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Canada holds off Russia to win gold at WJC

by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets

TORONTO -- In yet another wild and unexpected chapter in a storied rivalry, Russia pulled within one with three unanswered goals in a span of 3:16 in the second period, but Canada would not be denied its first gold medal in six years in a thrilling 5-4 victory at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Canada entered the game having outscored the opposition 34-5 in six straight wins. Russia barely missed equaling that total in the biggest game of the tournament.

Canada got goals by Max Domi (Arizona Coyotes), Anthony Duclair (New York Rangers), Nick Paul (Ottawa Senators), Connor McDavid (2015 draft eligible) and Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres). Russia received goals by Dmitri Yudin (2015 draft eligible), Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues), Sergei Tolchinski (Carolina Hurricanes) and Nikolai Goldobin (San Jose Sharks).

Reinhart's fifth goal of the tournament 12:30 into the second to give Canada a 5-1 lead proved to be the game-winner. Canada goalie Zachary Fucale (Montreal Canadiens) made 26 saves, including all 11 shots he faced in the third.

The game took an eerily familiar page out of the previous two medal round offensive slugfests between these teams. In the 2014 bronze medal game, Russia defeated Canada 6-5. In the semifinal round of the 2012 WJC, Canada rallied from a 6-1 deficit, but ultimately lost 6-5.

As Russia mounted its comeback, there was a sense in the arena, and along press row, that the country was on the verge of topping its incredible comeback in the gold-medal game at the 2011 WJC in in Buffalo. In that game, Russia scored five unanswered goals in the third period in a stunning 5-3 win.

Russia started to rally late in the second when Barbashev scored a power-play goal at 14:21 to help his team pull within 5-2. Tolchinski made it 5-3 when he converted a 2-on-1 at the right post with Nikolai Goldobin 32 seconds later.

The Russians then made it a one-goal deficit at 17:37 when Goldobin connected off a pass from Tolchinski. The fourth Russian goal forced Canada coach Benoit Groulx to call a timeout.

Canada got some breathing room 5:08 into the second when McDavid scored his third goal of the tournament off a breakaway for a 3-1 lead. After getting a great lead pass from defenseman Josh Morrissey at the Russia blue line, McDavid skated uncontested down the middle and sent a shot between the pads of Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders).

Domi then ignited the hometown crowd when he lined a shot from the left circle that beat Sorokin to the far side at 7:22 for a 4-1 lead. Domi, the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs fan favorite Tie Domi, raised his arms in celebration while the fans gave him a rousing ovation. Reinhart, who was splendid throughout the tournament, made it 5-1 when he deftly deflected a shot between the pads of Sorokin at 12:30 off a pass from Domi.

After establishing some composure in its own end after spotting Canada a two-goal lead in the opening 2:32, Russia pulled within 2-1 in the first when Dmitri Yudin (2015 draft eligible) sent a shot from the left circle that hit the far post and went into the net at 9:20.

Fans were barely sitting after giving the announced Canadian starters a standing ovation when Duclair one-timed a shot past Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers) 23 seconds into the game.

Domi made the play happen when he picked up a loose puck and skated behind the Russia net before sending a pass to Duclair low in the left circle. It was 2:09 later when Paul converted a 2-on-1 breakout with Brayden Point, tipping home a lead pass inside the right post.

Russia coach Valeri Bragin didn't waste any time replacing Shesterkin (two goals allowed on three shots) with Sorokin following Paul's goal at 2:32.

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer

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