ST. PAUL, Minn. Alex Kovalev scored the winning goal and minor-league goaltender Illya Bryzgalov held his own against the American stars as Russia beat the United States 3-1 Thursday night in the World Cup of Hockey.
Bryzgalov, property of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, had 20 saves, and Dainius Zubrus and Viktor Kozlov also scored for Russia, which dealt Team USA its second consecutive loss. The Americans, 0-2 in the tournament, lost to Canada 2-1 on Tuesday night in Montreal.
A handful of Russian fans, some wearing old Soviet Union jerseys, consistently made more noise than the American crowd. Their team gave them plenty to cheer for, outhustling an American squad with high-profile NHL players.
St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk scored Team USA's goal on a power play. The Americans stayed close thanks to another stellar performance by goaltender Robert Esche, who finished with 42 saves.
Esche, who stopped 30 shots against Canada, held off the speedy Russians for most of the game. Russia outshot the Americans 45-21.
Dallas Stars forward Mike Modano played for Team USA despite a lower-body injury. He assisted on Tkachuk's goal with a pretty pass, but the U.S. team seemed flat offensively.
After a sluggish first period in which they were outshot 16-4, the Americans came out aggressively in the second, getting six shots in the first five minutes.
But Russia tightened up defensively and played a physical style.
Kovalev's winner, at 5:05 of the third period, was a thing of beauty.
He slipped the puck through a defender's legs, charged to the left, waited for Esche to go down and launched the puck into the right corner.
Kozlov sealed it with 1:58 remaining when he wristed the puck from the high slot between two defenders and between Esche's pads.
In the second period, Zubrus got help from American captain Chris Chelios on his team's first goal.
With a defender on his back, Zubrus skated around the back of the goal and fired a shot that hit off Chelios' skate and into the net to put Russia up 1-0.
But the Americans answered 1:24 later when Modano sent a perfect pass from the blue line to a cutting Tkachuk, who slid the puck under Bryzgalov's pads with 6:16 to play in the second period.
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