Canada 6 - Russia 2
LETHAL POWERPLAY LEADS CANADA TO 6-2 GAME 3 VICTORY
Different city, same result for Canada at the Canada/Russia Super Series.
The scene shifted to Omsk on Friday morning, and although Russia played undoubtedly their best game of the series it was another Canadian victory, this time 6-2, giving Canada a 3-0 lead in the eight-game series.
The Canadians were deadly with the man advantage, converting twice in the first period and twice in the third as the powerplay finished 4-for-9.
Despite being badly outshot – 13-4 in the opening period and 24-10 through two – the Canadians found themselves with the lead on the strength their special teams play.
Sam Gagner was a recipient of good work by David Perron on Canada’s opening goal, a powerplay marker, as Perron carried the puck behind the Russian net and dropped the puck behind his back to Gagner.
Russian goaltender Semen Varlamov followed Perron, giving the Edmonton Oilers draft pick (6th overall, 2007) a wide open net to score his second of the series.
It was 2-0 just 1:53 later, as Canada struck again with the man advantage.
In almost a carbon copy of the first goal, John Tavares carried the puck behind the net before finding Kyle Turris. Varlamov followed the puck this time, but Turris roofed a shot over the Russian’s shoulder for his third goal in as many games, and second on the powerplay.
Russia finally ended their long scoring drought with a shorthanded goal late in the opening period, as Pavel Doronin picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone before beating Canadian goaltender Leland Irving through the legs.
The goal was the first for the Russians since Alexander Ryabev beat Steve Mason at the 9:50 mark of the opening period of Game 1 on Monday, a stretch of 123 minutes and 34 seconds.
But the Russian momentum didn’t last long, as Colton Gillies blocked a shot at the Canadian blueline and raced in alone on Varlamov, fanning on his shot but squeezing it through the legs of the Russian goaltender for a 3-1 lead.
Varlamov allowed three goals on just four shots in the opening 20 minutes, and was replaced by Vadim Zhelobnyuk to begin the second.
The second period might have been the best of the series for the Russians, as they put constant pressure on the Canadians and cut the lead to one at 3-2 when Ryabev’s wrist shot from the right side bounced off the shoulder of Irving and into the Canadian goal.
The Russians pressured the Canadians throughout the period, outshooting them 11-6, but were unable to get the tying goal past Irving.
“We knew this was coming,” Gillies said of the Russian pressure. “The coaches told us this would be their best game, so we just have to keep going and stay strong defensively.”
Canada was forced to kill off two two-man advantages in the opening 40 minutes, and 10 Russian powerplays overall, but held their ground, led by the penalty-killing tandem on Brandon Sutter and Stefan Legein, who have been lights out in the first three games, allowing only one Russian powerplay goal.
Nursing a one-goal lead heading into the final period, Canada got some breathing room 5:28 into the frame on the powerplay, as Gagner fed Claude Giroux in front and Giroux, from his knees, went five-hole on Zhelobnyuk for a 4-2 lead.
The insurance goal came just 46 seconds later, as Legein caught the Russians on a line change, stepped over the blue line and blasted a shot that beat Zhelobnyuk over the glove on the short side, his third goal in as many games.
Zac Boychuk rounded out the scoring on another Canadian powerplay with three minutes to go, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Josh Godfrey and Thomas Hickey by beating the Russian goaltender just under the crossbar.
Irving stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, and was named Canada’s Player of the Game in his first appearance of the series.
The two teams have less than 24 hours to rest before Game 4, set for 6 a.m. ET, 3 a.m. PT on Saturday in Omsk, wrapping up the Russian leg of the series.