Sweden, Russia advance to semi-finals
Lightning signee Johan Harju extended his hot streak today at the World Championships, as he assisted on one of Sweden’s four goals this afternoon in a 4-2 win over Denmark. Harju now has two goals and three points in his last three tournament matches. In other games on Thursday, the Czech Republic earned a 2-1 victory over Finland, while Germany defeated Switzerland 1-0 and Russia eliminated Canada from the tournament with a 5-2 win in the action’s premier matchup of the day.
The Swedes got off to a quick start against Denmark, scoring three unanswered goals through a period and a half with Marcus Nilson, Jonas Andersson and Rickard Wallin each finding the back of the net. Denmark scored its second goal in the final period, but Sweden added an additional score to pull away for the win. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman registered a plus-one rating while recording 15 minutes of ice time. Harju added four shots on net to his one-goal total and finished fourth on the team with 18:15 in playing time.
Both the Czech Republic and Finland traded goals in the first and final periods, but it took extra time in the form of a shootout to lift the Czechs to victory. Just 55 seconds into the game, former Bolt Janne Niskala sent a pass from the top of the circle to Petri Kontiola, who snuck between two Czech defensemen, waited for goaltender Tomas Vokoun to go down, and beat him with a wrist shot on the glove side to give Finland a 1-0 lead. Jakub Klepis scored for the Czechs in the third period to tie the game, but Jan Marek proved to be the hero as he won the game with a goal in the tiebreaker.
All it took for Germany to move on to the semifinals was a single goal, as Philip Gogulla found the back of the net in the second period to oust the Swiss from gold-medal contention. Three players, including Gogulla, marked the score sheet for the Germans, who were backstopped by a shutout effort in goal by Dennis Endras that sent the host country to its first semifinal appearance since the current IIHF World Championship playoff format was introduced in 1992.
Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin received a day of rest today in Russia’s 5-2 win over Canada, as he gave way to Washington Capitals net minder Semyon Varlamov who turned back 25 shots. Yet again, Russia was powered by a number of NHL superstars. Evgeni Malkin scored twice, and Maxim Afinogenov, Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Federov also had goals. The Russians held a 4-0 lead until John Tavares put Canada on the scoreboard late in the third period. Matt Duchene doubled Canada’s goal total shortly after, but not before Malkin sealed the win with his second of the day. The win gave Russia its 26th consecutive victory, while Canada failed to reach the semifinal round for the first time since 2006. Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, who served as an alternate captain in the game, logged nearly 15 minutes of ice time and recorded four shots on net. Teammate Steve Downie had one shot, totaled 14:53 in playing time and tallied a team-high 18 penalty minutes in the loss.
With a break in the action tomorrow, the tournament will resume on Saturday with a pair of semifinal matchups between Russia and Germany, as well as the Czech Republic and Sweden.