CANADA WILL PLAY FOR GOLD AT WORLDS

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    Canada scored four times in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and defeat Russia 4-2 to advance to the gold medal game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship. © Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images

     COLOGNE, Germany – Canada’s National Men’s Team scored four unanswered goals in the third period in erasing a two-goal deficit and defeating Russia 4-2 in the semifinals of the 2017 IIHF World Championship.

    Canada advances to the gold medal game for the third straight year, and will aim to make it a three-peat of world championship titles when it faces either Sweden or Finland on Sunday (2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT).

    Mark Scheifele (Kitchener, Ont./Winnipeg, NHL), Nathan MacKinnon (Cole Harbour, N.S./Colorado, NHL), Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) and Sean Couturier (Bathurst, N.B./Philadelphia, NHL) scored in a final frame that the Canadians simply dominated. Canada outshot Russia 19-5 in the third period, and 38-28 overall.

    Only 17 seconds into the third, Scheifele – set up in the slot – redirected a pass from MacKinnon on the power play.

    Canada continued to press but needed until 4:53 remained in regulation to equalize. MacKinnon regained control of a loose puck in the slot and slid the tying goal in short side.

    And 1:51 later, O’Reilly gave Canada its first lead. The puck bounced off two Russian players onto O’Reilly’s stick; the two-time gold medallist scored from the side of the net.

    An insurance goal by Couturier into an empty net gave Canada a two-goal lead with just over a minute to go.

    With the win, Canada now leads the all-time head-to-head matchup 9-8.

    Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg, Man./Colorado, NHL) picked up his fifth victory of the tournament.

    Saturday’s semifinal was the first meeting between the countries since Canada defeated Russia in the 2015 gold medal game.

    An up-tempo opening period brought only one whistle and no goals.

    Canada took two early penalties and was on its heels in the opening minutes of the second period. But the tournament’s second-best penalty kill allowed only a single shot each time to the tournament-best power play.

    Russia finally opened the scoring just past the midway mark of the game, when Yevgeni Kuznetsov was left alone at the side of the net to convert a pass from Artemi Panarin. It marked the first time Canada surrendered the opening goal in a game.

    Canada took another penalty – its fourth of the middle period – minutes later, and this one proved costly. Nikita Gusev finished off a passing play with a one-timer from the low slot to put Russia up 2-0.

    Andrei Vasilevski took the loss in net.  

    Quotes:

     

    “[With] every guy on our team, there’s no panic in our game; we knew we needed to be a lot better. We were confident that even if we didn’t win, we were going to give it a good effort and it’s amazing how things work out.”

    –      O’Reilly on the comeback

     

    “I walked into the room and there was a little tension. Somebody blurted out ‘it’s okay boys we’ve got them right where we want them’ and it calmed the whole group down. We knew we had it in us and we knew we were on our heels a lot because we were killing penalties the whole time. I think the big thing for us, we took a breath in the locker room, went out and scored a powerplay goal, and right then you could see the weight go off our shoulders; after that we played a heck of a third.”

    –      Jon Cooper, Team Canada’s head coach on what was said during the second intermission with his team trailing by two

     

    Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champion. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.

     

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