Cologne, Germany. On the final day of preliminary action at the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship, Team USA faced-off against Russia for first place in Group A. Three times Russia held a one-goal lead on the Americans, but Team USA rallied each time to tie and eventually take the lead before the final buzzer sounded in Cologne, Germany On Tuesday afternoon.
Down 1-0 one minute into the second frame, Kevin Hayes scored on the power play, assisted by Brock Nelson and Clayton Keller. Later that period, down again, 2-1, Nelson added his second assist on the day when Dylan Larkin tied the knot at two. With 3:45 remaining in the middle frame, Russia scored on the power play as Captain Connor Murphy watched from the box for interference.
A minute and a half later, for the third time for Team USA in the matchup, Kevin Hayes buried one all alone in front from a feed from fellow Boston College-alumnus and New-Jersey-native, Johnny Gaudreau, to even the score at three. Nick Bjugstad registered the secondary assist on the play.
Past the halfway mark of the third period, a frustrated Evgeni Kuznetzov took a slashing penalty. Anders Lee would make him pay 11 seconds into the power play, assisted by Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel. But before Lee scored the game-winning goal, Artemi Panarin had a shorthanded breakaway – a golden opporunity to once again take the lead for the Russians. But Jimmy Howard got the pad on the quick, low snipe attempt.
Larkin would return the favor to Nelson as the Isles’ forward put the game out of reach with Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy looking on from the bench.
Team USA had plenty of time on the man-advantage. Team Russia registered 16 PIM. With enough tries, the Americans registered two power play goals.
Vasilevskiy turned aside 30 of 35 shots while Howard stopped 16 of 19 shots on goal. Not spectacular for the American backstop, but enough to get the job done.
After being upset by co-host Germany in the opening preliminary matchup 2-1, Team USA went on to win the remaining six preliminary tilts to take the top spot in Group A. Team USA will face Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 10:15am EST in Cologne.