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World Juniors 2015 recap: Skill disparity evident as Russia scores seven on Switzerland

Switzerland scored five goals against and the Czech Republic on Saturday and looked carry that momentum against a Russian team that narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of Denmark earlier in the tournament.

Dennis Pajot

Russia needed a shootout to defeat Denmark in its first round robin game after the Danes got out to a 2-0 lead on first period powerplay goals. The Russian players seemed unwilling to engage with Denmark physically and allowed the top line of Nikolaj Ehlers, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Mads Eller to cycle the puck in the offensive zone with little resistance.

Russia began their second game versus Switzerland with more attention to the physical game and battled hard with a well-structured Swiss team coming off a 5-2 win to begin the 2015 World Junior Championship.

Both teams traded hits and shots early in the first period, and Switzerland was the first team to cross the line and take the game's first penalty after some good work by the Russian forwards trying to establish themselves in front of the Swiss net. Russia used that powerplay to get on the board as Rushan Rafikov fired a slap shot from near the boards on the blueline past Swiss goaltender Gauthier Descloux.

Switzerland tried to counter immediately afterward, drawing a penalty several moments after the goal, but the skill disparity between the two teams was apparent as Swiss passes constantly went slightly offline, the inaccuracy of breakout plays slowing down transition rushes and allowing Russian defenders to easily fend off attacks.

Near the end of the period, Russia extended the lead to two on an open snap shot from Alexander Dergachyov that Descloux should have been able to stop.

Several moments later Buchnevich received the puck in the offensive slot and got shoved from behind just as he was snapping the shot off, the added momentum ripping the puck over the glove of Descloux for a three-goal lead heading into the second.

Switzerland came out in the middle frame looking desperate to get on the board, firing pucks as soon as they gained the blueline to give Russian netminder Igor Shestyorkin some fairly easy saves. Offensive opportunities were usually one-man efforts as players carried the puck in the offensive zone and tried to do everything themselves, with Kevin Fiala being the guiltiest culprit of the individual play.

About eight minutes into the period, Phil Baltisberger looked for a pass in the slot on an offensive zone rush, where he was hit with a blindside check from Anatoli Golyshev. Golyshev was given a five-minute penalty on the play that required Baltisberger to be stretchered off the ice.

The individual effort remained on the five-minute powerplay, with Switzerland failing to create any dangerous scoring chances with the one-man advantage. Russia took another penalty at the tail end of the major to go down two men, where Switzerland had a few chances to reduce the lead, most notably on a quick passing play from Mirco Müller to Denis Malgin and across the crease to Kevin Fiala, but the imperfection of the final pass caused Fiala to have to settle the puck before the shot, allowing Shestyorkin to get across and make the save.

Once the team's were back to even strength, Russia showed Switzerland how to execute the tic-tac-toe as Vladislav Kamenev passed to Nikolay Goldobin, relaying it across to Sergei Tolchinski who put the Russians up 4-0 on a one-timer.

Two minutes later Alexander Sharov dangled his way by a Swiss defender for Russia's fifth goal.

Switzerland was unable to beat Shestyorkin in the third (although they did get two short-handed shots off the post by Luca Hischier at the very end of the game), while Kamenev and Vyacheslav Leshenko put two late shots by Descloux's third-period replacement Ludovic Waeber for a final score of 7-0.

With the shutout, Shestyorkin made his bid for Russia's next start, a 5PM EST match versus Canadiens' prospect Jacob de la Rose and the 2-0 Team Sweden on Monday. Switzerland will need to employ more of a team offensive approach when it takes on a determined Denmark team on Tuesday, December 30th.