It’s 4-for-4 for Canada at the Canada/Russia Super Series.
After sweeping both games in Ufa earlier this week, Canada put the cap on a perfect Russian leg of the tour on Saturday morning, scoring a 4-2 win to take both games in Omsk as well and give them a commanding 4-0 lead in the series heading back to Canada.
Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, NS/ Val d’Or, QMJHL) – Canada’s Player of the Game – scored a pair of huge goals, and Sam Gagner (Oakville, ON/ London, OHL) and John Tavares (Oakville, ON/ Oshawa, OHL) also found the scoresheet as Canada moved to within one win of clinching the series.
They’ll have their first opportunity to do so on Tuesday night, when the series moves to Canada for Game 5 in Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on TSN).
The Russians came out with their best opening period since Game 1 on Monday, outshooting the Canadians 18-9 in the opening 20 minutes on Saturday, but they were unable to get a puck past Canadian goaltender ass=”HFlinkstyle”>Steve Mason (Oakville, ON/ London, OHL).
Against the flow of play it was Marchand who scored first, taking a pass from defenseman Josh Godfrey (Kingston, ON/ Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) at the side of the net and flipping the puck over an outstretched Sergei Bobrovsky for a 1-0 Canadian lead with just 1:44 remaining in the opening 20 minutes.
The momentum shifted to the Canadians after the Marchand goal, and it took just 1:43 of the second period to double the lead, as Gagner finished off a scramble in front of the Russian goal by sliding the puck past Bobrovsky.
The Edmonton Oilers draft pick (6th overall, 2007) scored his third of the series, while Marchand picked up his second point of the game with the lone assist.
The physical aspect of the series continued in the second period, as first it was Gagner sent head-over-heels by a hip check at the Russian blueline, and then David Perron (Sherbrooke, QC/ Lewiston, QMJHL) was leveled by Vyacheslav Voynov with the puck nowhere near the Canadian forward, leading to a five-minute man advantage for the Canadians.
With time running out in the powerplay, Claude Giroux (Hearst, ON/ Gatineau, QMJHL) fell, but still found a way, from his backside, to pull the puck behind his back to Gagner, who fed Tavares in front for his first goal of the series.
“We went out there for that shift and they (Gagner and Giroux) both said it was coming,” the 16-year-old Tavares said. “I’ve been waiting a while, so it’s pretty good to get that first one. I’m known as a goal scorer, so I should be scoring goals.”
In Game 3 one night earlier, it was the Canadians who came out strong to start the third, scoring twice in the opening six minutes to turn a tight 3-2 game into something a little more comfortable on their way to a 6-2 victory.
On Saturday, it was the Russians who came out with the third period momentum, getting goals from Alexei Grishin and Maxim Chudinov just 26 seconds apart less than three minutes into the final frame, cutting the Canadian lead to one and igniting a pro-Russia crowd in Omsk.
But the celebrations would last just 49 seconds, as Bobrovsky kicked the rebound of a Keaton Ellerby (Calgary, AB/ Kamloops, WHL) point shot right onto the stick of Marchand, who snapped his second goal, and third point, of the game past the Russian goaltender to give the Canadians a little breathing room at 4-2.
The Russians put the pressure on down the stretch, consistently pushing their defensemen into the play to try and create offensive chances, but could not get through the Canadian defense, particularly Mason.
The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect (69th overall, 2006) turned aside 45 of the 47 shots ha faced, the second time in as many starts in the series that he has made at least 40 saves – he stopped 40 of 42 in Monday’s Game 1 victory.
Canada will now pack their bags for the longest leg of their whirlwind trip, going from Omsk to Winnipeg via Moscow, Frankfurt and Toronto ahead of Tuesday night’s Game 4 in front of what should be a raucous red-and-white-clad crowd at the MTS Centre.