Top-seeded Team Russia defeated Team Norway today with a score of 5-2 to advance to the semifinals of the World Championship being held in Stockholm. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin joined their national team on the ice for the first time and had an immediate impact, with Ovechkin scoring the first goal of the night and Semin providing two assists.
Ovechkin broke a World Championships pointless streak stretching back through all five games of last year’s tournament, scoring nearly eight minutes into the game. His tally began with teammate Alex Semin going strong to the net with the puck, allowing the Russian superstar to collect a rebound behind Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen. Ovechkin then knocked the puck in when he attempted to center the puck.
After the Capitals packed-up their gear and met with management one final time on breakdown day, the 2011-12 NHL season officially ended. But for a few Caps stars, there is still more hockey to play.
The 2012 World Championships — which are being held in Stockholm and Helsinki this year — began on May 4th while the Capitals started their second round series against the Rangers. The Swedish and Russian national teams, both aware that several of their countries’ best players were still playing in the NHL playoffs, held roster spots open just in case those players’ teams were eliminated.
When the Capitals lost in Game Seven to New York on Saturday, it freed up Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Alex Semin to play for their national teams for a select number of games to end the tournament.
On Tuesday, all three players arrived in Stockholm after a long flight and had an eventful day.
After being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Alex Ovechkin joined Team Russia with hopes of a different outcome at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia. Once again, however, Ovi will began with summer vacation without a championship as Russia fell, 7-4, to the Czech Republic in the Bronze Medal Game. This ends an awful tournament for the Great Eight. After being held scoreless yet again — while registering four shots and being a minus-one — he ends the Worlds with zero points in six games.
Mikael Granlund’s eye-popping goal was all Finland needed to best Russia for the second time this week, but the Finns still plied on while Russia’s offense looked lifeless. The 3-0 loss for Russia ends their chance at gold — they will face the Czech Republic for bronze Sunday at 10:00 AM Eastern Time — while Finland will move onto the championship game against Sweden.
Alex Ovechkin was more of a factor Friday than any other game in the tournament, though unluckily for him, in a negative way. The Great Eight was called for two slashing penalties after poking Finnish goalie Petri Vehanen on multiple occasions, while failing to convert on great chances to score. He finished the game a minus-one while registering five shots on goal and 18:31 of ice time. In five games since joining the team, Ovi has neither scored a goal or tallied an assist. Ouch.
With a thrilling third period comeback against Canada, Team Russia and Alex Ovechkin are off to the semi-finals of the World Championships in Slovakia. Down, 1-0, midway through the final frame, Alexei Kaigorodov converted on a shorthanded breakaway to knot the score. Then, just over three minutes later, the Devils’ 100 million dollar man Ilya Kovalchuk rifled home a one-timer from the slot to give the Russians the lead and send their arch-rival home empty handed. Russia will face Finland, with the winner going to the gold metal game, on Sunday.
Russia, who has lost two straight games and is 3-3 overall in the tournament, has not gelled at any point during their time in Slovakia and has played in five straight one-goal games. The dominant team that had won 27 straight World Championship games last year has not appeared. If they lose against Canada, Russia will be eliminated.
After getting the green light from the Capitals organization on breakdown day, Alex Ovechkin left the United States Friday for the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia. Ovechkin, who had to endure an eight hour flight from DC to Vienna, was then driven by IIHF representatives to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, just in time for a noon practice at Orange Stadium. He had almost no break.
Thanks to our friend Dmitry, we have some leftover photos from the World Championships of Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov via the tricky Russian Internets. Most of these pictures are from a happier time: either practice or at an instance when wearing ripped jeans was absolutely necessary. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Alex Semin cries after receiving his silver medal.
Today, Russia’s 27 game World Championships winning streak came to a devastating end in a post-olympic rematch against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. And much like the match in the Olympics earlier in the year, the pivotal play of today’s World Championships gold medal game was a huge Alex Ovechkin hit. But this time, it was the Russian Machine accidentally laying out and injuring one of his own teammates, Sergei Fedorov (above), which led to Tomas Rolinek’s game winning goal in the second period. Riding stellar goaltending from Tomas Vokoun and an incredible team defense, the Czechs took a 2 goal lead into the third period that they would never relinquish. Our beloved Ruskies fall to the Czech Republic 2-1. Silver has never tasted so bitter.
Like one would expect, the Russians came out and played with fire. But much like the Canadiens/Capitals series, most of Russia’s chances came from the perimeter. And the Czechs waited and pounced on any mistakes Russia made. A sense of real urgency only revealed itself towards the end of the third period. And by then it was too late for Russia.