Filatov leads Russians to world junior bronze
Nikita Filatov scored his seventh and eighth goals of the world junior hockey tournament Monday, leading Russia to a 5-2 win over Slovakia in the bronze-medal game in Ottawa.
Filatov's effort moved the Columbus Blue Jackets' draft pick into a tie with Canada's John Tavares for the tournament lead in goals.
Canada is trying to win its fifth consecutive gold medal against Sweden on Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET).
Russia's post-game celebration was extremely low-key and Filatov admitted much of it had to do with Saturday's heart-breaking 6-5 semifinal loss to Canada.
"Of course we're happy to win a bronze medal," said Filatov. "I think we were still thinking about the final. Our game was far from perfect and even bad at times.
"It was really difficult for all of us to move forward. The game against Canada is still in our head. We were so close."
Came close to gold
Defenceman Dmitri Kulikov said the players were happy with the bronze but would always think about how close they came to playing for gold.
"It's still so hard. We wanted to play for gold," said Kulikov. "This game doesn't really matter for us."
The speedy Filatov dazzled on both his goals. With Russia clinging to a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the second period, he rushed into the Slovak zone, pounced on his own blocked shot and hammered it past goalie Jaroslav Janus.
Filatov put the game away midway through the third with an even better effort. After blocking Jan Brejcak's shot, Filatov stripped the defenceman of the puck in the neutral zone, went in alone and snapped a shot past Janus's glove to make it 4-1.
Pavel Chernov and Maxim Goncharov also scored for Russia, and Dmitri Kugryshev added an empty-netter with under two minutes left to seal the deal.
Vadim Alistratov made 20 saves to assure the Russians of their second straight bronze medal at the annual competition. Russia took silver the three previous years, losing in the final to Canada each time.
Proud to finish 4th
For the Slovaks, who fell 8-1 to Russia in the preliminary round, a fourth-place finish was a huge accomplishment.
"We're very happy to get as far as we did," said Tomas Tatar. "The people in Slovakia will be elated with us finishing fourth."
Slovakia finished the tournament with a 3-4 record, but the players feel they could have even done better.
"We were so close to being better," said Tatar. "It's a bit frustrating that we had a chance for a medal, but couldn't do it."
Martin Stajnoch and Tatar scored for Slovakia. Janus followed up his 47-save effort in the semifinals against Sweden with 20 stops.
Despite a 3-4 record, the undrafted 19-year-old was one of the tournament's stars, having allowed 21 goals on 190 shots. Only Latvia faced more shots with 232.
"I like facing a lot of shots," said Janus, who plays for the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters. "I think it was a good experience. I'm pretty happy with how I played at the tournament."
Janus said Slovakia's fourth-place finish will go a long way in helping develop younger players.
"I think hockey will really go up in Slovakia," said Janus. "Kids will be more excited to play because we showed we can compete against some of the bigger countries."
The Slovaks were trying for their second-ever medal at the world juniors. They took bronze in 1999 in Winnipeg.
With files from the Canadian Press