Kucherov, Nikita

European Game Day: 1-10-12

SM-liiga (Finland):
Pelicans 2 @ JYP 4
Riku Helenius, JYP, Win, 28/30, 2.00 GAA, .933 sv%
Season totals: 19 GP, 13-6-0, 6 SO, 1.47 GAA, .937 sv%

In a rare back-to-back start situation, Riku Helenius stopped 28 to help lead JYP to a 4-2 win over Pelicans Lahti. Does this signal that Helenius has moved out of his tandem situation with co-number one Joni Myllykoski? Ex-Lightning forward Eric Perrin had a helper in the victory. JYP faces HIFK next on Friday.

MHL (Russia Jr.):
CSKA Jr. 0 @ Astana Jr. 3
Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr., 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals (MHL): 15 GP, 13-15-28, +8, 24 PIM
Season totals (KHL): 10 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM

Nikita Kucherov took a pair of minors for slashing in CSKA Jr.'s 3-0 loss to Astana Jr. It was the first game back in the lineup for Kucherov and his teammate Nikita Gusev after the U20 WJC's. CSKA Jr. faces Chekhov Jr. next on Thursday.

Nikita Nesterov was not in the lineup today for Chelyabinsk Jr. in their 5-0 loss to Magnitogorsk Jr. Nesterov is likely to return to Chelyabinsk's KHL team when he returns to action following his U20 WJC stint.

KHL Game Day: 1-9-12

KHL (Russia):
Novgorod 7 @ Cherepovets 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Cherepovets, ND, 16/20, 7.75 GAA, .800 sv%
Season totals: 23 GP, 11-8-0, 2 SO, 2.70 GAA, .916 sv%

Ex-Lightning draft pick Ruslan Zainullin had a goal as Novgorod shredded Cherepovets 7-1. Cherepovets draws St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

In the MHL, Nikita Kucherov did not suit up in CSKA Jr.'s 5-4 loss to Astana Jr. The two teams rematch on Tuesday.

European Game Day: 1-7-12

SM-liiga (Finland):
JYP 2 @ Tappara 1
Riku Helenius, JYP, Win, 32/33, 1.00 GAA, .970 sv%
Season totals: 18 GP, 12-6-0, 6 SO, 1.44 GA, .937 sv%

Riku Helenius stopped 32 shots in his first game back from a shoulder injury to lead JYP to a 2-1 lead over Tappara. Ex-Lightning forward Eric Perrin scored JYP's opening goal. JYP draws Pelicans Lahti next on Tuesday.

KHL (Russia):
Mytischi 3 @ Cherepovets 0
Vasily Koshechkin, Cherepovets, DNP
Season totals: 22 GP, 11-8-0, 2 SO, 2.57 GAA, .919 sv%

Vasily Koshechkin did not dress for Cherepovets' 3-0 loss to Mytischi. Ex-NHLer Nikolai Zherdev had a helper in the match for Mytischi. Cherepovets draws Novgorod next on Monday.

Traktor Chelyabinsk's first game since the U20 WJC's is on Monday against Magnitogorsk. We'll see if Nikita Nesterov makes his KHL return in that match. CSKA's next match is against Khabarovsk on Sunday, but in all likelihood Nikita Kucherov will return to CSKA's MHL side. CSKA Jr. returns to action Monday against Astana Jr.

Elitserien (Sweden):
Lulea 1 @ MODO 3
Johan Harju, Lulea, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 12-6-18, +5, 10 PIM

Ex-NHLer Niklas Sundstrom had 1 goal and 1 assist to lead MODO to a 3-1 win over Lulea. Lulea draws Brynas on Thursday.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Ten

Bronze Medal Game
Canada 4 @ Finland 0
Brett Connolly, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 5-1-6, +4, 4 PIM

Coyotes first rounder Mark Visentin stopped all 27 shots he faced to lead Canada to the Bronze Medal in their 4-0 win over Finland. Brett Connolly was held off the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament, but was named one of Canada's three best players in the tournament as selected by the coaches. He'll head back east now to rejoin the Lightning.

Gold Medal Game
Sweden 1 @ Russia 0 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 2-5-7, +4, 2 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 2-3-5, +7, 6 PIM

Ottawa first rounder Mika Zibanejad scored an overtime breakaway goal to earn Sweden its first Gold Medal in 31 years at the U20 World Junior Championships. Lulea netminder Johan Gustafsson, a Wild 6th rounder and a teammate of overage Lightning prospect Johan Harju, made 16 stops for the shutout. Draft eligible Andrei Makarov, who currently plays for Saskatoon in the WHL, stopped an amazing 57 of 58 shots in defeat. Lightning prospects Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov will be eligible to return next season for Team Russia in Ufa at next year's tournament. Nesterov finished tied for 3rd amongst defensemen in scoring and tied for 6th in plus/minus.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Eight

Semifinals
Canada 5 @ Russia 6
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 2-5-7, +5, 2 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 2-3-5, +7, 6 PIM

Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 5-1-6, +4, 4 PIM

In the mother of all Semifinals, Russia streaked out to a 6-1 lead early in the third period, and then held on by a fingernail in the face of 4 unanswered Canadian goals for the 6-5 victory. Nikita Kucherov's tap in goal as the trailer on a 3-on-1 ended up being the game winning goal in the match. Nikita Nesterov also contributed a power play goal for the Russians on a first period one timer from the point that was deflected in off a Canadian defender's stick. Lightning forward Brett Connolly scored the second Lightning prospect goal in the game as the extra attacker on a play where Nikita Nesterov was about to be sent off on a minor penalty. Connolly ripped a short side wrister for the goal that was Canada's only through 40 minutes. The most bizarre move of the match came when Russian coach Valeri Bragin's decided to lift Andrei Vasilevski after he stopped 44 of 49 shots for the Russians, but backup Andrei Makarov stopped 7 of 7 the rest of the way to secure the win, seemingly against all odds.

Connolly looked to be Canada's strongest player in the match. He had what was perhaps Canada's best chance to tie the game on a rebound off a shot that hit the post which he was unable to lift over Makarov's pads. Kucherov had some dangerous moments as a playmaker on what was Russia's de facto second line. He looked to be an extremely creative passer with superlative puckhandling skills that were among the best on display by both teams tonight. Nesterov, for his part, took a late second period penalty for interference that likely wasn't his and looked somewhat outclassed by the Canadians' speed and strength. Still, it's hard to complain about the Lightning prospect hat trick of goals.

Russia moves on to play Sweden in the Gold Medal match on Thursday. Sweden advanced to the Finals with a dramatic 3-2 shootout win over the rival Finns earlier in the night on the strength of a Max Friberg game tying goal with 1:44 left in regulation followed up by Friberg's winning shootout goal. Recall, Friberg scored the game tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation against the Russians in the final game of the Preliminary Round to earn Sweden their bye in the Quarterfinals of the Medal Round. The Ducks fifth rounder is suddenly looking like a living legend for the Swedes.

Canada will play in the Bronze Medal match against the Finns on Thursday, as well.

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