Sean Monahan, Scott Harrington and Dougie Hamilton scored goals in the second period, and the Canadian National Junior Team held on for a 3-2 victory over Team Russia in the opening game of the Canada-Russia Challenge on Thursday at Arena 2000 in Yaroslavl, Russia.
The host country will look to even the scheduled four-game series on Friday at Arena 2000 at 10 a.m. ET, before both teams resume play in Halifax, N.S., on Monday and Tuesday.
Nail Yakupov, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, pulled Russia within 3-2 with his team on a two-man advantage with six minutes remaining in the third period off a feed from Artyom Sergeyev and Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo Sabres).
"Any time you can come into an environment like this and have success you have to be pleased with the effort," Canada coach Steve Spott said. "There are some areas we have to concentrate on. We turned over some pucks and made some soft plays with managing the pucks, so we'll address that with our 5-on-5 game, but the effort was there. We had 22 guys playing hard, so as a coaching staff we're pleased with the effort."
Canadian goalie Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins), who was named Canada's player of the game, came up big down the stretch to pick up the victory. Subban, who made 11 of his 19 saves in the third period, received a special honor after the game. Canada outshot Russia, 28-21.
"We've got a player of the game type of gag where we're giving out a cape in honor of the guys from Canada's 1972 team that we consider heroes of our country," Spott said. "We're calling Subban the hero of the day, and he gets the cape with our logo. He was outstanding, making key saves at key times."
Following a scoreless first period, the teams combined for four goals in the second. Monahan, one of two Canadian players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, gave the visitors a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 4:12 off an assist from Morgan Rielly (Toronto Maple Leafs). The 17-year-old Monahan struck for 33 goals and 78 points in 62 games for the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's last season.
Harrington, a Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, extended the lead to 2-0 when he took a feed from Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) and ripped a shot past Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski at 6:02. Russia made it 2-1 less than two minutes later when Anton Slepyshev connected.
Hamilton, selected by the Boston Bruins with the ninth pick in 2011, gave Canada a 3-1 lead when he connected from the point for another power-play goal at 17:40.
The Canada-Russia Challenge celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, an unforgettable eight-game tournament held in September that year. Canada won the series 4-3 with one tie.
Prior to the puck drop, there was a moment of silence for victims of the Lokomotiv plane tragedy last Sept. 7 in Yaroslavl.
"It was the first big game in this arena for the fans and they were happy to see a Russia-Canada game here," Grigorenko said. "It was amazing to play and the ceremony before the game was emotional. We tried to score that tying goal."
Canadian goalie Lauren Brossoit, defensemen Cody Ceci, Ryan Murphy and Adam Pelech, and forwards Phillip DiGiuseppe and Kevin Roy were listed as healthy scratches for Thursday's game. Spott said all three goalies would receive a start in the opening three games and the fourth starter would be determined on game day.
"I think the guys made it easy for me to get into the flow of the game [Thursday]," Subban said. "I had support and felt comfortable. I'm just trying to give my team a chance to win every night by playing my game. I'm really happy right now but I have to keep it real."
Russian coach Mikhail Yarnakov is expected to have Andrei Makarov of the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades in goal on Friday.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.