CANADA (5) vs. RUSSIA (3)
One and done games can often be the best kind of hockey, when players have no fall back in a series. It's all or nothing for two clubs comprised of the top players of their sport. The winner moves on to the final, the loser goes home until next time.
That was the scenario on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, where Team Canada took on Team Russia in the first game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey Semifinals.
The Canadian super squad got on the board early, setting the tone for the game, when Sidney Crosby scored 7:40 into the match.
The Russians countered in the middle frame, with Nikita Kucherov and Evgeny Kuznetsov putting their club up 2-1 in the most important game of the tournament. Not to be outdone, Canada rallied back to tie it 1:12 later when Brad Marchand converted.
After that, it was pretty much all Canada. The team with the maple leaf crest scored three consecutive times by the 10-minute mark of the final stanza, with Marchand, Corey Perry and John Tavares finding twine.
Artemi Panarin made it 5-3 with nine seconds left in the game, but that was it for Russia at the competition.
Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene finished the win with two shots and a takeaway in 7:51 of ice time. Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov did not play in the loss, instead serving as backup to Sergei Bobrovsky.
Canada plays the winner of Sunday's matchup between Team Sweden and Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey Final, which begins on Tuesday, Sept. 27. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 6 p.m. MT.
EUROPE (3) VS. SWEDEN (2) - OVERTIME
Team Europe will have a chance to play for World Cup glory.
Tomas Tatar scored his second of the contest 3:48 into overtime to give Europe a 3-2 semifinal victory over Team Sweden on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The pan-European squad will now play Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey finals.
Canada and Europe, which is made up of players outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden, will begin the best-of-three series on Tuesday. Games are also scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, if necessary.
After the clubs were tied 1-1 in the second period, Tatar netted his first of the game 12 seconds into the third period. Sweden's Erik Karlsson knotted the game once again with 4:32 left in regulation to force overtime.
Tatar netted the OT winner after the rebound from his own shot caromed off his skate, past Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and slipped just inside the right post. The play was reviewed to see if Tatar distinctly kicked the puck in, but the goal was eventually upheld.
Nicklas Backstrom opened the game's scoring 2:31 into the second period for Sweden, but Europe's Marian Gaborik tallied at 16:21 to tie the contest going into the final stanza.
With Sweden's loss, Avalanche forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Carl Soderberg will now head to Denver for Colorado's training camp. They're expected to be back mid-week.
Landeskog had a shot on goal and finished with a minus-1 rating in 16:34 of ice time. Soderberg played 8:59 and had one shot and won 50 percent of his faceoffs (3-for-6).
Matt Duchene of Canada is the lone Avs representative that will play in the World Cup finals, but the organization will have one other individual behind the scenes. Colorado head athletic trainer Matt Sokolowski is helping out with Team Europe during the tournament.