The Russian team was desperate to atone for another disappointing Olympic defeat, and were successful, beating the Czech Republic 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Canada Hockey Place.
With the victory, Russia clinched first place in Group B and earned a trip directly to the quarter finals.
Neither team had surrendered a first-period goal in the tournament until Russia’s Evgeni Malkin scored on the power play at 15:13 to break the trend.
This was only Russia’s second power-play goal in the tournament having gone 1-for-13.
After Russia lost to the Slovaks 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday, Malkin replaced the Detroit Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk on the top line along side Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammate Alex Semin.
The change paid off as Malkin had two goals and one assist while Ovechkin had two assists in the game.
Konstantin Korneyev and Sergei Federov took tripping penalties at 18:07 and 18:20 respectively to give the Czechs a 5-on-3 to close out the first.
Tomas Plekanec capitalized at 19:06 scoring a gorgeous goal, spinning, and putting the puck top shelf over the shoulder of Tomas Vokoun. It was his third goal of the tournament.
There was some controversy in the second period after referee Dan O’Halloran blew an early whistle that lead to a Czech goal being disallowed. After review it appeared that the proper call was made.
Russia took a 2-1 lead at 14:34 of the second when 35-year-old Viktor Kozlov scored off of a scrum in front of the net.
“I think we could play a little better and we don’t have enough shots at the net, we need to start shooting the puck more. We still have a long 20-minutes ahead of us,” Czech winger Martin Havlat told CTV after being down 2-1 at the second intermission.
Jaromir Jagr got rocked by Ovechkin in the neutral zone with his head down which led to Malkin scoring his second goal of the game and the eventual game winner off a pass from Semin at 1:49 of the third.
This was the first game that Jagr was held goal-less.
“It’s going to be special because they’re one of the favourites,” Jagr told the Associated Press of Russia. “Sometimes you want easy games. But once you retire, you’re going to remember those games and moments.”
Milan Michalek scored at 14:51 to bring the Czech within one, but Russia’s Pavel Datsyuk added an empty-net goal with ten seconds left to seal the victory.