2016 World Cup of Hockey: Marchand scores twice, Canada beats Russia 5-3, advance to World Cup final

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Canadian captain Sidney Crosby (87) shoots a backhand past Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period of their semi-final match-up on Sept. 24, 2016. Canada would win 5-3. (NHL Twitter account)

By Hunter Crowther (@HunterCrowther)

TORONTO — There was a moment, ever so brief, of fear near the end of the 2nd period in the Air Canada Centre.

Forward Evgeny Kuznestov had given the highly-skilled Russian squad a 2-1 lead with 3:36 to go in the period. Canada was losing for the first time in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and, for a minute, the “Let’s Go Canada” chants from the crowd sounded like someone compensating for something that broke routine. “This is fine.”

For a minute, it exhibited the power of Hockey Canada aura: they could make you scared, if they wanted to. Even if only for a minute.

Because a minute later, the seemingly unstoppable Patrice Bergeron-Sidney Crosby-Brad Marchand unit produced a shift that resulted in Marchand burying a goal assisted by his two linemates to tie it at two.

Then a minute into the next frame, the same thing happened, Marchand scoring with Bergeron and Crosby getting the helpers.

The fear was gone. The top line saved the day, keeping order in store. Canada would score two more times and go on to win 5-3 in front of a sold out Toronto, Ont crowd Saturday night.

Apart from Marchand’s two goals, Crosby finished with a goal and two assists, while Bergeron came away with two apples. When you combine their totals through the first four games of the tournament (Crosby: 3-4-7, Marchand: 3-2-5, Bergeron 2-2-4), the three have produced eight goals and 16 points.

Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the 1st period against Team Russia at the Air Canada Centre on Sept. 24, 2016. Canada went on to win 5-3. (NHL Twitter account)

Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the 1st period against Team Russia at the Air Canada Centre on Sept. 24, 2016. Canada went on to win 5-3. (NHL Twitter account)

“I think all three of us work hard to gain possession and create turnovers. (Marchand) does that really well,” said Crosby in his post-game press conference, sitting alongside Marchand. “The way he competes every shift, you know he’ll generate a lot, sometimes from nothing.”

“We were controlling the play, doing the right things and we were down 2-1. To get (the second goal) quickly and be tied going into the third, especially the way we were playing, we believed we were gonna score. But anything can happen.” said Crosby.

“When you’re able to lead a group of leaders at this level, it shows how special of a player he is,” Marchand said in reference to Crosby.

“Everyone in the room has been through situations like this before,” he continued. “They’re comfortable, whether it’s saying something or not saying something.

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything, and guys will react.”

The Canadian captain, who leads the tournament in points, opened the scoring at the 7:40 mark with an incredible individual effort. Russian defenseman Dmitry Kulikov attempts to carry the puck out of the defensive zone, but Crosby strips him before he gets past the face-off dot.

Crosby stick-handles around netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, deking to his right and scoring off his backhand, making it 1-0 for Canada.

“I think (Kulikov) just lost it for a split second…I was able to get my stick on it,” said Crosby. “I had a little bit more time than you usually can get, but was happy to see it go in.”

Crosby has scored the opening goal in three of Canada’s four contests during the World Cup, according to the NHL Public Relations’ Twitter account..

The Canadians continued to apply pressure in the offensive zone, putting the Russians on their heels and suffocating any opportunity they hoped to generate. Midway through the second period, the shot attempts were 43-20 in Canada’s favour.

Team Russia forward Nikita Kucherov celebrates after tying the game at one against Team Canada on Sept. 24, 2016. (NHL Twitter account)

Team Russia forward Nikita Kucherov celebrates after tying the game at one against Team Canada on Sept. 24, 2016. Canada would win 5-3. (NHL Twitter account)

It had taken 8:47 before the Russian squad could muster their first shot on goal in the 2nd period, and what a shot it was. Forward Nikita Kucherov wristed a laser past Canadian netminder Carey Price to tie the game at one.

Then with under four minutes to go in the second frame, forwards Ivan Telegin and Evgeny Dadonov show off a terrific display of cycling in the offensive zone before Dadonov sets up Telegin for a deflected one-timer that was eventually buried by Kuznetsov.

But Canada’s top line made short work of their comeback, with Marchand’s two goals making it 3-2 with 18:44 remaining in the 3rd period.

That’s when the host nation shifted into fifth gear, and the very-temporarily broken routine was repaired by the many tools men wearing red and white.

Forward Corey Perry, who scored his first of the tournament last week vs the United States, buried a rebound after setting up his shot by stickhandling it through his legs, from a deflected Logan Couture tip via Marc-Edouard Vlasic point shot, making it 4-2 Canada.

Forward John Tavares made it 5-2 with his first goal of the tournament at the 9:22 mark with a toe-drag wrister through traffic.

Artemi Panarin scored with nine seconds left and the Russian goalie pulled. The puck dropped at centre ice, and the clock struck zero.

Team Canada finished with 54.7 per cent even strength possession, compared to Team Russia with 45.3 per cent. (Graph via HockeyStats.ca)

Team Canada finished with 54.7 per cent even strength possession, compared to Team Russia with 45.3 per cent. (Graph via HockeyStats.ca)

Price looked like his elite self, stopping 31 of 34 shots and stifling all 19 in the 3rd period when the Russians attempted to come back.  Price has allowed only five goals on 92 shots in the three games he’s started in this tournament. As Frank Seravalli mentioned after the game, Price is now 14-0-0 in Olympic, World Cup and World Championship play.

Crosby was asked if the rivalry between Canada and Russia had deteriorated through the years, and said he still gets excited when the two nations meet, whether it’s World Juniors or if he’s apart of it.

Russian forward Alex Ovechin, who had one shot and a 32 per cent even strength corsi in 20:29 of ice time, stressed the answer being in the details on going up against Canada in best-on-best competition.

“Don’t be afraid to play against them. We play against those players in the NHL. You can see if you play smart and don’t made mistakes,” said Ovechkin.

“They have skill, talent, confidence and experience.”

Russia was 0-for-3 on the power play and went scoreless on 11 man-advantages through the tournament.

Bobrovsky was Russia’s unsung hero, stopping 42 of 47 shots and keeping the Russians in it when Canada’s depth started to take over in the 3rd. Bobrovsky made a save in the first minute of the final frame off a Marchand tip that kept the game tied at two. Twenty-two seconds later, Marchand made up for it with his second goal of the game.

Kuznetsov led all Russians with 22:52 of ice time, while Kucherov registered eight shots. Defenseman Andrei Markov was -3 with a 29.6 per cent even strength corsi in 15:11 of ice time, 3:25 while on the power play.

Evgeni Malkin had an assist on the Kucherov goal and one shot on Price. He finished the tournament with one goal and two assists in four games.

Canada now moves on to the World Cup of Hockey best-of-three finals, where they’ll face the winner of Sunday afternoon’s Sweden-Team Europe contest (1 p.m. ET).

 

Follow @HunterCrowther on Twitter for updates throughout the tournament. #WCH2016

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