TORONTO (AP) — Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko scored on consecutive shots and Sergei Bobrovsky made 42 saves as Russia beat Team North America 4-3 in a fast-paced, end-to-end game Monday night at the World Cup of Hockey.
Russia’s offense came alive with four goals in a 6:14 stretch during the second period to chase North America goaltender Matt Murray, who stopped the first 15 shots he faced. Backup John Gibson only faced four shots and stopped them all.
No. 1 draft pick Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for North America (1-1), which outshot Russia 45-23. Bobrovsky was brilliant as Russia (1-1) bounced back from an opening loss to Sweden.
The game was a showcase of the best of the sport, with firewagon hockey, plenty of goals and saves.
The kids put on a show on an early shift as Matthews stole the puck from Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid skated around Pavel Datsyuk to set up a 2-on-1 rush. Matthews finished it off for his first of what should be many goals at Air Canada Centre.
Murray bailed out turnover after turnover by his teammates, including a couple from defenseman Seth Jones. North America’s defense had to fill several minutes with Aaron Ekblad out with an upper-body injury, replaced by Jacob Trouba.
North America’s penalty kill worked like a charm and gave Murray a break, but the dam burst at even strength midway through the second period when Jones missed his whack at a loose puck. Namestnikov got the rebound, banked the puck off the post and Murray’s skate and in, beginning the Russian onslaught.
After Ovechkin clanked a shot off the post behind Murray, a wide-open Kucherov pounced on a loose puck to give Russia the lead. Within a few minutes, Kuznetsov’s goal flying down the right wing and Tarasenko’s from the left faceoff circle made it 4-1 and ended Murray’s night.
Once North America got the puck back, it continued to bombard Bobrovsky with shots. Rielly scored late in the second period and Nugent-Hopkins early in the third. It failed to score on an extended 5-on-3 power play and couldn’t beat Bobrovsky on 6-on-4 in the final minute with Shayne Gostisbehere’s shot hitting the post as time ran out.
North America wraps up round-robin play Wednesday against Sweden, while Russia faces Finland on Thursday.
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