Russia 1 - Canada 4
THREE THIRD PERIOD GOALS LEAD CANADA TO GAME 6 VICTORY
It wasn’t as convincing as the previous five wins, but Canada is six-for-six in the Canada/Russia Super Series.
Facing a tie game headed to the third period for the first time in the series, Canada got goals from Dana Tyrell (Airdrie, AB/ Prince George, WHL), Brandon Sutter (Red Deer, AB/ Red Deer, WHL) and Zac Boychuk (Airdrie, AB/ Lethbridge, WHL) in the final 20 minutes to pull out a 4-1 win on Wednesday night at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, SK.
Sam Gagner (Oakville, ON/ London, OHL) also scored for the Canadians, who have are just two wins away from an eight-game sweep that was unthinkable just two weeks ago.
Coming off a convincing 8-1 victory one night earlier in Winnipeg that clinched the series, Canada jumped all over the Russians early in Game 6, holding a 7-1 advantage in shots through the first nine minutes.
But the game remained scoreless, thanks in large part to the play of Russian goaltender Semen Varlamov, who stood tall early.
Varlamov was expected to be the Russian starter for the series, but entered Game 6 with a lowly .741 save percentage, and lasted just 20 minutes in his previous appearance – allowing three goals on four shots in the opening period of Game 3 last Friday.
But the first round pick of the Washington Capitals (23rd overall, 2006) finally played like a first-rounder on Wednesday, turning aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the opening period, when Canada held a sizable 13-2 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians finally broke through against Varlamov with just 37 seconds to go in the period, as a point shot from Drew Doughty (London, ON/ Guelph, OHL) snuck through the pads of the Russian goaltender and sat in the crease for Gagner, who poked it home for his series-leading fifth goal and 12th point.
The Russians, who entered the game just 2-for-48 on the powerplay in the series, pulled even early in the second period with the man advantage, as a blast from the point by Ivan Vishnevsky found its way through the legs of Canadian netminder Leland Irving (Swan Hills, AB/ Everett, WHL).
Any momentum was quickly quashed though, as the Russians paraded to the penalty box, giving Canada an extended 5-on-3 for more than three minutes.
But the Canadians could not capitalize, and the game entered the third period even at 1-1.
“They (the Russians) were still playing hard, they had lots of pride,” said Canadian defenseman Luke Schenn, a Saskatoon native playing in front of family and friends. “We knew they weren’t going to roll over.”
The Russian penalty trouble continued early in the final frame, as Canada had yet another 5-on-3, this one lasting 51 seconds, but still could not beat Varlamov for the go-ahead goal.
Hard work by the Canadian fourth-liners finally gave the hosts the lead, as Zach Hamill (Port Coquitlam, BC/ Everett, WHL) intercepted a Russian clearing attempt and fed Tyrell, who outwaited Varlamov and slid the puck home for his first goal of the series.
The Canadian pressure picked up after the Tyrell goal, and the lead became two six minutes later with the Russians on the powerplay, as Irving turned aside a scoring chance and Karl Alzner (Burnaby, BC/ Calgary, WHL) fired the puck ahead to Sutter – Canada’s Player of the Game – who cut in front and snapped a shot through the legs of Varlamov for the shorthanded marker.
Boychuk put the final nail in the Russian coffin with less than two minutes to go and the Canadians on the powerplay, gathering in a rebound off an Alzner point shot and backhanding the puck into the open Russian goal to provide the final margin of victory.
The Canadians held a big advantage in the final shots on goal, and only the standout play of Varlamov prevented the game from becoming another blowout.
The series now shifts to Red Deer, AB for Game 7 on Friday night (10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT), before wrapping up on Sunday night in Vancouver, BC with Game 8 (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT).