MOSCOW, December 16 (R-Sport) – Russia stormed to victory in the home leg of the Euro Hockey Tour on Sunday after goals from Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk brought the team a 3-1 victory over Finland.
It was a third win in three games for the star-studded hosts at the Moscow Megasport arena, securing victory at the Channel One Cup, the second stop on the four-stage tour.
Russia leads the overall table with four victories from six games giving the team 13 points.
The Czech Republic is second on nine but can close the gap to a single point by beating Sweden later Sunday.
Finland is third on eight points, with the Swedes last on three.
The Czechs triumphed at the first stage in Finland last month, winning all three matches, while Russia grabbed only one victory without its locked-out NHL stars.
Vadim Shipachev gave Russia the lead in the second period by converting a superb pass by Ilya Kovalchuk. Pittsburgh Penguins center Malkin doubled the hosts’ lead two minutes later.
The off-color Finns hauled themselves back into the reckoning with a goal from CSKA Moscow defenseman Mikko Maenpaa on 35 minutes, but Kovalchuk buried any lingering hopes of a comeback with a goal at the start of the third period.
Russia demolished both of its first two opponents in the Channel One Cup, starting with a 5-1 thrashing of Sweden followed by a 6-0 victory over the Czech Republic that featured a hat-trick from Pavel Datsyuk.
The tour next rolls into Sweden in February, while the Czechs will play host in April.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.