Russia avoids disaster with OT win over Slovakia
Albert Yarullin scored with 10 seconds remaining in overtime to give Russia a thrilling 3-2 win and avoid a potential disaster, as Slovakia rallied from a 2-0 deficit -- with the equalizer coming in the final minute -- to force the extra session.
Nikita Kucherov got the host Russians on the board first, breaking over the line -- seemingly offside, but not called -- with Mikhail Grigorenko who darted a pass from the bottom of the circle back to Kucherov for the one-time finish.
There would be no more scoring until the game was nearing it's midpoint when a Slovakia turnover in the neutral zone ignited a quick Russian transition, as Andrei Sigaryov sent Alexander Khokhlachev in all alone who snapped the puck past Adam Nagy.
Slovakia was able to pull one back late in the period with Matus Matis digging the puck out from behind the Russian goal and while Tomas Mikus' centring pass was deflected, it end up right on the stick of Matis who chipped it home.
Russia had a golden opportunity to restore their two-goal edge around the 7:20 mark of the third period when an odd man rush gave Grigorenko an open shot from the slot, but Nagy was there to turn it aside.
With just under five minutes remaining in the third period, Russia was called for too many men on the ice but managed to kill off the penalty.
They would not be so lucky later on.
When Maxim Shalunov was sent off on a double minor for a high stick, it allowed Slovakia the chance to finish regulation with the man advantage and they struck with 36 seconds remaining, as Richard Mraz was able to bang home a rebound from the doorstep.
Early in overtime, Slovakia were still on the power play, but Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski -- who turned aside 32 of the 34 shots he faced -- made three or four big saves.
With a shootout looming, Russia went on the power play with 15 seconds remaining knowing they would have a chance to close the proceedings with an offensive zone face-off.
After Grigorenko won the draw, Nikita Nesterov walked in from the blue line and zipped a pass to Yarullin who stepped into a slap shot beating Nagy high on the glove side for the walk-off win.