The quarterfinals got underway at the 2019 IIHF World Championship today and the United States had a huge task ahead of them: to beat Russia. The Russians blew through the round-robin portion of the tournament and have cemented themselves as the best team in the competition so far.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the order was just too tall. They were edged 4-3, just narrowly missing out on moving on to the semifinals.
Russia got on the board quickly, with Nikita Gusev beating Cory Schneider just 1:07 into the game to make it 1-0.
At 14:18, Johnny Gaudreau took a hooking call putting the USA behind the eight-ball and having to kill off a penalty. But Mikhail Sergachyov potted one at 15:47 on the power play to give the Russians the 2-0 lead. This goal was reviewed for offside prior to the goal being scored, but the call of good goal stood and the Russians had doubled up their lead.
The US would start chipping away, however. Just 2:22 into the second, Brady Skjei had a shot deflect in off of a Russian defender and by goalie Andrei Vasilevski. This made it 2-1 and would be the score at the end of the second period, setting up a climatic third period.
Things did not seem to be going in the Americans’ favor, however, when Kirill Kaprizov scored off of a 2-on-1 1:31 into the third frame. That made it 3-1 Russia.
The USA would get that back when Noah Hanifin scored off of a feed from Jack Hughes at 5:53. That made it 3-2 Russia.
The Russians added another one from Mikhail Grigorenko at 7:02 to make it 4-2. This would set up the US pulling Schneider with about 4:15 to go.
That move would pay off too. At 17:10, Alex DeBrincat scored after a good defensive play by Jack Hughes to keep the zone. DeBrincat’s Chicago teammate, Patrick Kane fed him a pass and the US had made it 4-3. The Russians used their coach’s challenge on this one, charging goalie interference. The goal was good, though, and it was a one goal lead for Russia.
There was a blown offsides call here by the linesman in favor of Russia which killed some American momentum. A Russian player skated the puck back into the Russian zone and James van Riemsdyk touched the puck, this should not have been offsides since the puck was brought back into the defensive zone by the Russian player, but it was whistled down with the faceoff coming outside the Russian zone.
The Americans again pulled Cory to get the extra attacker but it was not to be. Russia held on for the 4-3 victory. Schneider made 39 saves on 43 Russian shots while Vasilevski made 29 stops on 32 American shots.
Hughes had a pair of assists for two points, two shots on net and was a plus-2 as deuces were wild for him. He played 15:52 over 20 shifts.
The next quarterfinal game was a just as down to the wire but continued to overtime instead. Canada defeated Switzerland 3-2 in overtime to advance to the semifinals. Two different Devils from each team came up big for their respective teams.
Switzerland took the lead late in the first period when Sven Andrighetto scored at 18:06. This one came on the power play as Canada’s Jared McCann was in the box for interference.
Canada tied it on Mark Stone’s first goal of the game 5:45 into the second period.
But before the second period was up, the Swiss would retake the lead courtesy of Nico Hischier. He scored from Lino Martschini and Nino Niederreiter to make ti 2-1 before the second break.
And it would remain that way until less than one second remained in regulation when Damon Severson blasted a shot from the point that was blocked in front by a Swiss defender. The puck then bounced right back to Severson and he fired again, this time beating Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni. The game was tied at two and we were headed to overtime.
It took 5:07, but Stone scored his second of the night from Pierre-Luc Dubois – who also assisted on Stone’s other goal – and Shea Theodore to lift the Canadians to the semifinals.
Genoni made 39 saves on 42 Canadian shots while Matt Murray turned aside 22 of the 24 Swiss shots he saw. Severson had the game-tying goal for a point, scored on his only shot of the game and was a plus-1. This was in 23:27 of ice time over 27 shifts. Hischier had the goal for a point on his only shot of the game and was an even plus/minus in 19:34 of TOI over 30 shifts.
Our third quarterfinal of the day that was Devils-related saw Finland and Sweden square off in a Scandinavian battle. This one was a true upset as the Finns knocked off Sweden 5-4 in OT to advance. It was the first Finnish win over the Swedes at the World Championship in five years according to TSN.
Finland got the ball rolling early, taking a 1-0 lead just one minute into the contest. Niko Mikkola scored that goal to set the stage for what would come.
It would be tough sledding before then, though. At 2:06 of the first, the Finns were hit with a too many men on the ice bench minor and Sweden would capitalize on it when John Klingberg scored at 2:38 to tie the game at one.
Sweden took the lead into the second period when Patric Hornqvist potted one by Finnish goalie Kevin Lankinen at the 16:57 mark of the first. That gave the Swedes the 2-1 advantage going into the first intermission.
Coming out of that intermission, it only took 25 seconds for Sweden to grab a two goal lead. Elias Pettersson scored to make it 3-1 and the Swedes seemed to be cruising.
But a Finnish comeback was afoot. At the 5:04 mark of the second, Petteri Lindbohm scored to cut the Swedish lead to 3-2. Then, at 9:08, Jani Hakanpaa netted one to tie the game at three. The Finns just refused to die and had fought back.
Sweden would take a 4-3 lead into the third period when Erik Gustafsson scored with less than thirty seconds to go in the second frame.
And it would remain at 4-3 until late in the third. At 17:55, Lankinen was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. The Finns would then tie it on Marko Anttila’s goal about one and a half minutes later. The goal came under review to make sure that the Finns were onside when they entered the Swedish zone, and everything checked out. It was a good goal. The Finns had hung around and were now about to force overtime against a team that was much better than them on paper.
And they would complete the comeback when, just 1:37 into OT, Sakari Manninen scored to give the Finns the upset victory, 5-4.
Lankinen stopped 14 of the 18 Swedish shots fired at him while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 of 32 Finnish shots. Kaapo Kakko had four shots on goal and was a plus-3 in 18:58 of work spread over 22 shifts. Jesper Bratt had a shot on goal and a minus-1 plus/minus in 9:30 TOI over 14 shifts.
So now we head to the semifinals where the Finns will take on the Russians and the Canadians will face the Czech Republic in the two games to decide the gold medal and bronze medal games. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, May 25.