In what turned out to be the first marquee game of the World Junior Championships, it would be Team Russia and its defense holding strong and taking out Team USA, 2-1.
With all the stars on the ice for both teams, it would be Russian goalie, and Buffalo Sabres prospect, Andrey Makarov shining brightest stopping 41 shots and frustrating Team USA’s shooters all game.
When it wasn’t Makarov stopping them in goal, it was Russia’s skaters taking time and space away from the Americans and blocking shots. Even in the closing minutes, Nail Yakupov sprawled out head-first to get in front of a shot. (Bet the Oilers loved seeing that.)
Jacob Trouba had Team USA’s lone goal on the power play in the second period. John Gibson stopped 28 shots in the loss.
After the game, Team USA coach Phil Housley told NHL Network’s Rob Simpson he was happy with his team’s effort but thought they may have gotten “too cute” at times. Doing that helped nullify rushes up ice and ended threats before they could begin.
With the regulation loss, Team USA now heads into their game against Team Canada on Sunday needing to get points in one way or another. After Canada disposed of Slovakia earlier today, they moved to the top of Group B with six points. Russia sits in second place with five while Team USA is third with three. With Slovakia in fourth with one point, further American losses put them in danger of being jumped in the standings.
Sweden edged Switzerland 3-2 in a shootout. Habs prospect Sebastian Collberg and Hurricanes prospect Victor Rask each had goals for the Swedes.
Czech Republic upset Finland 3-1. Kings prospect Tomas Hyka scored for the Czechs while Teuvo Teravainen had Finland’s lone tally.