Nesterov, 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.

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.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Seven

Quarterfinals
Finland 8 @ Sloavkia 5
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM

Wild first rounder Mikael Granlund had 1 goal and 4 points to help lead Finland to an 8-5 win over Slovakia. His brother Markus, a Flames second rounder, chipped in 2 goals and 3 points, as well. Lightning prospect Adam Janosik was an admirable +2 despite his team giving up a snowman in the contest. He also had a secondary assist on a power play goal by Red Wings fourth rounder Marek Tvrdon with 30 seconds left in the first period. Slovakia will finish their tournament in the 5th/6th Place Game on Wednesday against (spoiler alert) Czech Republic.

Russia 2 @ Czech Republic 1 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-5-6, +7, 2 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-3-4, +8, 4 PIM

Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov assisted on defenseman Grigori Zheldakov's overtime goal to lift Russia to a 2-1 Quarterfinals victory over Czech Republic. Kucherov was on the ice after leaving the box following Russia's kill of a high sticking minor. The game featured an epic goaltending battle between Wings fifth rounder Petr Mrazek, who stopped 43 of 45 in defeat, and draft eligible 17 year old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, who stopped 38 of 39 he faced. Russia moves on to the Semifinals to face Canada in what should be an epic battle between two of the world's great hockey powers on Tuesday.

Sweden will face Finland in a battle of Scandinavian rivals to determine which of the two will move on to the Finals to face the winner of Canada vs. Russia.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Six

Preliminary Round
Slovakia 6 @ Switzerland 4
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM

Thanks in part to 4 assists by Red Wings draft pick Tomas Jurco, the Slovakians overcame a pair of 2 goal deficits to beat Switzerland 6-4 and punch their ticket to the medal round. Lightning prospect Adam Janosik was +2 in the match. Slovakia moves on to face Finland in the Quarterfinals on Monday. Switzerland falls into the Relegation bracket against Denmark, also on Monday.

Canada 3 @ USA 2
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 4-1-5, +5, 4 PIM

Canada held off a furious US comeback to scrape by the Americans 3-2. Brett Connolly's first period goal ended up being the game winner. Credit to the already Relegation Round saddled US side for not caving after falling down 3-0 in the first and giving Canada all they could handle. Canada earns a bye to the Semifinals on Tuesday. The US draws Latvia on Tuesday, and I suspect will cut a wide swath of destruction through the loser's bracket.

Russia 3 @ Sweden 4 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-4-5, +6, 0 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-3-4, +7, 4 PIM

Whereas a 3 goal third period lead is a death sentence in pro hockey, it's not quite so in junior hockey. Ducks draft pick Max Friberg scored an extra attacker goal to cap a 3 goal third period comeback for the Swedes and Blackhawks draft pick Joakim Nordstrom scored the overtime winner in their thrilling 4-3 win over Russia. Sweden clinches a bye to the Semis with the win. Russia now faces a Quarterfinal match with the Czech Republic on Monday. Lightning prospects Nikita Nesterov and Nikita Kucherov, who were on the ice for Friberg's goal, took their first minuses of the tournament. Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg perhaps deserves considerable credit for a Steve Ludzik-like goalie switch just before the goal to get a cheap timeout after burning his official timeout earlier in the game. It was a blast from the past for older Lightning fans.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Four

Preliminary Round
Denmark 2 @ Canada 10
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-1-2, +3, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 3-1-4, +4, 4 PIM

Brett Connolly had a shorthanded goal and an even strength assist as the Canadians punished Denmark for showing up to the building 10-2. Connolly also took an undisciplined third period penalty for cross checking. Canada wraps up their Preliminary Round on Saturday against Team USA.

Latvia 0 @ Russia 14
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-3-3, +5, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 0 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 1-2-3, +5, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-3-4, +8, 2 PIM

If the Canadians set the standard Thursday night for unrelenting butt whippings, the Russians quickly rewrote it in breaking former breakaway republic Latvia 14-0. Nikita Gusev, the longtime line mate of Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, had 2 goals and 7 points in the match and still wasn't the team's leading scorer. That distinction went to captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov's "Kuznetztrick" stat line of 3-6-9. For their parts, Lightning representatives Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov contributed a combined 1 goal and 6 points to the rout. Russia finishes their last prelim on Saturday versus Sweden.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day Three

Preliminary Round
Canada 5 @ Czech Republic 0
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-2, +1, 2 PIM

Brett Connolly scored the nail-in-coffin third goal for Canada late in the second period in their 5-0 win over Czech Republic. The goal showed some absolutely lethal stickhandling moves by Connolly, beating multiple defenders and the netminder on a joy ride through a crowded slot area. It was a man against boys moment. The forward also took a minor for interference in the match. Jets first rounder Mark Scheifele had a pair of goals in the win for the Canadians. Canada draws Denmark on Thursday. Lord have mercy on the Danes souls, because the Czechs made the Canadians work for it today, and they're bound to be grumpy.

Russia 3 @ Slovakia 1
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM

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

Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

It took a Nikita Kucherov insurance marker late in the third period for the Russians to finally put away a spunky Slovakian squad 3-1. Fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov had a secondary assist on the goal. Kucherov was second on Team Russia with 5 shots behind Yevgeni Kuznetsov's impressive 9 bids on net. Russia draws Latvia on Thursday. The same grumpiness likely will apply to Team Russia. Slovakia gets Sweden on Friday.

U20 World Junior Championships: Day One

Preliminary Round
Finland 1 @ Canada 8
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM

Senators prospect Mark Stone had a hat trick and Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau had 1 goal and 5 points in Canada's 8-1 slaughter of Finland. Lightning prospect Brett Connolly also had a goal in the contest, and was named an assistant captain for the Canadians. Canada draws Czech Republic next on Wednesday.

Switzerland 0 @ Russia 3
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, +2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM

Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski weathered 40 shots for the shootout victory in Russia's 3-0 win over Switzerland. Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov assisted on the Russian's final goal, an insurance marker by Mikhail Grigorienko late in the second period. For his part, fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov (pictured) continued the theme of his season going +2. No one collects pluses quite like Nikita Nesterov. He also took a minor for interference early in the third period. Russia faces Slovakia next on Wednesday.

World Juniors Game Night: 12-22-11

Pre-tournament

Canada 7 vs. Switzerland 1

RW Brett Connolly, CAN: 0-0-0, 0 PIM

Canada earned their second pre-tournament win in two games before the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships in Alberta. Connolly did not register a point, but as one of the team’s alternate captains was entrusted with penalty kill duty – a sign of respect from legendary junior coach Don Hay.

Russia 5 vs. Czech Republic 3

RW Nikita Kucherov, RUS: 0-2-2
C Vladislav Namestnikov, RUS: 0-0-0
D Nikita Nesterov, RUS: 0-0-0

These totals are very unofficial as no score was listed on the tournament’s official site and the boxscore was posted on a message board. If it helps, one of the comments from someone at the game said Kucherov looked good. Let’s just assume it’s true. Namestnikov and Nesterov weren’t on the scoresheet, so they could have been scoreless or they may not have played. In fact, respected Russian reporter Dmitry Chesnokov is reporting Namestnikov was cut from the team. Nesterov and Kucherov made the team. (Photo of Kucherov's celebration is from the USA game earlier this week)

Slovakia 0 vs. Finland 3

D Adam Janosik, SVK: 0-0-0, 0 PIM

Finland topped Slovakia in pre-tournament action Wednesday.

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