Team Russia has a roster of full of NHL All-Stars, MVPs, and future Hall of Famers. But on Saturday, the Red Machine, in a tightly checked game, fell to Finland 1-0 in the semifinals of the World Championship. Finland will go on to compete for gold while Russia will play for bronze on Sunday.
Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov was named one of the top three players for Russia on the day, though he was on the ice for Finland’s only goal of the game by Marko Anttila.
Anttila, a 6′8″, 33-year-old power forward who plays for Jokerit of the KHL, scored after a broken play off a Russia faceoff win.
After Evgeni Malkin won the puck over to Nikita Zaitsev on the wing, the Leafs defenseman sent a touch pass on his backhand to Orlov who was looking to break out of the zone. A hard-charging Joel Kikiranta appears to have read the play all the way and bore down on Orlov, immediately forcing a turnover for Finland. After a Finnish point shot was blocked by Zaitsev, the Russian couldn’t control the puck and Anttila, Finland’s captain, shot the puck through Andrei Vasilevskiy.
But Orlov’s turnover, which was more the result of some great hustle by Finland and a poor decision by Zaitsev, should not obscure what was an incredible game for the 27-year-old Capitals defenseman.
There were two plays in the third period that illustrated just how dangerous Orlov was on the night.
First, after a turnover by Russia in the offensive zone, Orlov attempted a poke check at the point. He missed, but using his world-class skating, Orlov hustled back into the play and helped force a turnover with Zaitsev. After gathering in the puck, Ory faked going around the net on his backhand, causing a Finnish player to check himself face first into the glass. Um, wow. Orlov then skated the puck up the ice, gained the offensive zone against three Finnish defenders, and attempted a Twister pass into the slot.
A few minutes later, Orlov gathered in a loose puck, and, as his teammates went on a change, he decided to go one-on-five. Orly walked a Finnish player (badly), gained the offensive zone, and fired a shot on net.
Orlov discusses the emotions of such a close loss for @russiahockey #RUSFIN #IIHFWorlds pic.twitter.com/0REb7hDd4S
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 25, 2019
“We disappointed. We have a good team, you know? We wanted to be in the final,” Orlov said after the game to TSN’s Tessa Bonhomme. “Team Finland play great. They play hard all tournament. We know how they can play and try to be smart with the puck. Close game. One goal win the game for them today. Both goalies play great. We could not put the puck in the net. It was a tough loss, but we have one more game tomorrow. We hope we going to be better and win bronze.”
While Orlov praised Finland’s effort, he believed Russia was too cute and did not forecheck hard enough to generate more chances and broken plays in front of the net.
“We still have good chances to score,” Orlov said. “They play deep in the middle of the zone and all five guys come back. Good system team. We know that. We tried to manage the puck sometimes, sometimes too much, too cute, you know? Sometimes you need to get pucks deep and go work. We still need a goal. We have a great team, great offense. We didn’t score a goal (which) is most disappointing for us.”
Orlov played a team-high 21:22 for Russia receiving nearly three more minutes of ice time more than the next closest player. Orlov was credited with only one shot on goal, but his suffocating defense helped keep the game scoreless for over 50 minutes.
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