Saturday, September 01, 2007

Siberian Sweep

Game four provided a forum for the Russian squad to showcase some of the skill and intensity that many had hoped to see from them in this Super Series. Despite falling behind three to nothing heading into the third period of play, the Russians had what was most likely their best game of the series so far on Saturday. With many opportunities to regain some of the momentum in this eight game series.

It was the goal tending of Steve Mason that early on in game frustrated the Russian attack, denying them rewards for the many chances that they had in the first period of play.

Canada chipped away at that attack and took advantage of opportunities to build a 3-0 lead, but a dedicated Russian team bounced back with two quick goals in the early moments of period number three to pull within one goal of the Canadians. In the early stages of the third period, it seemed that the Russians were prepared to give the hometown crowd of Omsk something to celebrate. The energy in the building quickly picked up as the Russians swarmed the Canadian end, their two goals sparking the crowd back to life after having been silenced in frustration for two periods.

With the Russians applying some extra pressure in the third, Canada answered back quickly picking up a goal minutes after the two Russian markers, doubling the score at 4-2 by the four minute mark of the third, a score that would hold until the end of the game. That insurance marker seemed to settle the Canadians down and allowed them to regain some of the flow of a game that for the most part they had controlled.

The hectic pace continued in the first half of the third period, with the teams racing from end to end, the Russians to try and close the gap, the Canadians to attempt to put the game away.

As the tempo picked up, so did the physical play as bodies went flying and crashing in every direction. Canada managed to turn back the Russian resurrection, denying them the opportunity to pull even or to go ahead. By the mid point of the third period the game had returned to a more familiar pattern for Canada of puck control and the ability to force the turnovers in the Russian end that slowed down their attack.

With the final minutes ticking down on the clock, Canada once again called on Mason to make one or two key saves to shut the door on the Russian’s comeback bid.

The game was by far the best effort of the series so far for the Russians, who showed that despite falling behind on both the scoreboard in game four and four games to none in the series so far, that there is still a bit of life left for them. For Canadian head coach Brent Sutter, his team showed more glimpses of character in an ability to regroup and turn back the Russians as they increased the pressure.
Canadian goal scorers in the game were Brad Marchand with two including the all important fourth goal of the game, while Sam Gagner and John Tavares picked up markers in the first two periods of play.
At the midway point of the tournament, Canada has been full value for their four games to none lead, having outscored their Russian hosts 17-6 and controlling much of the play of the 240 minutes of hockey played so far.
The two teams now make the long journey from Siberia to Moscow and then on to Winnipeg for game five on Tuesday night. Canada already having traveled half the way around the world, now finds themselves half the way to their goal of dominating the series.

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