Panarin paces 4-0 win
Panarin paces 4-0 win
Bobrovski Victory Day hero for third time
Sergei Bobrovski was letter perfect when he had to be in the Rusisan net, stopping all 27 shots. More incredibly, this is his third straight shutout for Russia on May 9.
"It was our best game so far," enthused Sergei Shirokov. "This day [Victory Day] is in all our hearts, not just for Russian hockey players but for everyone in Russia."
Odd-man situations were also critical to the result. Latvia had nearly 12 minutes of power-play time, including more than threre minutes in total of 5-on-3, but couldn't put a sinlge puck past Bobrovski.
"Even though we took too many penalties, the guys did a great job," Bobrovski said. "They didn't give up. They got in front of the puck. They battled for everything."
The game was marked by sensational goaltending at both ends, particularly in the Latvian cage where Elvis Merzlikins was, for the most part, sensational in facing 37 shots. Indeed, the first period was scoreless only because of Elvis, who stopped all 13 shots he faced.
It wasn’t such smooth sailing in the second, though. The Russians came out with even greater speed and scored just 29 seconds in when Panarin’s bad-angle shot beat Merzlikins, his one gaffe on the night.
Panarin was the central figure of the other goal in the period some seven minutes later. He checked a lax Kristaps Sotnieks behind the Latvian goal and started a great three-way passing play. In the blink of an eye the puck went from Panarin behind the goal to Vadim Shipachyov to the side of the net to Yevgeni Dadonov. Dadonov had the open net and didn’t miss.
Merzlikins stoned Panarin midway through the period on a clean breakaway, and Latvia had a great chance to get back in the gate late in the period when Alexei Yemelin was given a major penalty for tripping and a game misconduct for a knee-on-knee check on Miks Indrasis, who was helped off the ice by the trainer (but returned in the third).
Try as they might, though, the Latvians couldn’t beat Sergei Bobrovski, who was sensational when he had to be. In fact, during that five-minute advantage the Russians took another penalty, but even with a two-man advantage for 75 seconds, the Latvians came up empty.
"That was a critical moment in the game," Bobrovski acknowledged. "It was only 2-0 at that point, and if they had scored, it might have been a different game."
It was another gorgeous three-way play that made it 3-0 at 7:02 of the final period. Panarin whipped a pass from the corner to Dadonov, and with equal speed Dadonov sent the puck to the net where Shipachyov made a clever re-direct of the puck past a helpless Merzlikins.
A minute later, it appeared that Sergei Mozyakin had made it 4-0, but video review determined he kicked the puck in.
Panarin got his second of the game at 17:30 on a power play, again after a nice pass that gave him the open side of the net.
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