Euro Hockey tour leaders, Russia, needed a penalty shootout to top Finland in the opening game of the Swedish Games on home ice in Saint Petersburg.
It was all Finland in the opening period, with Juhamatti Aaltonen scoring a brace to give the visitors a 0-2 lead.
The packed St Pete’s Ice Palace sent Russia forward in the second 20 minutes as Anton Belov got a goal back.
The Russians put Finland under even more pressure in the third period, equalizing through Aleksandr Perezhogin in the 45th minute.
And five minutes later the hosts, finally went in front, with Vadim Shipachev capitalizing on a great pass from Aleksandr Radulov, 3-2.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s charges looked heading for the win, but the Finns came up with a shock equalizer with 36 seconds left on the clock.
Russia were on powerplay when one of the defenders gifted the puck to Aaltonen, who completed his hat-trick, 3-3.
The hosts were the better side in overtime, but Finish keeper, Atte Engren, stood firm in goal.
The game went to shootout, in which luck favored the Russian, with Viktor Tikhonov scoring his team’s winner.
“We were far from perfect in the first period,” Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, Russia’s coach, told Sport-Express newspaper. “But then we managed to adjust to their speed and started looking better. But there’s still plenty of things to improve.”
Team Russia remain on top of Euro Tour standings, with 15 points after seven games.
The other three participants of the competition – Finland, Sweden and Czech Republic – are level on 9 points, with the Swedes and Czechs having a game in hand.
Next on the Russian players minds will be the clashes against Sweden on Saturday, followed by the Czech Republic on Sunday.
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