Brad Marchand scored twice off a pair of setup passes from Sidney Crosby as Canada rallied to beat Russia 5-3 to reach the final of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Crosby opened the scoring 7:40 into the first period as he had a goal and
two assists while Marchand finished with two goals for the mighty Canadians who have won all four of their games in the tournament.
The line of Crosby, Marchand and
Patrice Bergeron proved to be unstoppable Saturday as they finished the game with a combined seven points in front of the
pro-Canadian crowd at the Air Canada Centre arena.
“It was a lot of fun playing with Crosby that is for sure,” said Marchand. “He always comes up big in big games. That just shows how special of a player he is.”
Canada advances to the best-of-three final series where they will play the winner of the other semi between Sweden and Team Europe. The championship series kicks off on Tuesday in Toronto.
This was the latest chapter in the dynamic rivalry between the two most successful nations in hockey history which lately has been dominated by the Canucks. Team Canada extended its winning streak in best-on-best events to 14 straight, dating back to a 5-3 loss to USA in the early rounds of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic men’s hockey tournament.
Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant in goal for Russia who led 2-1 at one point late in the second period but couldn’t stop the Canadian juggernaut from battling back with three unanswered goals in the first half of the third to take command.
Corey Perry and John Tavares also scored and goaltender Carey Price made 31 saves for Canada, who won gold in Vancouver and followed it up with another Olympic gold medal four years later in Sochi, Russia.
Marchand broke a 2-2 tie with a goal just 76 seconds into the third period on an assist from Crosby and just 20 seconds after Bobrovsky had robbed him with a glove save. Bobrovsky finished with 42 stops.
Marchand also scored the tieing goal late in second on another assist from Crosby — Canada’s top player and the leading tournament scorer with seven points.
Marchand, who plays for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, had a crack at a hat trick in the final seconds of the game but his shot at an empty net just missed to the left.
Marchand specializes in getting under the skin of his opponents but his skill with the puck is undeniable.
“We all knew he was a good player,” said goalie Price. “There’s a reason he drives so many guys crazy.”
Crosby drew first blood for Canada in the opening period when he stripped defenceman Dmitry Kulikov of the puck at the side of the Russian goal then shimmied his way across the top of the crease before beating Bobrovsky with a backhand.
Nikita Kucherov tied it 1-1 at 8:47 of the second by scoring on Russia’s first shot of the period.
The Russians took their only lead of the game about eight minutes later when Evgeny Kuznetsov batted a puck out of mid-air past Price from in close.
Marchand then scored back-to-back and Perry and Tavares padded Canada’s lead to 5-2. The line of Perry, Jonathan Toews and Logan Couture shut down Russia star Alex Ovechkin, who finished with no points and just one shot on goal.
Team Europe squares off against Sweden in the other semi-final.
Team Canada celebrate their semi-final victory over Team Russia in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.