Russia needs shootout to oust Swiss at world juniors
Nikita Kucherov scores winning goal; Russians to play defending champs Sweden in semifinals
Russia will have to go through last year’s world junior hockey champions to get another shot at a gold medal.
Nikita Kucherov beat Switzerland goalie Melvin Nyffeler on his second attempt in the shootout to lift the Russians to a 4-3 victory in Wednesday’s quarter-final.
Kucherov, who entered the game as Russia’s top scorer at this year’s tournament with three goals and four points, hit the goal post on his first shootout attempt in front of the home crowd in Ufa.
Russia advances to Thursday’s semifinals against Sweden (8 a.m. ET), which downed the Russians 1-0 in overtime in the 2012 final in Alberta on a goal by Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zinbanejad.
The United States will play Canada in Thursday’s other semifinal at 4 a.m. ET after blanking the Czech Republic 7-0 on Wednesday.
Alexander Khokhlachlov, Mikhail Grigorenko and Kucherov scored in regulation for Russia, which improved to 3-1 at this year's tourney.
Kucherov made it 3-3, forcing OT with a power-play goal with 1:39 left in regulation.
Grigorenko, who has 29 goals and 50 points in 30 games this season with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was named player of the game for the Russians. He put his team ahead in the shootout with a pretty deke to his forehand against Nyffeler.
But Alessio Bertaggia answered for Switzerland, beating goalie Andrei Vasilevski blocker side. Bertaggia had another chance to extend the shootout after Kucherov scored but was denied by Vasilevski.
Christof Bertschy, Martin Ness and Sven Andrighetto found the net for the Swiss, who lost once in OT and three times in a shootout after downing Lativa 7-2 in the preliminary round.
Khakhlachyov opened the scoring for Russia with a shot from the right circle on a power play at 6:07. Bertschy equalized with a shorthanded goal at 10:05 after stealing the puck from Russia's defence.
Grigorenko restored Russia's lead, finding the empty net from Kucherov's pass at 29:07, but Ness was quick to profit from another mistake by the host's defence to level at 2-2 less than three minutes later.
Sven Andrighetto, left unmarked in front of the Russia goal, scored from close range to put Switzerland ahead for the first time in the match at 48:57.
In relegation round action Wednesday, Finland beat Germany 8-0 with Ville Pokka and Aleksander Barkov scoring two goals each.
With files from The Associated Press