Back-to-back goals, literally, lead Kazakhstan
by Andrew Podnieks|11 MAY 2024
photo: Matt Zambonin/IIHF
Kazakhstan scored three unconventional goals en route to a huge 3-1 win over France this afternoon in Ostrava. The win gives the Kazakhs three critical points in the standings as they aim to stay in the top pool and, perchance to dream, qualify for the quarter-finals. 

France had won three of four previous meetings between the teams, Kazakhstan’s only win coming back in 2004.

"It's very important to win the first game, but the lighting was kind of difficult to get used to," said winning goalie, Andrey Shutov, who stopped 29 shots for his fourth career WM victory. 

"They scored three goals from behind the net, so we can say luck was on their side, but they created those scoring chances, so it's tough," said French forward Kevin Bozon. "I think we were the better team, but it was a must-win game that is important for relegation, so now we're going to have to surprise a good opponent, especially Poland. We have to do much better than today."

The French couldn’t have asked for a better start, opening the scoring two minutes after the faceoff to start the game. Louis Boudon, playing in his third straight Men’s Worlds, found Enzo Cantagallo in front, and Cantagallo’s shot beat Shutov to the far side.

Kazakhstan tied the score just 66 seconds later off a clever play by captain Roman Starchenko. Cradling the puck behind the net and seeing little else, he came out in front and banked a shot off the side of goalie Sebastian Ylonen.

The Kazakhs took the lead four and a half minutes later on a power play, on an identical play from the other side. This time Maxim Mukhametov deliberately shot the puck off Ylonen’s back and in at 7:30 for a 2-1 Kazakhstan lead.

The Kazakhs played a virtually flawless second period, shutting down the French offense and holding tight to their lead. France had two decent scoring chances, but both were repelled by Shutov—a nice glove grab off a Kevin Bozon shot and then a pad save off Kevin’s brother, Tim.

France had the only power play of the period, and that’s when Kazakhstan extended their lead. Kirill Savitskiy got the puck inside his line and charged up ice, but instead of shooting he outwaited Ylonen, went around the net, and tucked it in the open side at 17:47 for a short-handed beauty.

Although France dominated the third, they couldn't beat Shutov a second time. Kevin Bozon had a great chance from in close but was thwarted, and a late power play and then an empty net for an extra attacker yielded nothing as well. 

Both teams are back in action tomorrow. Kazakhstan plays the early game against Slovakia after which France takes on Latvia.
France vs Kazakhstan - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship