It’s Deutschland’s day
It’s Deutschland’s day
First German win over Belarus since 2007
Patrick Reimer, Leon Draisaitl, and Felix Schutz also scored for Germany, which earned its second regulation win and moved into fourth place in Group B with seven points. Marcel Noebels had two assists.
"We wanted a good start and it worked out for us pretty well," said Reimer. "We got the bounces we needed, and then Belarus found a better way to get into the game. But we managed to push against that pressure, and in the end we deserved the win tonight."
Andrei Stepanov and Andrei Stas replied for Belarus, which has just three points in five games and sits seventh in the group.
"The result of the game was unsatisfactory," said Belarus coach Dave Lewis. "Their first goal was a deflection and the second was scored on a turnover. They outworked us in the first period, and we had some players who didn’t work hard at all."
For Germany, this was just the second win over the former Soviet republic in six tries all-time. The Germans won 6-5 on May 7, 2007 in Moscow, the last time the IIHF World Championship was held in Russia.
"It was a solid effort from everyone," said German coach Marco Sturm. "We treated this like a playoff game. Keep it simple and get the puck out. I am proud of what our players were able to do."
Goalie Thomas Greiss made his 2016 debut for Germany after his New York Islanders were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his first top-level Worlds game and first IIHF appearance since the 2010 Olympics.
Greiss got the win despite surrendering arguably the ugliest goal of this tournament, rivalled only by Kazakhstan's Roman Savchenko scoring on Switzerland's Reto Berra from center ice.
Shots favored Germany 19-18 in this grinding affair. Tobias Rieder, who plays for the NHL's Arizona Coyotes, sat out with a leg injury.
After weathering an early Belarus power play, Germany’s offence got rolling. Moritz Muller carried the puck down left wing deep into the Belarusian zone, stopped, and sent it back to the point. Reimer stepped in and surprised Koval with a wrister that went short side at 4:26.
Just 1:18 later, Germany capitalized on a turnover at the Belarus blue line to make it 2-0. An oncoming Macek fed it left to Noebels, and he fed it left again to Draisaitl, who banged it into the open side. It was the first goal of the tournament for the 20-year-old Edmonton Oilers star, who has had a quiet run in St. Petersburg.
"We knew we needed a good start to be in the game right away," said Reimer. "It is always easier when you are a couple of goals ahead."
The German power play clicked on its first opportunity. Schutz backhanded the rebound from Philip Gogulla’s point shot high past Koval for a 3-0 lead at 10:47.
Sensing the game was getting away from his troops, Belarus coach Dave Lewis called his timeout to regroup. But it was too already too late to salvage this one.
Tenacious German checking forced Belarusian attackers to the perimeter. When Alexander Pavlovich and Alexander Kitarov got back-to-back chances late in the opening stanza, Pielmeier barred the door. Geoff Platt got a break but put the puck off the side of the net.
On a second-period power play, Belarus cut the deficit to 3-1 at 8:08. It came on an end-to-end rush by Andrei Stepanov, who took the puck behind his own net, bolted down the ice, stickhandled around blueliner Constantin Braun, and then went high glove on Pielmeier.
As is his wont, Stepanov celebrated ostentatiously, putting his hands on his hips in the neutral zone. It was the 30-year-old Dynamo Minsk forward's second goal in as many games, as he also scored the winner in the 4-2 comeback victory over Slovakia.
The goal jacked up the pro-Belarus crowd, which had been chanting “Shaibu!” all night long.
But the revival wouldn’t last long for Lewis’s crew. With Draisaitl screening in front, Macek beat Koval at 14:23 with a long slap shot that tipped off a Belarus defender’s stick.
"I think when Brooks Macek scored, that was huge for us and was the game-changer," said Sturm.
Koval stopped Gogulla on a breakaway at the start of the third period.
Then Belarus got new life on an embarrassing miscue by Greiss. Yevgeni Lisovets sent a long shot toward the German net, which Stas tipped in the neutral zone, and Greiss all too casually put his stick out to play the puck and inadvertently deflected it into his own net. With 10:46 left to play, it was 4-2.
"That goal came a little bit out of nowhere," said Sturm. "He played so well we’ll give him that goal. We didn’t panic and played the same way we played. That was a tough one for Greiss."
Greiss made amends for his earlier boo-boo by foiling Artur Gavrus on a breakaway with six minutes remaining. That helped to ensure the Belarusians wouldn't rally back for the second game in a row.
Sergei Kostitsyn took a untimely hooking penalty in the offensive zone to seal Belarus's fate. Gogulla potted an empty-netter with nine seconds left.
With Germany’s win, the scenario that both 2017 World Championship co-hosts – Germany and France – could finish in the last two places (15th and 16th) and only one instead of two teams would be relegated is no longer possible. This means that in addition to Slovenia, Italy will also officially be promoted next year.
Next up for Belarus is winless Hungary on Saturday. Germany battles the Americans on Sunday.
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