Nail Yakupov was the focus of most of the attention during the Subway Super Series, but Thursday it was his linemates who had the biggest impact.
Alexander Khokhlachev and Andrei Sigarev each had a goal and an assist as Russia clinched its second Super Series title with a 5-2 defeat of Team WHL.
Leading 4-1 after two periods, Team WHL cut the deficit to 4-2 when Adam Lowry finished a nice passing play with linemates Colin Smith and Ty Rattie early in the third. With Team WHL on a power play, Rattie carried the puck down the middle of the ice and dished to Smith, who went below the goal line and found a trailing Lowry in front for the goal at 3:42.
That was as close as Team WHL would get, however, as goalie Andrey Makarov shut the door. He stopped seven of eight shots in the third, and made 22 saves for the game.
"I feel happy and it was lots of fun," said Makarov, a Buffalo Sabres prospect who plays in the Western Hockey League for the Saskatoon Blades. "I feel amazing, actually, and it was a big step for us each game that we won. The team is feeling great. We will be celebrating a little bit."
Yaroslav Kosov finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:28 left. Defenseman Mikhail Naumenkov had a goal and an assist for Russia.
Khokhlachev, named player of the game for Russia, finished the six-game series with two goals and an assist. He was active all night in the offensive zone, displaying the hands and skill that motivated the Boston Bruins to take him with the 40th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. He had two points and showcased his hand/eye coordination when he tipped a hard shot off the crossbar and post behind goalie Laurent Brossoit late in the second period. Khokhlachev also helped supply a heavy forecheck, which led to a number of scoring chances.
Rattie, named player of the game for Team WHL, had a goal and an assist. Lowry, who was captain for Team WHL, also had a goal.
"Unfortunately they scored a couple of lucky goals early and that deflated us," said Lowry, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick. "Then they scored that quick goal after we scored our first one and after that they were able to limit our chances."
The line of Smith, Rattie and Lowry nearly had another goal with about four minutes left, when Rattie's centering pass bounced off a charging Smith. However, the puck crossed the line after Smith crashed into the goal and knocked it off its mooring.
Eric Comrie, who relieved Brossoit midway through the second period, stopped 17 of 18 shots for Team WHL. His best save came when the top 2013 NHL Draft prospect stopped Kosov on a shorthanded breakaway.
"The kids did their best and we're not blaming anybody," Team WHL coach Don Nachbaur said. "[Wednesday's game, a 1-0 win] went our way and [Thursday] it didn't. We've got to give full credit to the Russian team -- they know how to play. We're a proud team and our kids did our best, but we made way too many mistakes and they capitalized."
Russia won the series with 10 points to the CHL's eight. It's the second time in the 10-year history of the event that the Russians won. In 2010, the Russians swept both games against the WHL to win the series four games to two.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK