Team Canada making it to the World Cup of Hockey finals isn’t surprising given the way they’ve steamrolled the competition so far. But their 5-3 win over Team Russia in the semifinals came with a surprising amount of drama. For two periods, it looked like Sergei Bobrovsky was going to withstand the relentless onslaught and give his team a chance to steal the game.
And then the third period happened.
Brad Marchand scored his second goal of the game a little over a minute into the third. Corey Perry bulled his way to a goal to double Canada’s lead about three minutes later. And when Islanders captain John Tavares out-waited the Russian defense to score Canada’s third goal of the period, it was all over but the handshakes.
On a team that dominated Russia all game long, Tavares in particular played like a man possessed. It was only going to be a matter of time before he scored, and his goal was appropriately a thing of beauty. Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby may have been Canada’s best line, but Tavares, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Getzlaf were like a pack of hungry gators jumping on loose meat every time they were on the ice.
Nikita Kucherov (who’s still not signed by the Lightning, BTW) and Evgeny Kuznetsov briefly gave Russia a 2-1 lead and the glimmer of hope that they could pull off the impossible. Bobrovsky was brilliant, making 42 mostly unbelievable saves. But wave after wave after wave of Canadians kept coming and eventually Russia broke.
With Bobrovsky pulled, Marchand nearly missed a hat trick twice - once with a miss at the empty net from the neutral zone and once on a feed from Bergeron that was blocked. Russia’s Artemi Panarin scored with just a few seconds to go after Nikolay Kulemin hit the post while shooting from the top of the crease. The score makes it seems closer than it really was.
Canada will play - and most likely annihilate - the winner of Sunday’s semifinal between slick Team Sweden and plucky Team Europe. I’m totally in the bag for Jaroslav Halak and Team Europe, but I’m almost afraid to see them get to the final because of what these wild Canadian dogs are gonna do to them.