Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Brett Connolly and Carter Ashton endured a tough loss on Wednesday in the finale of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, as Team Canada fell 5-3 to Russia in the gold medal game.
Canada took control early on in the contest and seemed as if it would ride its 3-0 third-period lead all the way to end, but the Russians put together a last-ditch effort to stun their opponent in the final 20 minutes to take home gold.
Ryan Ellis spotted Canada a one-goal lead nearly five minutes in after Brayden Schenn made a perfect cross-ice pass to the Canadian captain, who blew a one-timer past goalie Dmitri Shikin from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Ashton, selected by the Lightning in the first round with the 29th overall pick in 2009, extended the lead with a late goal 14 seconds prior to the first horn to make it 2-0 before Schenn notched his tournament-leading eighth goal.
With Canada holding a 3-0 lead with 18 minutes to play, Russia began to mount a comeback when it scored twice in 13 seconds to make it a one-goal game. First, it got on the scoreboard at 2:33 when Artemi Panarin fired a wrist shot over the glove of Canadian goaltender Mark Visentin. Maxim Kitsyn then added another with a shot that dribbled through the net minder’s pads.
The Russians completed the comeback at 7:29 when Vladimir Tarasenko took a nifty pass from Yevgeni Kuznetsov and buried it to tie the score 3-3. Another defensive breakdown at 15:22 gave the Russians the lead and Nikita Dvurechenski beat the overwhelmed Visentin on a partial breakaway with 1:16 remaining in regulation to cap the third period, in which it got five unanswered goals en route to a historic gold medal victory.
Connolly was left off the score sheet, but Ashton also registered two shots and finished with a plus-1 rating.