Plyuschev finally solves the FinnsSergei Krivokrasov scores in OT (photo (c)

FEB.7 -- It's finally happened! Led by Sergei Krivokrasov's two goals Team Russia managed to defeat Hanu Aravirta's squad in Euro-Tour competition - for the first time this season.

Finland defeated Vladimir Plyuschev's squad in overtime in Prague last September 1-0. Than hammered them in Helsinki 5-0 during the Karjala Cup in November, inflicting Plyuschev with the most embarrassing defeat in his yet short career behind the bench of the National squad. Finally last December the boys from Suomi beat Russians on their ice in Moscow at the Baltica Brewery Cup.

Last night's win keeps Russia in the battle for the Euro-Tour title. Finland remains ahead by five points with one more game left to play, on Sunday against Sweden. Meantime Russia has two games remaining and they have to win both of them and hope as well for the Tre Kronor to defeat the Finns.

Plyuschev brought a few changes to his line-up. Egor Podomatsky replaced Andrei Tsarev in goal. Freshly arrived from Yaroslavl Denis Grebeshkov completed Russia's fourth defensive unit with Vladimir Malenkikh, who was scratched for the game against Canada. CSKA Moscow forward Alexander Polushin replaced in the line-up Ivan Tkachenko. Plyuschev also juggled with his forward line combinations moving Igor Grigorenko and Alexander Suglobov on the top and second unit respectively. While Polushin took Suglobov's place on the line with Alexei Tereschenko and Sergei Soin.

Following an eventless first period, teams exchanged goals in the second. First Krivokrasov beat Ari Sulander from a close range at 7:46. Than Sami Torkki leveled the score during a power-play.

Halfway trough the third period Finland went ahead on Marko Kiprusoff's power play tally. Ex-Hab beat Podomatsky with a point shot.

It looked like Finland was heading for another win over Russia, when New Jersey Devil's prospect Suglobov took a wild shot at Ari Sulander's net from the neutral zone. 34-year old veteran was cut napping, as the puck slipped past him in the net. The goal, by the way, was Suglobov's fourth in his last six games for the National side. He has just one in 14 contests for RSL's Yaroslavl and Nizhnekamsk this season.

The game went into overtime and it took Russia's top unit just 19 seconds to get the goal. Sergei Vyshedkevich entered the zone and took a hard shot at Sulander, while Krivokrasov back-handed the rebound in.

"It was quite an important victory for us. We finally beat (Finland) after all those losses," - said Vladimir Plyuschev after the game.

Russia's next contest is against Sweden on Saturday.

Game summary:

FINLAND - RUSSIA  2-3 (0-0, 1-1, 1-1, 0-1)

RUSSIA: Podomatsky. Vyshedkevich (+3/3) - Skopintsev (+3/0), Erofeev (0/2) - Proshkin (0/2), Gusev (0/1) - Turkovsky (0/0), Grebeshkov (0/1) - Malenkikh (0/0). Krivokrasov (+2/3) - Chupin (+2/2) - Grigorenko (+1/1), Antipov (0/0) - Zinoviev (+1/2) - Suglobov (+1/4), Polushin (0/1) - Tereschenko (0/1) - Soin (0/1), Bernikov (0/0) - Trubachev (+1/2) - Perezhogin (0/0).

First period:
Penalties: Torkki FIN (cross-check) 2:08. Chupin RUS (interference) 10:09. Luoma FIN (interference) 18:02.
Second period:
0-1 RUS  7:46  Krivokrasov,1
1-1 FIN 11:44  Torkki (Voutilainen)  (pp)
Penalties: Suglobov RUS (slashing) 1:39. FIN bench (tto many men) 3:00. Grigorenko RUS (tripping) 10:12. Kuhta FIN (interference) 13:02. Pirnes FIN (hooking) 13:45. Malenkikh RUS (interference) 17:27.
Third period:
2-1 FIN  8:19  Kiprusoff (Ylönen, Lind) (pp)
2-2 RUS 16:55  Suglobov,2 (Zinoviev)
Penalty: Erofeev RUS (hooking) 7:20.
2-3 RUS  0:19  Krivokrasov,2 (Vyshedkevich)

Goaltenders: Sulander 23/26 - Podomatsky (W,1-0-0) 18/20.

FIN   4  6 10 0 -- 20
RUS   6 10  8 2 -- 26

Power play: Finland 2/5, Russia 0/4.
February 6. Stockholm. Glöbe Arena. A - 1,156.

RSB (C) 2003