The Soviet Union did not squander their first Canada Cup final appearance, and their first premier best-on-best matchup since the 1974 Summit Series, crushing Team Canada 8-1 in front of a stunned Montréal Forum, and larger hockey world, to win the 1981 Canada Cup and the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Playing with heavy hearts over the loss of Soviet stalwart Valeri Kharlamov, killed in a car accident in Moscow just prior to the tournament starting, the Soviets started this game on a defensive front, both to calculate their opponents, and avoid a similar collapse to their 7-3 loss in the group round. Canada came out firing on all cylinders in the first, knowing they would need to strike on Vladislav Tretyak aggressively and often in order to gain the early advantage. But despite outshooting the Soviets 12-4 in the first, Tretyak was rock-solid, and the Soviet defence too played their part. As always, the game was quite aggressive, with six penalties in the first twenty minutes alone.
The scoring opened 4:56 into the second, with an Igor Larionov blast past Mike Liut, on a corner pass from Vladimir Krutov, making things 1-0 for the Soviets. Canada would respond just over three minutes later, however, with Clark Gillies receiving a beautiful pass from Mike Bossy while streaking in on Tretyak, ripping a shot past to even things at 1-1. But less than three minutes later, the Soviets struck again, opening the floodgates on what would become the game winner, a Sergei Shepelev goal, knocking in a loose puck past a screened Liut to go up 2-1. Shepelev would add a second power play marked with 3:32 to go in the second, left wide alone in from of the net to rip a Sergei Kapustin one-timer past Liut.
And even though the Soviets were held to only eight shots in the third period, five were converted to goals, as Canada suffered a complete offensive and defensive breakdown, and Liut was left completely on his own, at the mercy of one of the fiercest squads in the world. The USSR struck in all forms: even strength, power play and shorthanded, with Shepelev completing the hat trick on a turnover at 1:39, Krutov scoring shorthanded on a beautiful fake dump-in at 4:08, and then the coup de grâce: three goals in just over three minutes. A Larionov power play breakaway goal, a weak backhander from Vladimir Golikov, and a 2-on-1 goal from Alexander Skvortsov put the final score at 8-1, the most lopsided Canadian defeat in IHLC history, to capture the second Canada Cup title in familiar dominating Soviet fashion.
A diplomatic incident marred the end of the game, when tournament organizer Alan Eagleson refused to let the Soviets leave the Forum with the Canada Cup trophy, claiming it was property of the Canadian government. He even went as far as to order six Montréal police officers to bar the team from leaving Canada with the trophy the following day. But, thanks to an outpouring of support from the Canadian public to show good sportsmanship to the Soviets, a replica trophy was produced and presented to the Soviet Ambassador at a ceremony in Winnipeg the next month.
With the win, the Soviets captured their 21st International Hockey Lineal Championship, and first since the World Championships in April. They defeat Canada, who they last faced in the Canada Cup Preliminary Round, and were soundly defeated 7-3, in a game where Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov rested Tretyak in favour of Vladimir Myshkin. This was the 47th meeting between hockey rivals Canada and the Soviet Union with the IHLC in play, and became the first Canada Cup where the Cup and IHLC were unified – for more, check out the IHLC @ Olympics & Invitationals page.
Canada had entered the tournament with the IHLC, winning it from the Soviets in a pre-Cup exhibition game two days before the Cup began in Edmonton. Canada defeated Finland, the United States, Sweden and the Soviets, as well as tying Czechoslovakia, before defeating the U.S. in the Semifinals to reach the Finals. The win would mark the beginning of the longest and most dominant IHLC reign in history, as the USSR would not lose the IHLC for almost another three years, going undefeated in 71 title games (including two World Championships and an Olympic Games) before finally losing to Czechoslovakia at the 1984 Swedish Cup, 942 days after their Cup victory in Montréal.
04:55 – PEN – Krutov, slashing
04:55 – PEN – Hartsburg, roughing
12:31 – PEN – Krutov, interference
13:40 – PEN – Dionne, holding
15:21 – PEN – Potvin, hooking
17:11 – PEN – Skvortsov, holding
24:56 – GOAL – Larionov (Krutov, Makarov)
28:02 – GOAL – Gillies (Bossy, Trottier)
31:15 – GOAL – Shepelev (Fetisov, Kasatonov)
35:23 – PEN – Hartsburg, holding
36:28 – PP GOAL – Shepelev (Kapustin, Kasatonov)
39:07- PEN – Fetisov, roughing
39:07 – PEN – Gillies, roughing
41:39 – GOAL – Shepelev (Makarov)
43:23 – PEN – Kasatonov, interference
44:08 – SH GOAL – Krutov
50:38 – PEN – Bilyaletdinov, delay of game
54:05 – PEN – Engblom, hooking
56:00 – PP GOAL – Larionov (Kasatonov, Fetisov)
58:39 – GOAL – Golikov (Gimayev, Shalimov)
59:19 – GOAL – Skvortsov (Vasiliev)
W: Tretyak (26-27)
L: Liut (18-26)
SHOTS ON GOAL
4+14+8 = 26
12+11+4 = 27
Goaltenders: Vladimir Myshkin, Vladislav Tretyak. Defence: Sergei Babinov, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Vasili Peruvkhin, Valeri Vasiliev (C), Vladimir Zubkov. Forwards: Nikolai Drozdetski, Irek Gimayev, Vladimir Golikov, Sergei Kapustin, Andrei Khomutov, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Alexander Maltsev, Viktor Shalimov, Sergei Shepelev, Alexander Skvortsov, Viktor Zhluktov.
Goaltenders: Don Edwards, Mike Liut. Defence: Barry Beck, Ray Bourque, Brian Engblom, Craig Hartsburg, Denis Potvin (C), Larry Robinson. Forwards: Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne, Ron Duguay, Clark Gillies, Danny Gare, Bob Gainey, Butch Goring, Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Ken Linseman, Rick Middleton, Bryan Trottier.