Yevgeni Kuznetsov exploded for 9 points Thursday night as Russia pounded Latvia by a pair of touchdowns. The Capitals prospect scored or set up 6 straight goals in a 13:36 span. The 3 goal, 6 assist outburst vaults Kusnetsov into a tie for the tournament scoring lead with teammate Nikita Gusev. Until Thursday night Kuznetsov had been held pointless in Russia's first two games but had piled up the shots.
The two Russians now sit ahead of a trio of Canadians in Ryan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Stone who all have 7 points. Stone leads the tournament with 6 goals. This one was 1-0 after one with the Russians outshooting Latvia 17-8. In the end the shot totals were 50-30 Russia.
However Russia has to be concerned that star forward Mikhail Grigorenko left the game under duress.
The potential first overall pick in June collided with an opponent and left the game in the second period. Aaron Vickers had this post game reaction from Russian Head Coach Valeri Bragin.
"There was an injury around the ankle,....We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."The 17 year old was more then holding his own with 2 goals, 2 assists in the 2 and a half games he played and despite a very skilled line up, his absence will be felt.
Like Canada, Russia has a decision to make on which goalie they ride in the medal round. Andrei Vasilevski has yet to give up a goal in 2 games and made 30 saves in a 14-0 win. While Andrei Makarov made 31 saves in a 3-1 over Slovakia Wednesday night.
I expect them to go with Makarov over the 17 year old Vasilevski when they take on Sweden Saturday night.