Russian men to hockey quarters, but concerns loom

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Russia got the job done on Tuesday, but it was far from perfect.

The Russians beat Norway 4-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome to secure their spot in the quarterfinals, but the final score was somewhat cosmetic — Russia led 2-0 with 67 seconds remaining before netting a pair of goals, one into an empty net.

For a large portion of the game, the main storyline was Russia’s inability to finish.

Prior to Alexander Radulov’s opening tally at the 4:12 mark of the second period, Russia had gone over 100 minutes without scoring a goal –  a stretch that saw the Russians go 0-for-6 on the power play (five missed opportunities against Slovakia, one against Norway.) All told, they’re now 2-for-16 with the man advantage this tournament, an issue that continues to get larger and larger with each passing game.

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“I don’t know what to say,” defenseman Andrei Markov said. “We try do different combination. We try do different plays. But the puck doesn’t go there. Hopefully it’s going to start working tomorrow. We still have to be better. We’re probably going to adjust something. Have to be better tomorrow.”

Thankfully for Russia, the Radulov-Pavel Datsyuk-Ilya Kovalchuk line picked up the slack.

The trio, which has carried Russians throughout this tourney, combined for seven points against Norway. Radulov notched the game-winner and aforementioned empty-netter while Datsyuk assisted on the first three tallies of the game — which went Radulov, Kovalchuk, Radulov — before Alexei Tereshenko scored Russia’s fourth goal with 40 seconds remaining.

Even with that stellar performance in the books, Datsyuk lamented his team’s lack of PP success after the game.

For Norway, the loss caps off what — outside of a gritty 3-1 loss to Canada in the opener — was mostly a disappointing Olympics. The team lost all four of its games, scored just two goals and lost the services of its lone NHLer, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, to an arm injury prior to the Russia game. The loss also means Norway will finish 12th at the Olympics, two spots lower than it did four years ago in Vancouver.

The Russians will now take on Finland in the quarterfinals in what promises to be a quality tilt.

“They have a good team,” Markov said of the Finns. “They’re skating well. They play a good defensive game. It’s not going to be easy. It’s the Olympics. Every game is a big challenge.”