Brad Marchand scores pair as Canada advances to World Cup final

Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby combined to help lead Canada to the victory over Russia and advance to the final of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

TORONTO — Canada exploded for three third-period goals, pushing Russia aside for a spot in the World Cup of Hockey final with a 5-3 victory on Saturday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky held the Canadians in check over the first 40 minutes, but shots by Brad Marchand, Corey Perry and John Tavares eluded his grasp over a 10-minute span in the third.

Marchand also scored the game-tying goal late in the second after Canada fell behind 2-1. Sidney Crosby set up a pair and scored one himself.

“Any time you play in a game of that magnitude and win it’s an incredible feeling,” said Marchand.

Carey Price made 31 saves for Canada, which will face either Europe or Sweden in a best-of-three final that begins Tuesday night.

Dominant in the preliminary round, the Canadians were far and away the better team again on Saturday and remain the tournament’s heavy favourites. They outshot Russia 47-34, sustaining control of the puck for long, heavy stints in the offensive zone. Only Bobrovsky kept it close for the first two periods.

Crosby did it all to open the scoring for Canada less than 10 minutes into the opening frame.

Aggressively attacking Russia’s defence on the forecheck, the Canadian captain stripped Dmitry Kulikov of the puck just feet from the crease. A couple dekes later and Crosby stuffed a backhand past an over-committed Bobrovsky.

“One thing that makes him such a good player is his determination,” Marchand said about his linemate. “He always comes up big in the big games.”

If appearing a touch tight early, Canada mostly controlled a penalty-filled first. The Canadians outshot Russia 17-7, won 18-of-25 draws and completely stifled a Russian power play that failed to score at the World Cup (0 for 11).

Russia managed only one shot on a pair of power plays, with the Canadians actually coming up with the best opportunities shorthanded, including a pair with Brent Burns in the box for tripping.

Jonathan Toews picked Evgeni Malkin and then found a trailing Logan Couture, his shot stopped by Bobrovsky. Later, it was Ryan Getzlaf locating Shea Weber, his blast also turned aside by the 28-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender.

The Canadian power play was held off the board in its first three opportunities, their best chance coming on a Steven Stamkos one-time blast late in the first.

Bobrovsky proved a difference-maker early and often. He stopped 16 of 17 shots in the first frame, continuing his stifling efforts into the second.

Two chances for Perry were turned down as Canada poured on the pressure.

Russia’s first shot of the second period didn’t come until nearly nine minutes had ticked by, but Nikita Kucherov made it count. The Tampa Bay Lightning winger grabbed hold of a clearing attempt by defenceman Nikita Zaitsev and raced in for a two-on-one rush with Vladislav Namestnikov. He fired a shot past Price’s blocker to even the score at 1-1.

Shots at that point were 24-8 in favour of Canada.

Theatrics from the Russian goaltender continued as the home side kept attacking, each scoring attempt snuffed out. Then, with just under four minutes left in the period, Russia went ahead as Evgeny Kuznetsov batted a shot past Price. He flapped his arms in the air to celebrate the Russian lead and a rare Canadian deficit.

Canada faced no real resistance in rolling through the preliminary round. They trailed once in three games for a mere 89 seconds.

The tension was short-lived. Marchand pulled his team back to even just 1:12 after the Kuznetsov marker. Again it was Crosby keying the action. He grabbed a loose a puck in the right face-off circle and slung a pass through skates and sticks to Marchand cross-ice, his shot beating Bobrovsky.

“It was big just because we felt like we were controlling the play and doing a lot of good things and we were down 2-1,” Crosby said about Marchand’s tying goal.

“To be able to get that one back pretty quickly going into the third even, and especially the way we were playing we believed we were going to score. But anything can happen sometimes so it was nice to get that, that’s a huge goal.”

An Air Canada Centre crowd filled primarily by fans in red and white erupted.

Denied on a terrific chance moments earlier, Marchand put Canada back in front 3-2 in the second minute of the third period. Crosby dropped a pass to his fellow Nova Scotia native, with Marchand’s weak shot slipping under the glove of Bobrovsky. Given the difficulty of some of his earlier stops it was a soft goal to give up.

It was the third point and second assist of the night for Crosby, who leads all players in World Cup scoring (seven points). Bergeron added his second helper of the evening on the play.

Perry upped the Canada lead to 4-2 just over four minutes later, depositing a rebound on the doorstep of the Russian crease. Tavares added the fifth marker a few minutes after that, with Artemi Panarin scoring a meaningless marker for Russia in the dying seconds of regulation.

Corey Perry scores against Sergei Bobrovsky of Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 - September 24, 2016 Corey Perry scores against Sergei Bobrovsky of Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 – September 24, 2016

Canada has yet to lose in best-on-best action since the preliminary round of the 2010 Olympics, a stretch of more than six years.

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