Canada’s bid for their first gold medal since 2007 ended successfully in Prague, Czech Republic, defeating Russia 6-1 in the final game to grab the top prize.
Game #64. This was it. The top two teams all tournament long battling it out for the gold medal. It was a fitting way to end a spectacular tournament, and right off the bat, the action was tremendous. Sergei Bobrovsky was the busier of the two goaltenders, making nine saves in the first ten minutes of the game. Both he and Mike Smith had to make good stops early, with sharpshooters such as Jason Spezza and Artemi Panarin getting solid chances at their respective ends of the ice.
For Russia, the gold medal objective was huge. After winning the tournament last year, Russia was hoping to take their second consecutive gold before heading back to Russia next year for when they host the tournament. The team brought back 14 players from last year’s roster, and with Alex Ovechkin coming back after getting eliminated in the NHL playoffs, there was a ton of optimism for the men in red, white and blue.
A ton of attention has been on how strong Canada’s defense has been. The Jordan Eberle, Sidney Crosby and Taylor Hall line has easily been one of the best in recent World Championship history, but the best scoring chance of the first came from Canada’s fourth line. After Tyler Toffoli was unable to beat Bobrovsky with six minutes to go, Sean Couturier had two good chances of his own, only to whack the puck off the post on his final attempt.
With under two minutes to go, Canada would strike first. No, it wouldn’t involve the fourth line, but instead Tyler Ennis would spin around by the right faceoff dot before getting it towards the net, with Cody Eakin tipping it in just in front of the crease. The fourth line, featuring four players, has been effective all tournament long, using their speed to opposing defenders with ease.
Canada’s bottom line would strike again in the second. After three minutes of play, Ennis skated into the zone with the puck and wrapped around the net, forcing Bobrovsky to get off balance in the Russian crease. Ennis, the top scorer on the Buffalo Sabres this past season, would then get to the doorstep before tapping it into the back of the net, giving Canada the 2-0 lead with more than half the game still to go.
Canada’s offense would result in a four goal lead before the period was even half over. First, Sidney Crosby did what he does best, scoring in his third straight gold medal game for Canada, picking up a loose puck to the right of Bobrovsky before firing it right over the blocker for the 3-0 lead.
Almost immediately after, the Canadians would take the 4-0 lead. Claude Giroux and Tyler Seguin have looked great for a few games now, and their solid chemistry would result in the fourth goal of the game. With Russia’s defense doing them no favours, Giroux spun around a defender right in front of the net before sending the puck out to Seguin, who scored on an empty cage.
The Russians looked very tired throughout the game, and their terrible second period effort really proved that. The team managed to muster just one shot on net, giving them six after 40 minutes of play. The scoreless second period for Russia meant that Smith would go another period without allowing a goal, grabbing shutouts against Belarus and the Czech Republic in the first two elimination games this week.
With Russia just totally deflated, Canada wasn’t done with their dominance. For their fifth goal, Sidney Crosby sent the puck from the goal line to Claude Giroux in front of the net, firing it over Bobrovsky’s blocker for the 5-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to go. Less than a minute after that, Nathan MacKinnon beat the Russian goaltender with a wrist shot, hitting Bobrovsky’s glove before bouncing into the back of the net.
With eight minutes left, Evgeni Malkin would put an end to Smith’s shutout. With the Russians looking for someway to put something on the board, Sergei Mozyakin put his patented slap shot to good use by taking a wicked blast from the point, only to have Malkin tip it between the legs of Smith and in. The goal was too late, as expected, as Canada would hold on for the 6-1 victory to win the 2015 World Hockey Championships.
With the win, Canada was able to win their 25th World Championship gold medal, the most by any single nation. The Soviets/Russians combined have 27, but by themselves, neither have more than Canada. The medal for the Canadians today also gives them sole possession of first all-time in the history of the World Championships, as their 47 medals gives them one more than the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia, who have 46.
Crosby, who was easily one of the top Canadians all tournament long, would also make some history of his own. With the gold medal, the Pittsburgh Penguins star became the fifth Canadian member of the “Triple Gold Club”, consisting of players that won the gold medal at the World Championships and the Winter Olympics, as well as the Stanley Cup in the NHL. For good measure, Crosby has also won gold at the World Juniors, giving him the top prize at the top four major events for North American hockey.
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