Jan 2, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
Nikita Kucherov provided the dramatics as Russia avoided a major upset at the 2013 World Junior Championships on Wednesday, defeating Switzerland 4-3 in a shootout.
Kucherov, Tampa Bay’s second-round selection at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, scored the game-tying tally with less than two minutes remaining, then potted the shootout winner to send the Russians through to the semifinals.
The hosts were playing in front of a partisan crowd in Ufa, but that didn’t seem to faze the Swiss team in the slightest.
Switzerland twice rallied from one-goal deficits and looked to have pulled the stunner of the tourney when Sven Andrighetto scored midway through the third to give his club a 3-2 lead.
But then came Kucherov’s heroics.
The Lightning prospect has been outstanding for Russia throughout the tournament — he now has four goals in five games and the team scoring lead — and was incredibly clutch against the Swiss.
In addition to his late goal and shootout winner, Kucherov assisted on Mikhail Grigorenko’s second-period tally for his sixth point of the tournament, the most of any Russian player.
With the win, Russia will now face Sweden in one semifinal while the U.S. will take on Canada in the other.
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