World Juniors 2019 recap & highlights: Alexander Romanov leads Russia to a 4-0 win over resilient Danes
As has become tradition, Denmark once again played Russia to a surprisingly close finish.
After a 14-0 thrashing against Canada, the Danes looked to rebound into respectability against Russia, hoping that Russia's struggles against Denmark, and their tendency to start the tournament slowly would work in their favor.
Denmark opened with a sizzling three chances right off the bat as the Russians left them wide open on their goalie.
Russia settled down after that, holding the offensive zone, and eventually drawing the first power play of the game. Jonas Røndbjerg sprinted in on the short-handed situation, but Vitali Kravtsov made it 1-0 at 6:28 on the advantage.
See #NYR prospect @Kravtsov get the scoring started for 🇷🇺 with his first goal of the #WorldJuniors. pic.twitter.com/cVvjoaXw8O— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 27, 2018
Alexander Romanov was noticeable early on, both wheeling around his own net, and in the offensive zone. He did not get a point on the first goal, but he was involved, helping create good zone entries, among other things.
Things looked pretty bad for the Danes as Røndbjerg headed straight to the locker room coming into the final six minutes of the period, but Denmark responded by getting a couple of shots without him.
William Rorth made a sweeping save after the puck hit a post, and Russia headed to the box on a charging minor shortly thereafter. Jeppe Mogensen had to rush back and break up a short-handed chance, and the power play ended without a shot.
When the period came to an end, Russia led 1-0, out-shooting the Danes only 9-7.
Playing without Røndbjerg in the second, Denmark spent much of the first five minutes in their own end, but limited the Russians to just one shot. Things didn't improve for them though, as two Danes collided, and David Madsen limped off the ice. The Russians thought they'd scored with 13:40 to go in the second, but it was ruled no goal as Rorth was impeded by players in his crease.
Alexander Alexeyev took a boarding call, sending Denmark to the power play, despite being down a couple of forwards (though Madsen returned to play around that time), though they didn't muster a shot.
They got a second chance though, when Nikolai Kovalenko took a two and ten for boarding at 11:49. Denmark had a better power play, holding possession a little more, and picking up a shot, though that was all they could muster.
Ivan Morozov had a terrific chance around the 16 minute mark, as Russia hemmed the Danes in their zone once more for a very long shift, but luck favored them, and the puck flew through the crease and out the other side.
On only their 14th shot of the night, Romanov wired the puck through traffic from the top of the face-off circled to make it 2-0.
#TheTsar BOMBA!!!! #Habs #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/9COY91EajM— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) December 27, 2018
Madsen got hit again as the period headed toward the last minute, but after the buzzer went, the lead remained 2-0, shots 14-9 for Russia.
Brinkman returned for the third, and 42 seconds in, Anderson drew a slashing call, sending Denmark to the power play again. This time they put up two shots, and drew another power play with just three seconds to go. Although they did not score, they evened up shots 14-14 by the five minute mark.
Russia got their second power play on another penalty to Andersen. Rorth made a glorious poke-check on what would have otherwise been an open net, and Denmark returned to full strength without surrendering a shot.
Brinkman kept his feet moving to draw a penalty with 10:39 to go, sending the Danes back to the advantage. They weren't able to capitalize, and took a penalty at 11:37. Russia too failed to pick up a shot on goal on their advantage.
Romanov threw a big shot on net at 13:54, and Pavel Schen got the goal as it redirected off his stick and past Rorth.
Alexander Romanov with some sweet moves and putting the puck towards the net for a tip in. #TheTsar #GoHabsGo #EPR for @HabsEOTP pic.twitter.com/NzQOt0ZXyy— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) December 27, 2018
Alexeyev and Koch took matching penalties, and Olaf Eller took Rorth out for the extra attacker with just over three to go.
Russia got a couple of gimmies on the empty net, but flubbed or were cut off by the Danes. After icing the puck twice, Morozov did eventually hit the empty net with 1:26 to go.
Denmark got one more aborted crack at the advantage with just five seconds to go, and when the final buzzer went, they'd out-shot Russia 20-18, despite the loss.
Despite losing both Røndbjerg for the game and Jonathan Brinkman for much of the second, and Madsen getting shaken up on multiple occasions, Denmark once again proved their resiliency.
In good news for Montreal Canadiens fans, Alexander Romanov looked stellar throughout in his first WJC appearance, not only getting a goal and an assist, but also contributing with hits and in the transition game. He looked very confident, and should only improve as the tournament continues.
Denmark will face Switzerland on Saturday, while Russia will face the Czechs on Friday.