OTTAWA – It was only a matter of time before Russian sniper Nikita Filatov started filling the net at the world junior hockey championship.
Filatov scored his first two goals of the tournament Sunday as Russia stayed undefeated with a 5-2 win over Finland.
Russia (2-0-0), which beat Latvia 4-1 on Friday, has six points in the three-point scoring system. Finland, meanwhile, is 0-2-0 following two regulation losses in Group B play.
“I just tried to play hard and I was just luckier than in the game against Latvia,” said Filatov, who is on loan from the Columbus Blue Jackets for the tournament.
“I had chances but I wasn’t lucky, so it’s always nice to get that first goal.”
Dmitri Klopov had two goals and an assist while linemate Evgeni Dadonov had a goal and two assists for Russia. Nikita Klyukin added three assists.
Danila Alistratov made 12 saves for the win.
In other results, Sweden beat Slovakia 3-1, while the United States edged the Czech Republic 4-3.
Jani Lajunen and Joonas Nattinen scored for Finland, who were outshot 28-14. Harri Sateri did his best in the Finland goal to keep his team in the game, but it was Nattinen who picked up player-of-the-game honours for Finland.
Filatov was the Russian player of the game.
“We weren’t hungry enough. We have to shoot more and play better offensively and that’s the only way we can be successful,” Nattinen said.
The Finns lost 3-1 to Sweden on Friday.
The score could have been much worse had Russia had a touch more accuracy. Klopov scored with less than two minutes remaining for the only goal of the third period but the Russians hit two crossbars that could have put the game out of reach earlier.
The Finns were able to skate with the Russians through the first half of the game, despite what the stats were saying. They were hitting hard and moving the puck but were tentative and seemed to offer the Russians too much respect.
In the second half of the second period though, the Russians took control.
Lajunen opened the scoring and gave Finland a 1-0 lead at 5:10 of the opening period, but Russia responded with three goals before the end of the frame for a 3-1 lead.
Filatov scored the first of his two goals to tie the game at 7:56 and just 38 seconds later Dadonov gave the Russians their first lead of the game. Klopov put the Russians ahead 3-1 at 11:29.
“It was a pretty tough game. They got a fast goal but we responded pretty quick and then got two more goals. Then we really started to play better and we were really dominating,” Filatov said. “We just have to play better and better and try to progress and I think we can do that.”
Nattinen scored a power-play goal at 3:55 of the second period, cutting the lead to 3-2, but that was one of just three shots Finland had in the second period following a four-shot performance in the first.
Six minutes after that goal Filatov put Russia up 4-2 as he fired a slapshot past Sateri from the slot.
The Russians will face Slovakia on Tuesday while Finland will play Latvia later that day.
Both teams will close out the preliminary round of the tournament with games Wednesday.
The tournament takes a break on New Year’s Day and will open the playoff and relegation rounds on Friday.