Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Canada tops Russia to make World Cup of Hockey final

TORONTO — Sidney Crosby was at his best on one of hockey's biggest stages.

Again.

Crosby scored once and assisted on both of Brad Marchand's goals, including the winner early the third period, to help Canada beat Russia 5-3 on Saturday night in the World Cup of Hockey semifinals.

"He always comes up big in the big games," Marchand said.

The Canadians, with the Lightning's Steven Stamkos, face the winner of Sunday's Sweden-Europe game (1 p.m., ESPN) in a best-of-three final.

Crosby opened the scoring 7:40 into the game on a spectacular sequence, showing he has plenty of energy despite having a brief summer between winning the Stanley Cup with the Penguins and competing in the World Cup.

"It was short, but exciting, knowing we were coming here," he said.

The Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky made 16 of his 42 saves in the first period, keeping the Russians in it.

The Lightning's Nikita Kucherov made it 1-all midway through the first, and the Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov put Russia ahead 2-1 with 3:36 left in the second. But 1:12 after that, Crosby made a cross-crease pass to set up the Bruins' Marchand for his tying goal.

With a chance to take a pivotal lead in the third, Crosby chose to give up the puck, not shoot it. He deftly dropped a pass to Marchand atop the left circle to assist on the winning goal 1:16 into the third.

The Ducks' Corey Perry gave Canada a two-goal cushion at 5:48 of the third, and the Islanders' John Tavares made it 4-2 midway through the period.

The Canadiens' Carey Price made 22 saves for Canada.

"Everyone has been through situations like this before," Marchand said. "Everyone's able to focus and control their own game."

Russia was not in a position to come back in a game in which it gave up more than twice as many shots as it put on the net until pulling Bobrovsky late in the game to add an extra skater in a nothing-to-lose attempt to get back in the game.

Russian captain Alex Ovechkin said he believed that if his team had maintained its lead into the third period, the outcome would have been different.

Canadian coach Mike Babcock said he told his team during the second intermission, "There's no way (Russia) can keep up if we keep playing this way."

Ovechkin said the Russian players were on the same page and thought they could beat Canada.

"(Canada has) skill, talent, confidence and experience," Ovechkin said.

Heading back to the Lightning with Kucherov from the Russian team are center Vladislav Namestnikov, defenseman Nikita Nesterov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

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