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World Juniors: Bolts prospect clutch as Russia avoids upset

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.

Related: World Juniors: Team USA blanks Czech Republic 7-0

  1. travishenryskid - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Grigorenko and Kucherov have carried this Russian team. Yakupov needs to get his head out of his ***. He’s been awful and does not currently resemble anything close to the best prospect on earth, let alone his own team. You have to think some teams are kicking themselves for passing on Grigorenko.

    • elemeno89 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      and the sabres are thanking them personally. all kidding aside, i agree with you about yakupov. he seems to be having a hard time showing any semblance of talent that was touted before the draft. granted i know its a tougher tournament with a higher level of competition, but still, its odd to see him not even get an A every once and a while.

  2. broadstbully33 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    If nail can’t produce in juniors tourney how will he handle the NHL ESP since edm is stacked with young talent who will most certainly out shine him.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      The knock on Yakupov before the draft was that he tries to do too much while not using his linemates enough and that’s what we’re seeing here. He won’t need to play that way in a talented Edmonton lineup so he better make the adjustment or he could wind up being a big disappointment for them.

      • danphipps01 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        No kidding. I really wonder if the kid has the capacity to handle being only the third- or fourth-best forward on a team.

  3. broadstbully33 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    No doubt the kid has skill but no teammates likes a selfish player and so far that is all I’ve seen from him. I like him I would have drafted him 1st overall but now I’m not so sure.

  4. gotampabay52 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Go Bolts……..

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