By Josh Ferguson
Ruslan Salei capped off a frenetic closing frame by burying a power play marker with five minutes left in the third to give Belarus a 5-3 victory over Germany at Canada Hockey Place on Saturday.
With Konstantin Zakharov in the box for boarding, Dennis Seidenberg opened the scoring for the Germans 5:39 into the first when he slapped home a cross-crease pass from Marco Sturm to finish off a pretty tic-tac-toe play.
After Aleksei Ugarov knotted the game at one apiece in the first period, Belarus would take the lead in the second on a goal from Aleksei Kalyuzhny. Despite being outshot 24-11, Belarus found themselves with a 2-1 lead through two periods of play.
In the third, the two teams, which had so far been inept in the offensive zone through the first two games of the tournament, exploded for a combined four goals in just more than three minutes of play.
Sergei Kostitsyn, who finished the game with a team-high four points, got it started for Belarus when he used German defender Alexander Sulzer as a screen to beat goaltender Thomas Greiss from the top of the left circle to make it 3-1.
Just 39 seconds later, John Tripp found a loose puck with three Belarusians standing flat-footed in front of their own goal and fired a shot past the outstretched glove of Vitali Koval to make it a one-goal game.
Marcel Goc would tie the game for the Germans only 21 seconds after when he picked up his own rebound from a failed wraparound and beat Koval to cap-off a sequence that saw three goals in exactly one minute.
However, as quickly as the Germans got themselves back into the game, they took themselves right back out of it when Sulzer was called for hooking just more than a minute after his team tied the game.
Belarus capitalized on the opportunity when Salei fired a howitzer through heavy traffic to beat a helpless Greiss. Kalyuzhny would add his second goal of the game late in the third to put the Germans away for good.
The Belarusians certainly benefited from shaking goaltending from Greiss, who only stopped 12 of the 17 shots he faced. Equally crucial to the win for Belarus, however, was the play of Koval at the other end, stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced from a furious German attack.
Belarus (1-2-0-0) picks up three points with the critical win in their final preliminary game to book a qualification game with Switzerland on Tuesday. Because of the loss and goal differential, Germany (0-3-0-0) is ranked 11th and will be sure to meet a tough opponent in their qualification game.