The game had fast become a disappointing blow-out as the Russians racked up a 6-1 lead after two periods, led by Evgeni Kuznetsov with 3 goals and an assist, and Nail Yakupov with four assists. The partisan Canadian crowd at Calgary’s Saddledome sat on their hands, and I suppose most of us conceded the game to Russia by the time the third period came along with the visitors holding a five-goal lead and the Canadians becoming undisciplined and unraveling fast..
But then, Russia’s practically unbeatable goalie, 17 year old Andrei Vasilevski, was beaten, and the game became 6-2. Then it was 6-3, then 6-4, and shockingly, 6-5. The Saddledome was in explosion mode, several millions of us moved to the edge of our seats, and we watched and held our breath as Canada peppered the replacement goaltender Makarov from every angle. They hit the post, they came within inches, and my heart almost blew a valve.
In the end, the Russians held on for a 6-5 win and will meet Sweden for the gold, while Canada toughs it out with Finland for the bronze. But what a game, what a third period, what a finish. Regardless of the outcome, this is what hockey is all about. This is why it’s the world’s most exciting game.
Congratulations to Russia on this night. And to the Canadian boys, you did us proud. You came within a whisker of giving us one of the most memorable nights in hockey history. You never quit and came back and scratched and clawed the way Canadian hockey players do in big games like this. From this Canadian hockey fan, thanks.
Montreal prospect Brendan Gallagher was a major force in the stirring third period, and the Habs have a good one on their hands.
Canada outshot the Russians 56-24. If only they had started their charge sooner than the third.