The 1981 Canada Cup was all about momentum. It was the second edition of the event started five years earlier, and Canada was the prohibitive favourite. There was one significant difference, though. In 1976, the Soviet Union had sent an “experimental” team, not fully knowing the level of competition it would face and worried some of its top players might try to defect. The result was a performance not befitting the country that had claimed World Championship and Olympic gold many times over.
In 1981, it would make no such mistake.
The Soviet lineup included Vladislav Tretyak in goal and a defence featuring Slava Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, and Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. Up front, the Soviets presented Sergei Makarov and Igor Larionov among their many stars. The six teams played a preliminary round robin, and Canada had an undefeated record including a 7-3 thrashing of the Soviets on the last day before the playoffs. In that game, however, Vladimir Myshkin was the goalie, not Tretyak, and many people felt that coach Viktor Tikhonov was luring Canada into a false sense of confidence by having his team not try too hard in this more or less meaningless game. Indeed, the score was 2-2 after two periods, but Canada scored five goals in a row in the third to seal the victory.
In the semi-finals, Canada beat the United States 4-1 and the Soviets rolled over the Czechs by the same score. This set up a one-game showdown for the championship between the two great hockey powers.
The final game was decided largely by the play of one player – the great goalie Tretyak. In the first period, Canada outshot the Soviets 12-4, but the shots didn’t tell the whole story. Much of the period was played in the Soviet end, and Tretyak made one spectacular save after another to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes. Canada’s lineup included eleven future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, notably Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, Bryan Trottier, and Mike Bossy. But none of these stars could beat Tretyak.
In the second period, it was Larionov who broke the ice with a goal at 4:56, but three minutes later the New York Islanders line of Bossy-Trottier-Clark Gilles finally solved Tretyak to tie the game. Sergei Shepelev scored twice before the end of the period, however, to give the Soviets a 3-1 lead after two periods, but Canada was stymied time after time by the great Soviet goalie.
The deciding period was all Soviets. They scored five times on eight shots on Mike Liut who was clearly out of his element on this night at the Forum in Montréal. Five different scorers put the game out of reach, giving Canada an 8-1 humiliation it had never experienced in a championship game at this level. Canada would go on to win the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup events, but on this night, the Soviet Union was at the very height of its powers. This was arguably the best game played by the CCCP-team in the history of Soviet hockey.
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.
|🇷🇺 SOVIET UNION||vs.||CANADA (C) 🇨🇦|
(previous 29 Aug 1981)
(since 29 Aug 1981)
(+ 8 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (URS vs. CAN)
🇷🇺 URS 7-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 07 Mar 1954 – WC – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (URS vs. CAN)
🇨🇦 CAN 7-3 URS 🇷🇺 – 09 Sep 1981 – CC – Montréal 🇨🇦
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 USA 🇺🇸 – 11 Sep 1981 – CC – Montréal 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇷🇺 URS 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 – 16 Dec 1981 – IT – Moscow 🇷🇺