Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty
After their heartbreaking shootout loss to the United States a day earlier, Team Russia was back on the ice on Sunday hoping to finish off their preliminary schedule on a high note against a winless Slovakia squad. But if fans were looking for excitement, they would have been very disappointed from this contest.
After Sergei Bobrovsky played his heart out against Team USA on Saturday, Semyon Varlamov returned to the crease on Sunday. As for Slovakia, they gave third-stringer Jan Laco his first start of this tournament. At 0-2-0, the Slovakians really had nothing to lose as they had already been eliminated from advancing to the medal round.
Speaking of Laco, he put on a performance for the ages. The KHL backup was an emergency starter and shone, making 36 saves forcing overtime and then a shootout.
While the Russians may not have been thrilled about participating in a shootout twice in as many days, they could certainly take solace knowing that the latter wasn't a marathon.
Entering the shootout, Semyon Varlamov stopped all 27 shots he faced and remained strong, stopping both Slovak attempts in the shootout. For the Russians, Alex Radulov scored first and then Ilya Kovalchuk sealed the victory with a goal. The Russians win 1-0.
After his comments yesterday about NHL teammate Jonathan Quick, Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was ineffective in this one. Then again, most players from both sides were.
With the win, Team Russia finished second in Group A. Whether or not they receive a bye into the quarter-finals or if they have to play a qualifying game remains to be seen. That will depend on the outcome in today's Canada/Finland matchup.