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World Cup Game Preview

Team Russia needs win to reach semifinals

Loss to Team Finland would allow Team North America to advance from Group B

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer


Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Thursday, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, TVA Sports)


What's at Stake:

Team Russia (1-1-0) needs a win to advance to the semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Team Finland (0-2-0) was eliminated from contention with Team North America's 4-3 overtime win against Team Sweden on Wednesday. Finland defeated Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and in the semifinals of this year's World Championship.


Team Russia:

After a 2-1 loss to Team Sweden in its World Cup opener, Team Russia rebounded with a 4-3 win against Team North America on Monday. Team Russia scored four times during a span of 6:14 in the second period to go ahead 4-1 and held on in the third period with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky finishing with 43 saves. Bobrovsky, who has stopped 70 of 75 shots in the tournament, will start for the third consecutive game. Defenseman Nikita Nesterov will be a healthy scratch for the third game in a row. There was some concern about center Pavel Datsyuk after the 38-year-old left practice Wednesday with what assistant coach Harijs Vitolinsh called a small injury, but Vitolinsh said he was hopeful Datsyuk would be able to play. Team Russia tweaked its lines again Wednesday with left wing Artemi Panarin moving up to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Nikolay Kulemin, and Nikita Kucherov moving down the third line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladislav Namestnikov. Team Russia is 0-for-6 on the power play. "We just have to win the game," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "It doesn't matter how."


Team Finland:

Coach Lauri Marjamaki did not announce his lineup, but it is likely Tuukka Rask will be in goal. Rask made 28 saves in a 2-0 loss to Team Sweden on Tuesday. It also appears forward Teuvo Teravainen and defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka will remain in the lineup after entering it Tuesday. "The style that we played Tuesday is the style we need now, and we have to understand that we have to keep going and maybe get a little better," Marjamaki said. Teravainen was among the most dangerous forwards against Team Sweden and moved up the forward lines after starting with the fourth unit. "He's so fresh and such a skilled guy that can handle the puck," Marjamaki said. "We need some scoring, and I think Teravainen is one of [the scorers]."


Keep Your Eye On:

Team Finland right wing Patrik Laine, who was selected No. 2 by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 NHL Draft, grew up idolizing Ovechkin and trying to copy his physical style. Laine didn't score in the first two games but was dangerous. Ovechkin has a goal and an assist.


They Said It:

"It's tough because we lost the first game and we can't lose again. It's so tough. You can't lose. You can feel frustrated, but for every team, it's the same rules." -- Team Russia center Evgeni Malki

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