finals!
Starting face-off at 17:15 Moscow time. # смимироссияpic.twitter.com / ryqIOjMwCO
After the starting dvadtsatiminutki, however, nothing foretold a fierce battle for victory and crazy intrigue right up to the final siren. Russian hockey players opened the scoring in the second minute of the match, and then managed to punish the opponent for the very first in the match deletion (it was earned by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who fouled the above-mentioned Godro) with the efforts of the same performers.
At first, Nikita Gusev, the attacker, was best guided after the shot of Mikhail Sergachev from the blue line and successfully played the finishing, and then returned the favor to the young defender of Tampa Bay Lightning, leading him to an assist roll from long range.
The USA national team woke up only after it got a lag in two goals. The opponent spent one or two good shifts in the attack zone under the curtain of the first period, and the second came out with a completely different attitude - and promptly deprived Vasilevsky of the opportunity to play to zero. The goalkeeper of the Russian squad was frankly unlucky: the throw of defender Brady Shea did not conceal a particular threat, but an unpleasant ricochet intervened in the matter, to which Andrei, unfortunately, was simply not strong enough.
It happened in the 23rd minute of the fight, and the Americans, as it seemed, gained a second wind. They continued to fail regularly in their area - only Alexander Ovechkin alone missed two great opportunities to regain the advantage to Russian hockey players by two goals, but not only he had excellent chances to write his name in the protocol. But for every dangerous shot on Schneider’s goal, the Americans responded with their not less sharp ones, and Vasilevsky had to work hard, accomplishing one salvation after another.
The climax of the second period came after Kuznetsov had been removed for a late force reception: the US team players who had caught courage did everything possible to level the score in the “five by four” format, and locked the favorite in his zone for a good minute and a half. But it didn’t really come up with anything - and the four defending, and the goalkeeper acted most reliably, not allowing Kane and the company to restore parity.
The final statistics of the quarter-final match! # DreamsRussia # IIHFWorldspic.twitter.com / 1gkpkqBlD7- Hockey of Russia (@russiahockey) May 23, 2019
In the debut of the third period, Sergachev and Gusev were recorded as an asset for the third score for performance - the defender made an important interception, and the striker developed an assist counterattack, which was crowned with the second puck in the World Championship by Kirill Kaprizov. CSKA did not win the attacker in the end, but was probably the most important in the match: it is not known how the quarter-finals would end, if the Russians formed a handicap in the starting 20 minutes.
They already had a very hard time (soon the defender Noa Hanifine again reduced the star-striped lag to the minimum, leaving Vasilevsky no chance of a cannon shot under the crossbar), but Vorobyov’s wards at least reserved the right to make a mistake.
The Americans did not capitulate even after Mikhail Grigorenko completed another smart counterattack of the Russian team, born of a desperate race of Yevgeny Dadonov through half the site for an unattended puck. They did not yield to the national hockey players in the throws in the third period (11 vs. 11), three minutes before the final siren replaced Schneider with the sixth field player and again achieved local success with Alex Debrinkat’s hands.
Forward throw in touch with an acute angle closed the transfer of Kane excellent. Vorobyov asked the arbitrators to study the video replays of the scoring time to interfere with Vasilevsky, but they did not see any illegal actions on the part of the stars and stars - 4: 3.
True, no matter how anxious it was for the fate of the Russian team in the final minutes of the match, the US team was quite far from the comeback. Somewhere the Americans did not have enough accuracy in the transmissions under the cast of a partner, but, first of all, the dedication of domestic performers in their area should be noted.
Vasilevsky, more than rightly named the best player of the match as part of Vorobyov’s team, did not lose concentration for a second, and Malkin, despite being one of the main stars of the World Cup, did not spare himself for the throws played by American defenders, none of whom as a result, it never reached the gate.
Highlights: @russiahockey 4-3 quarter-final win over @usahockey at #IIHFWorlds
More game highlights> https://t.co/LZ0SQWyVuEpic.twitter.com/ueIbR2HO5I
Having stood, “Red car” reserved a place in the semifinals, which will be held this coming Saturday, May 25, in Bratislava. It is still unknown who will be her rival in the next stage of the world championship. There are a lot of options, taking into account the new sowing rules introduced by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) right before the start of the 2019 World Cup: either Germany, if it manages to beat the Czech Republic, or the winner of the meeting Sweden - Finland, if the Germans lose. But whichever of them eventually fell out, he definitely does not promise an easy walk to the final.