REGINA – The Finns may have tired Igor Bobkov out, but they couldn’t beat him.
Bobkov made 46 stops, including 23 in the third period, as Russia blanked Finland 2-0 in world junior hockey championship Group B action Monday. “I am very tired,” Bobkov said after the game through a translator.
“Hard game. I am tired. Especially the third period.”
No translation was needed when Russian head coach Vladimir Plyushchev was asked to comment on Bobkov’s game.
Nikita Filatov led Russia (2-0) offensively with a goal and an assist.
Filatov, who played in 13 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets this year before leaving to play with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, was named player of the game for his efforts.
But many of the 5,675 in attendance at Regina’s Brandt Centre, including Filatov himself, felt Bobkov was the one who stole the show this night.
“He was unbelievable,” Filatov said. “He was the best player of the game, no doubt.”
Russia opened the scoring near the middle of a fast-paced first period as Filatov sent a pass from the left wing half wall through a crowd and right onto the stick of Petr Khokhriakov for an easy tip in.
At the other end, the six-foot-four Bobkov made several dazzling saves and robbed Eero Elo from in close with under a minute left in the first. Russia led 1-0 after 20 minutes despite being outshot 12-8.
Midway through the second, Chudinov and Filatov teamed up again to make it a 2-0 game. With Kristian Nakyva in penalty the holding, Chudinov fed Filatov at the point and for a one-time slapshot.
The quick pace and hard hitting carried over into the second period, including a devastating hit by Russia’s Yevgeni Timkin on Jere Sallinen at the Russian blue-line. Sallinen, caught with his head down, was slow to get up and appeared dazed as he wobbled to his bench.
Sallinen, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, did not return to the game. Finland head coach Hannu Jortikka said Sallinen’s condition is unknown.
“I don’t know his situation but maybe he won’t come back and play next game. That is bad because we have a few other injuries,” Jortikka said.
A few shifts later, Finland’s Jasse Ikonen retaliated by hammering Timkin into the boards from behind, resulting in a cross-checking penalty and a misconduct.
Amidst the rough stuff, Bobkov frustrated the Finns (1-1) with 23 saves in the first two periods.
Bobkov stopped 23 more shots in the third, many of which were on power play opportunities.
The Russians’ next game is Tuesday against Sweden while Finland gets a day off before meeting Austria on Wednesday.