Belarus holds off Germany 5-3, avoid big guns in playoffs

The exploits of Sergei Kostitsyn helped Belarus survive a wild third period in defeating Germany 5-3, Saturday night at Canada Hockey Place.

Kostitsyn assisted on three goals and scored one on way to a four point night. He added solid back-checking to play a complete two-way game helping the Belarusians top line defeat the German NHL line.

Belarus was up 2-1 at the beginning of the third period despite being outshot 24-11, as net minder Vitali Koval kept his team ahead.

With half the period gone by and no scoring chances the floodgates would open and an astounding three goals would be scored within a minute.

The first came from Kostitsyn, a wrist shot over the goaltenders shoulder, giving Belarus a 3-1 edge.

Not to be out done the Germans answered within 39 second on John Tripps goal, 3-2. By the time the scorers were announced the Germans had completed the comeback.

Just 21 seconds after the Tripp goal at the 12:10 mark, Nashville Predator Marcel Goc, would score after picking up a rebound on his wrap around attempt.

With the momentum swinging like a pendulum the Germans were due for another downward swing and it begun with a penalty. Defenceman Alexander Sulzer took a hooking penalty with 6:48 to go in the game.

It led to a power-play goal by Salei Ruslan, getting a screen to slip a shot past German goaltender Thomas Greiss, and giving Belarus the lead 4-3. They did not squander the advantage again as Aleksei Kalyuzhny added the final goal with 1:15 to go in the game.

With the win the Belarusian’s move to the ninth place and avoid a pairing with a top ranked team in the preliminary playoff round. The Germans will face the loser from one of Sunday’s super match-up losers.

Belarus controlled the early going by creating a number of scoring chances and as well as momentum. That was until Konstantin Zakharov took a boarding penalty and gave Germany the man advantage at the 14:34 mark.

It didn’t take long for Germany to capitalize on the situation, as Florida Panther Dennis Seidenberg scored after a nice sequence of passes. The goal came a mere 13 second into the power play. Marco Sturm and Marcel Goc assisted the 1-0.

The German’s must have felt relieved as it was their first goal of the tournament, after being shutout in the previous two games.

At the midway point, the German’s looked to add to their lead, aggressively coming to the net. Their aggressive pursuit would be foiled by Aleksei Ugarov, who got the loose punk and broke ahead of the defence.

He hold off the defender and scored a nice backhander past the goalie, with 10:43 gone in the opening period.

Closing out the first period, Germany managed to create 10 shots while Belarus got six. Both teams made mistakes but played an entertaining first stanza tied 1-1.

To open the second period the German’s looked to be pressing the issue. Within the first five minutes they had accumulated seven shots but couldn’t put the puck in the net.

Ugarov took a hooking penalty at the 14:38 mark, giving the German’s a power play opportunity.

Belarus not only killed off the penalty but stole all of the momentum Germany had been garnering in the period.

Belarusian forward Alexksei Sulzer scored 8:36 into the second while streaking in from the right, cutting across the ice, waiting out defenders, getting the goalie to go down and finally shooting it up high, 2-1.

Shots on net did not tell how this game played out as Belarus was out shot by over 20, 40-to-17. The power play would play a factor as Belarus scored the go ahead goal on the power play going 1-for-4, while Germany was 1-for-3.