There will be no repeat gold medal for the United States at the World Junior Championships.
The U.S. fell to Russia, 7-2, before 9,024 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena Sunday. The game was knotted midway through the second period, before the Russians broke out for five unanswered goals to take the win.
During a five-goal first period that saw four goals scored on special teams, Russia took an early lead when Enver Lisin redirected an Alexander Ovechkin slapshot less than two minutes in. Approximately three minutes later, Ovechkin upped the Russian lead to two with a second power-play goal from the hash marks.
“We were playing a very good team.” U.S. head coach Scott Sandelin said. “We spent a lot of time in the penalty box and that made it very difficult to get any kind of flow going. That’s not what you want to do against that kind of team.”
The U.S. evened the tilt when Robbie Schremp and Patrick O’Sullivan took advantage of a pair of Russian penalties. Schremp struck first when his slapshot from the point bounced off Russian goalie Anton Khudobin’s pad and trickled over the line. With Russia back in the box at 14:44, O’Sullivan converted on a hard one-timer from the top of the circle for the 2-2 tie.
The Russians, however, regained the advantage at 16:01 when Sergei Shirokov went top shelf for a 3-2 edge.
The score remained the same as the teams exchanged scoring chances until 11:03 of the third, when Malkin notched his second of the night, scoring low to the stick side for a 4-2 lead. Ovechkin and Malkin sealed the win with a pair of empty-netters as time ran out in the final stanza.
U.S. goalie Al Montoya of Michigan faced 43 shots in the loss.
The U.S. will play the Czech Republic for the bronze medal on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 3:05 p.m. CST. Canada and Russia will battle for the gold medal that evening.