Game 6: LTU - ROU / Photo: Sarunas Mazeika
Second successive win for hosts
A depleted Romania proved to be no match for the high-flying Lithuanians who sailed away to a convincing 8-3 win.
Edgar Rybakov scored twice as Lithuania raced clear to a three-goal lead midway through the opening period. All of Lithuania's four lines were on the scoresheet with Arnoldas Bosas also netting a brace for the Baltic hosts.
Darius Kasparaitis scored his first points for Lithuania at World Championship level as he had two helpers when the promotion-chasing hosts cruised to their second straight win. Mantas Armalis recorded 39 saves as Lithuania move to the top of the standings as the only team with six points at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Kaunas.
"I felt a little bit sorry for the Romanians as they only had sixteen skaters. They have a good team, they skate well and from previous matches we know it is not so easy to play against them. We scored some very good goals and with this lead it always kept us going," said Lithuania head coach Bernd Haake.
Gergo Biro scored all of Romania's three goals as Romania won the shots 42-29. Captain Roberto Gliga notched two assists. 23-year-old Zoltan Toke played his first game for Romania at Division 1B level recording 21 saves. Romania had only three full lines suited up for the game which took its toll.
"We lose the first three goals very early and after that we are not able to come back against a team like Lithuania," said Romania's Zsombor Molnar on what became a long evening for his team who fell behind early.
Rybakov broke the deadlock after 2:38 when racing past Romania's Huge Gecse and Alpar Sallo to cooly slot home Lithuania's opener with Kasparaitis notching an assist. 69 seconds later, the majority of the crowd of 5,760 were on their feet again. Tadas Kumeliauskas thundered down to create a two-on-one for Lithuania which Povlias Verenis converted with a one-timer.
Rybakov stretched the hosts lead on a Gintautas pass to score Lithuania's third after 10:55. Gergo Biro replied for Romania thanks to a Gliga feed from behind Armalis' cage before the first frame came to an end.
Lithuania who played their first match at World Championship level against Romania on 11th of February 1938 in Prague. Back then the Baltic nation edged the Romanians 1-0. Romania's most recent win against Lithuania in Division 1B was a 2-1 win in Donetsk in 2013. This gulf between the pair has grown since and as the evening wore on inside Zalgiris Arena, Lithuania continued to find their scoring touch.
Kumeliauskas picked out Daniel Bogdziul for Lithuania's fourth on a power-play at 23:04. Gergo Biro pulled one back for Romania before local boy Mark Kaleinikovas showed great determination as he raced through towards Toke's net to score his first of the tournament and Lithuania's fifth at 34:48.
A Bosas double on each side of the second intermission saw Lithuania's lead sail away to 7-2. Ugnius Cisas added further gloss to the victory for Lithuania's eight, before Romania's Gergo Biro grabbed his and Romania's third with 68 seconds to go to close the scoring.
"We score three goals so we need to take the experience from this game into the next one," said Molnar as the tournament's surprise package Estonia awaits on Wednesday.
Following a day of rest, Lithuania will lock horns with one of their main contenders in their quest for a place in Division 1A next season as undefeated Japan is up next.
"We have to be better if we want to beat Japan. They are a very good team of skaters and they work hard, but we need to make sure to work harder," said Haake.