Canada roared to a stunning come-from-behind victory to overthrow Russia and advance to the World Championship Gold Medal Game, winning 4-2 on a third period flurry to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The game was a tight-checking affair in the opening salvo, as expected, with Calvin Pickard and Andrei Vasilevski both sharp, and each team sussing out the other’s weak spots. Russia was the first to crack said weak spot midway through the second, after successfully killing off a pair of penalties, when flashy forward Artemi Panarin drew in the Canadian defence, tossing the puck to a wide open Yevgeni Kuznetsov, parked beside Pickard, to tap in the easy 1-0 goal. The Russians finally solved Canada’s penalty kill on their third attempt, doubling up the score on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play, with Nikita Gusev punching in the 2-0 goal leading into second intermission.
Mark Scheifele managed to halve the deficit early in the third, redirecting a Travis Konecny feed on the power play over Vasilevski from the top of the slot just 17 seconds into the third. But after failing to capitalize on three straight Russian penalties, it seemed as if Canada’s tournament dominance was nearly over. But in a span of just 1:51 late in the third, Canada suddenly had a stunned pro-Russian crowd in Cologne silenced, as the Russian dream of vying for Gold was thwarted once again in the Semifinal round.
At 15:07 of the period, it was leading sniper Nathan MacKinnon, fighting for the puck through Russian traffic, recovering from a fanned shot attempt, sliding the puck in past Vasilevski to even the score at 2-2. And before the PA announcer could even announce the goal in both English and German, it was Ryan O’Reilly, Canada’s most dependable scorer of the tournament, taking a nifty feed from the boards by Michael Matheson, recovering from a miffed attempt blocked by Ivan Provorov, and banging home his own rebound past Vasilevski, putting Canada suddenly ahead 3-2 with just 3:02 left in regulation. Russia, stifled to just five shots in the period, was unable to put together any sort of comeback, and Sean Couturier buried an empty netter to seal the 4-2 victory and punch Canada’s ticket to the final.
With the victory, Canada retains their 64th International Hockey Lineal Championship, which they won from Finland to close out the Group Round in Paris, retaining in the Quarterfinals against Germany. The win marks Canada’s fourth straight against Russia over the IHLC, but they still trail in the all-time series 52-25-13 dating back to their first meeting in 1954; the matchup was their first since the World Cup Semifinals in September, where Canada advanced with a 5-3 win in Toronto. Canada now awaits the winner of Sweden-Finland to determine who they will face to not only end the 2016-17 season with the IHLC, but to stand in their way of a third consecutive World Championship Gold Medal.
14:54 – PEN – Scheifele, interference
21:21 – PEN – Konecny, interference
24:13 – PEN – team, too many players
28:36 – PEN – Belov, checking to the head + 10 min. misconduct
28:38 – PEN – Kiselevich, roughing
28:38 – PEN – Scheifele, embellishment
32:16 – GOAL – Kuznetsov (Panarin, Kucherov)
33:47 – PEN – Simmonds, slashing
34:50 – PP GOAL – Gusev (Shipachyov, Panarin)
38:30 – PEN – Zub, slashing
40:17 – PP GOAL – Scheifele (MacKinnon, Parayko)
41:30 – PEN – Belov, cross checking
47:19 – PEN – Zub, tripping
50:13 – PEN – Kuznetsov, interference
55:07 – GOAL – MacKinnon (Konecny)
56:58 – GOAL – O’Reilly (Matheson)
58:53 – EN GOAL – Couturier (O’Reilly, Parayko)
W: Pickard (26-28)
L: Vasilevski (34-37)
SHOTS ON GOAL
7+12+19 = 38
11+12+5 = 28
Goaltenders: Chad Johnson, Calvin Pickard. Defence: Calvin de Haan, Jason Demers, Chris Lee, Michael Matheson, Josh Morrissey, Colton Parayko, Marc-Édouard Vlasic. Forwards: Sean Couturier, Matt Duchene (A), Claude Giroux (C), Alex Killorn, Travis Konecny, Ryan O’Reilly (A), Nathan MacKinnon, Mitchell Marner, Brayden Point, Mark Scheifele, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jeff Skinner.
Goaltenders: Ilya Sorokin, Andrei Vasilevski. Defence: Viktor Antipin, Anton Belov (C), Vladislav Gavrikov, Bogdan Kiselevich, Dmitri Orlov, Ivan Provorov, Artyom Zub. Forwards: Sergei Andronov (A), Alexander Barabanov, Yevgeni Dadonov, Nikita Gusev, Nikita Kucherov, Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Valeri Nichushkin, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Plotnikov, Vadim Shipachyov (A), Ivan Telegin, Vladimir Tkachyov.